Tonga police work to solve school fights
Tonga police devise ways to try and end years of clashes between students from rival schools.
Police in Tonga are trying to develop new ways to end the fighting between groups of students from different schools.
After the most recent violence, last weekend, several students were arrested after a police car and a bus were damaged.
The violent incidents have been going on for year, and Don Wiseman spoke with acting superintendent Atunaisa Taumoepeau about the work police are doing to try and stop it.
ATUNAISA TAUMOEPEAU: There are two schools that have been a rivalry for the last 100 years or so in Tonga - it's Tonga College and Tupou College. Nowadays those two schools go hand in hand. They have a very good relationship. In the last 10 years one school, Liahona High School versus Tonga College and police are trying to figure out what are the strategies we are going to oppose that violence here in Tonga. It involves ex-students who have studied at Tonga College and moved to Liahona High School and even students moving from Liahona to Tonga College. It is the things behind that that we are trying to figure out why it is going on.
DON WISEMAN: Now police introduced this Music for Peace which had a little bit of success I understand. Clearly it hasn't solved the problem. So you are looking at other things. What are the other things you are doing?
AT: What we are targeting is the students from Form One, Form Two, Form Three, and that's what we think. It might work in the next five years, six years, because the trouble now is that most of them are ex-students. We are still encouraging police to go to schools, just a conventional pilot, visiting schools every week and [about] what are the things that may affect their studies and even when they want to go to New Zealand or Australia police won't issue them police reports [police clearance] something like that. We have to tell them that. And even a programme with the guardians and the parents and with the teachers as well. Bringing the prefects from Tonga College and Liahona High School at the weekend and they hang around, looking for perpetrators, telling us whether they are students or not. If not we have to just disperse them from everywhere. And police are discussing other things. It has been too long now for us.
DW: What other things do you have in mind?
AT: Well we developed that Music for Peace which will continue this year, but we have another project of going on the weekend, creating other activities rather than being confined to the week days, the school days, we thought of doing something for the community, including those people that we apprehended and go to the actual community and for the parents as well of the people there.
DW: Do you feel to a certain extent it is not up to police, that this is something the community has got to solve?
AT: Well we have a lot of stakeholders [in this] from the church, the government, the school and the parents. Police are like co-ordinators here but you need everybody [involved] that is the only way to solve these things.
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