Fights involving minors outside of school premises are unacceptable and punishable by the Court as a recent verdict by the Court of First Instance highlighted. Three minors were sentenced on March 18, 2021, to community service of 60 to 100 hours for mistreating another minor in a fight outside of their school in January 2021. The sentence is partly conditional and dependent on the minors not becoming involved in any future (school) fights.
The sentence strongly reinforces the stance of OM SXM that violence in and around schools is not acceptable, and will not go unpunished. The basis for these fights are often laid during school hours, escalating to violence at the end of the school day when the minors are just outside of the school ground. Minors are usually still in their school uniforms at the time of such incidents.
The March 18 verdict places all three girls under the supervision of the Court of Guardianship for one year. The Court of Guardianship will monitor the completion of their community service hours with selected projects/organizations as well as their general supervision.
The sentence of community service is often imposed as an alternative to incarceration (prison). This avenue gives minors an opportunity to reflect on their actions while serving their community in a meaningful way. OM SXM hopes that their sentence will aid them in making better decisions in the future.
Violence in and around school is prioritized by the Joint Committee on Youth and Crime JCO. This committee is composed of representatives from OM SXM, the Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM, Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten SJIS, the Court of Guardianship, and the Truancy Office of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. The committee’s goal is to coordinate policies and case strategies in an early phase to prevent crimes committed by the youth.