7 Aug 2013

Tonga anti-violence group says students must lead change

6:36 pm on 7 August 2013

The Coalition Against Violence in Tonga says any effort to reduce violence between schools must be led by the students.

It's been more than two weeks since 147 former and current students from Tupou College were arrested in relation to an attack that left two Tonga College students in hospital.

A member of the coalition, and the director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre, Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, says violence between schools is an escalating issue in Tonga.

But she says the strong message they want to send is that any proposed solution needs to have the students as leading the way.

"So we need to involve them and we need to get the students from the schools to participate in developing the way forward. Otherwise we'll be talking amongst ourselves, as leaders, as key stakeholders, and the students will not take ownership of whatever we decide as an exclusive group. Which is why it is so critical to get them to participate in the entire process."

Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki says previous attempts have failed because students have not taken ownership in creating a safe environment for schools.