Guam's Speaker leads move against school fights
Guam's legislature acts to quell fights in high schools.
The Speaker of the House in Guam is leading a move to clamp down on the growing problem of fights in high schools on the island.
Judith Won Pat is also the chair of the Committee on Education and Public Libraries and Women's Affairs
She told Koro Vaka'uta she called a meeting of leaders and authorities this week after viewing video footage of a brutal fight between a high school boy and a girl.
JUDITH WON PAT: Students have been videotaping these fights and putting them on YouTube. Parents, of course, have been calling and other concerned individuals in the community. So when I saw one in particular that triggered this, when a young boy actually knocked a girl down and grabbed her head and started to slam her head against the concrete floor. Although actions have been taken by the school officials and investigations, the police were called in, the fact remains that a couple of years back there was a fight that did happen in one of our high schools and it ultimately led to the death of a young boy and we don't want to find ourselves down there again. Therefore I want to try to address this problem before it gets any worse.
KORO VAKA'UTA: How regularly has this issue been popping up?
JWP: It started of course when the school year opened. We're also trying to get a handle on as we had just opened a new central high school which was designed to alleviate some of the overcrowding. It meant bringing in individuals who didn't start off maybe with their classmates and their friends.
KV: What are some of the other causes that seem to be related to this?
JWP: I know that one of the things that we have always had, I remember even during my day, is that there were village rivalries. Boys would come from different villages to make up one high school and then they become very territorial about a section of the school. They tend to stay together. Then that changed again from villages to even sometimes ethnic groups and then the other groups are individuals who are either bigger and are getting involved in gangs, wanting to provide some sort of initiation of students in their group.
KV: In terms of those that are injured, what kinds of injuries are we seeing? Very serious, or just superficial?
JWP: For the other ones that we saw they're simple punching, kicking, pulling hair but this most recent one was the worst we saw and that was the last straw. We surely don't want it to get any worse. We want to catch it before anything of course fatally happens to any of our students.
KV: What are some of the proposals that you think could change the situation?
JWP: The one of course that really quickly we are hoping for is the placement of security cameras in the schools. The court system of course, we're hoping that they would beef up as well and come in. They started a programme about 'play by the rules' that basically breaks down our penal code, broke it down to the level for school children to comprehend and understand and start to play by the rules, otherwise there will be very serious consequences after that.
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