Above: Attendees at the Core Foundation’s Safety and Security in Schools Conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Port of Spain. Photo courtesy TSTT.
Increased incidents of bullying, violence and crime in schools and proposed solutions to address them were the focus of the 2016 Safety and Security In Schools Conference at the Hyatt Regency on March 22nd. The conference was hosted by the Core Foundation, a not-for-profit organization established to improve, inspire and empower people to live a better quality of life, and sponsored by BLINK Vigilance.
Core Foundation President, Angelo Scope, explained, “Today, school violence ranges from well-planned gang activity to bullying and intimidation to theft and verbal abuse. It incorporates the fights, language unbecoming of our young people and the use of dangerous weapons. It is perpetrated against teachers, students, administrators, and even security personnel.” The Core Foundation felt it was its social responsibility to aid in the national discussion on Safety and Security in Schools.
Referring to BLINK Vigilance’s participation in the conference, Francola John, a Core Foundation Director thanked BLINK Vigilance for coming on board and supporting them from early in their preparations, thus ensuring that the event was a success. She said, “We recognized that technology plays an important role in addressing the solutions for the safety and security of schools. As the leading telecommunications provider that is the only national provider, we felt that they were the only telecomms organization we wanted to partner with since this was a national issue.”
Darryl Duke, TSTT’s Senior Manager for Government, Security and Directory Business reminded the audience that TSTT, as the national leader in CCTV deployments, is adequately poised to support the Ministries of Education and National Security in their efforts to reduce school violence. He said, “TSTT has over 80 percent of all primary and secondary schools connected with broadband solutions and 1,600 pervasive CCTV Cameras utilized by the National Security Network across Trinidad and Tobago.”
“It is an international fact that CCTV in schools reduces school violence by at least 25 percent.” Duke said that TSTT has BLINK Vigilance security solutions of alarm monitoring and/or CCTV in ten schools, including four high risk schools identified by the Ministry of Education. The objective is to reduce the theft and damage of property at these ten schools. Duke added, “The BLINK Vigilance deployments work because we have not been getting reports of continued theft or vandalism of these schools.”
In wrapping up his presentation, Duke reminded the conference attendees that safety and security solutions should not make schools resemble a prison with barbed wire, big security gates and armed guards. He said, “The electronic security solutions we provide, of CCTV cameras supported by alarm monitoring, access control equipment, storage and video analytics, 24/7 state-of-the-art alarm monitoring room and rapid response personnel, are less intrusive and intimidating methods that provide effective protection and response solutions in schools.”
Other Speakers at the conference included international feature speaker, Michael Dorn, a FBI National Academy graduate and antiterrorism expert; Harrilal Seecharan, Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education; Criminologist, Renee Cummings; Anthony Watkins, Principal Consultant, Odyssey Consult Inc; Perthrina Pegus, Program Manager/Social Service Supervisor, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn; and Gerard Best, Global Communications and Technology Director of Congress WBN.
The whole day conference was well attended and included representation from the five critical Ministries involved – Education, National Security, Health, Community Development, Culture and Arts and Social Development and Family Services, as well as the Office of the Prime Minister and various national organizations.
These included school principals, teachers, parents, school guidance counselors, school safety officers, school principals’ associations, the National Parent Teacher Association of Trinidad and Tobago, The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association and the Police Service’s Child Protective Unit.