Support offered to school

| 29/10/2014

(CNS): Following the murder of a 6-year-old child who was a pupil at Savannah Primary school, government is taking action to offer support to the children who attend the school along with their families and staff. The child has been identified as Bethany Butler, the daughter of police officer Sgt Lenford Butler and his wife Tamara Butler, who is currently in custody, having been arrested on suspicion of murder. No charges have yet been brought in the case, which police have said is still in the early stages of the investigation. Winston Connolly, who is acting as education minister in the absence of Tara Rivers, said education services was putting together a plan of support for the affected school to deal with the tragedy.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, the acting minister, speaking on behalf of the ministry and department of educatio, offered his condolences to the family of the young child.

“As this incident is currently under police investigation, we are unable to comment further,” he said but explained that critical incident response specialists are now working with the school leadership to assist with developing a plan regarding the school’s response.

“One of the educational psychologists employed by the DES is certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, and has valuable personal experience offering specialised support to medical and police teams who dealt with critical incidents in Florida,” he told the LA on Wednesday morning. “This person is experienced in offering such special support and will be taking the lead on the school support plan, working alongside the lead counsellor to do so.”

He said the education department will also offer walk-in support for teachers, students and families later this week, as well as full support to the school community on Monday when school reconvenes.

“This support will be extended to the school community as long as is necessary,” he added.

Connolly said that a representative from the Health Services Authority had been contacted and informed that the DES would be prepared to help other agencies with their debrief and response activities relating to this incident.

“As schools are currently on mid-term break, we realize that not all teachers and students may be on-island at present. Nevertheless, beginning today, specialists will be at the school to provide counselling services to staff and students who may need it,” he said, adding that the DES will be releasing public announcements on how to access the support.

Bethany’s body was found in a car on a small side road off the Queens Highway in East End in the early hours of Monday morning. A short time later her mother was found further along the shoreline in the area. Police have not yet confirmed the details but it is understood she was attempting to take her own life. Police arrested Tamara Butler on suspicion of murder and she now remains in police custody, though it is understood she may be in hospital.

The death has shocked the community and police are appealing to anyone who may be able to help them piece together what happened to Bethany before her death to contact them on 949 4222, the Major Incident Room on 926 3975 or Crime Stoppers on 949  8477 (TIPS).

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