Responding to consistent reports of poor behaviour by school children in public spaces, a special police patrol is being put in place to monitor the conduct of students, Education Minister Andrew Holness has said.
The Safe Schools Patrol will watch activities of students in their regular hang-outs such as public transportation centres and on public buses.
"We have had preliminary discussions with the constabulary force and it is clear that there now needs to be a special police patrol that will conduct surveillance and other operations in public areas that are used heavily by students", Holness said.
The minister noted that while violent incidents and the discovery of weapons were trending down in the schools themselves, there were increasing reports of fights involving students in public areas. These fights were then taken into the schools, he said.
The Observer has reported extensively on lewd behaviour by some students on public buses, involving the drinking of alcohol and energy drinks, and the holding of parties with explicit dancehall music and sexual activity on buses.
Holness said that his ministry would be partnering with ministries of transportation and national security to establish the partol this year.
He was speaking at the launch of the second phase of the Schools Safety and Security programme at the Institute of Jamaica in downtown Kingston. Under this phase, approximately 250 junior high and all-age schools are being added to the programme which is already in high schools.
The launch ironically took place a day after Nicholas Hamilton, a seven-year-old student of Coke's View Primary in Westmoreland was killed after a goal post on the school's premises which was being lifted by his fellow students fell on him.
The minister instructed the principals to carry out safety audits of their school premises each term. He urged them to treat safety and security as an important management function similar to accounting, curriculum development and lesson planning.
Responding to questions from the audience of mostly principals, Holness said that his ministry was looking into the possibility of placing paid security personnel in all the schools but this had serious implications for the budget. The emphasis of the safety and security programme he said was about "keeping record of actions that could compromise safety and security and reporting them to the authorities so that action can be taken."