20 Sep 2013

Injuries after stones thrown at American Samoa school bus

4:47 pm on 20 September 2013

Three high school students have received hospital treatment in American Samoa after they were attacked on a school bus following an inter-school volleyball game.

A department of education official says the bus was attacked by stone-throwers on 3 separate occasions as it left Fagaitua High School to drop off students from the Tafuna volleyball team.

Don Wiseman asked our correspondent in American Samoa, Monica Miller, if authorities know what led to the violence.

MONICA MILLER: It's really shocked us, the fact that the school bus was stoned. I know they've had incidents like this before, but if you look at the rocks that were used, there was intention to harm, that's very obvious. And if you look at the condition of the school bus, the windshields are smashed. There's several windows that you can see a rock going through the window. And then blood was spilled on the school bus. We have not been able to establish whether there was anything else that went on during the volleyball games that sparked this. Now, we've talk to the Department of Public Safety. A police car had escorted the school bus from the game to a high school.

DON WISEMAN: There obviously was tension beforehand.

MM: See, this is what boggles the mind - the intention to harm. We've had some people tell us it was really the work of young adults who are not school students, and perhaps there's evidence they were graduates of Fagaitua High School who were involved. But this is all hearsay. The police have not been able to do any arrests because they said that one of the problems is that it was too dark when the game ended and there seems to be evidence that people were hiding and quite conscious of the police being there, but that they were just out to hurl the rocks and then make a run. But I don't think the police made the mistake of stopping their car and trying to get out and going to look for any culprits, because the situation, as we see with the condition of the bus, it was quite volatile.

DW: What are education authorities doing now in response?

MM: I think what they're trying to do is involve the Office of Samoan Affairs - this is the agency that deals with the village authorities - and try to see if the villages that feed the kids into the school system at each of these schools that are involved could police and also try to find the culprits and try to mete out some kind of punishment traditionally. At the same time, they're trying to get the police to step up enforcement's, but the Acting Commissioner of Police, he's very adamant. And he's said this in the past. It's best not to have these games too late in the evening, because this is going to happen. It's really hard to control. WHereas if you have the school sports right after school then security is much better.