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Pranksters and porn quickly end forum for RC schools

An anti-xenophobia discussion conducted by the Living Water Community (LWC) for four RC primary schools was disrupted by persons displaying pornographic material.

The event, hosted under the auspices of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) was attended by pupils of Carapichaima RC, St Rose’s Girls’ RC, Malick Girls’ RC and San Juan Girls’ RC, as well as school officials. There were almost 800 participants.

The Zoom meeting had proceeded as planned after 9 a.m. for an hour without incident. It was when the principal of one of the primary schools was invited to share a song to close proceedings that the interloper’s mischief was sighted. During the song, one of the co-hosts observed a participant playing a video by TT-born rap artiste Niki Minaj and a split screen of a video of a naked woman. The co-host could not remove the errant participant.

Mics were turned on after the song and children were asked to loudly express thanks to their facilitators. Another individual was observed showing a video with women dancing and the meeting was immediately halted. The CEBM promptly made a report to the Information Communication Technology (ICT) department of the Chancery and principals who were present but unaware, were notified of what had happened. The ICT department had to again be contacted after a principal reported the meeting was showing as still in progress. Racial slurs were also posted on the chat.

The interference appears to have been premediated as three persons carried on a conversation on Twitter about getting into the meeting. Some participants who witnessed the images displayed are reported to be upset and the co-host “traumatised”. The CEBM asked principals to extend apologies to their pupils and the principals were informed that its IT department would investigate to determine the source. Anyone who needed assistance was invited to reach out for help. Principals were advised, “We are looking into how this can be delicately addressed to the affected children.”

Reports were made to the TT Police Service Cybercrime Unit, and Child Protection Unit. CEBM Senior Operations Manager Ayanna Nero said another session with LWC is scheduled for four other primary schools today Friday, January 29. As a precaution, a “waiting room” controlled by teachers will be used to screen persons entering and avoid further disruption. “They would know who their students are,” Nero said.

A brief statement from the Chief Executive Officer of the CEBM Sharon Mangroo said: “The CEBM denounces any deliberate attempt to disrupt the education of our students, including online learning activities”. It continued, “Any such attempts will be immediately reported to the authorities and we will actively support actions to apprehend instigators. Meanwhile, additional security processes will be initiated for online meetings”.

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