A call has been issued for Barbados to put policies in place to tackle the growing issue of bullying across the island’s schools.
Felicia Browne, human rights advocate and peace ambassador has issued the plea, saying bullying not only affects children physically but also psychologically.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the recently held Olweus Bullying Prevention programme, a pilot bullying prevention seminar at the Savannah Hotel, Browne said bullying was a threat to learning and the issue needed to be addressed in a unified manner.
“So our policymakers whether it is the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Youth, they have to come together and create a conclusive as well as a holistic environment so that bullying can be prevented, it could be managed and most importantly that it can be eradicated,” said Browne.
Meanwhile, bullying prevention trainer and consultant, Shawn Clarke said when it came to bullying many Barbadians were guilty of “sweeping it under the carpet”.
“The concern is growing daily. We have a lot of bullying happening in our schools. Unfortunately a lot of it is not getting out. There are some schools that still believe it is school business so they sweep it under the carpet for reputation,” said Clarke.
He also called called on all Barbadians to
join in the fight of combating that type of abuse, adding that it was happening at all levels of the school system.
“A lot of bullying is happen at the primary school stage but because we don’t see things like name calling, insulting and isolation or exclusion as bullying then we believe this does not happen. But once we look at bullying in its total form then we realize that we have a lot of bullying happen not only at secondary schools. And we also have a lot of bullying happening at the University of the West Indies as well. So there is bullying across the board,” he explained.
“It is not something that we can continue to sweep under the carpet because we realize our children are hurting from it. A lot of them now have to seek counseling,” said Clarke, adding that he was in the process of collecting data on the kind of abuse.
Clarke, who is also the chief executive officer of Supreme Counseling for Personal Development, said he believed bullying should be given the same level of attention that was being given to other forms of abuse.
The Olweus Bullying Prevention is an internationally recognized programme designed to, among other things, help people to prevent, identify and eliminate all forms of bullying. Clarke said the programme would not only target students, but teachers, parents and non-governmental organizations as well.