Officials at the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation have taken a position of zero tolerance on bullying in the nation’s schools.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones gave Barbadians this commitment today while speaking at a ceremony for the presentation of awards to participants in a poster competition which sought to sensitize the youth on bullying in schools.
“Bullying is extremely harmful. I had an occasion to see sometimes the degree of bullying and the harm which comes to children. Those children then withdraw who have had occasion to be bullied. Parents move children from school to school in order to find that oasis for that child to learn.
“Yes, we are made in the image of God and there are some persons who can respond to bullying. But there are so many who recoil, who go into themselves and they suffer.
“In the ‘50s and ‘60s some persons saw what we now call bullying as almost a rite of passage. There are students who went to particular secondary schools where you were placed in a coffin. At The Lodge School every first former had to be initiated into the culture of the school, and part of that culture was being placed in the coffin. We know that we only place dead people in coffins or we should only place dead people there.
“Therefore, in our mind and our culture you will find there is great fear. That rite of passage was to place fear in first formers.
“Senior students did all of that and then the culture was passed down. However, it no longer exists. It is a co-educational school and maybe we should thank the young ladies who ventured into the school.
“That was called bullying. We have seen instances where people have died as a result of the extreme of bullying. We have seen many persons who have committed suicide.
“If you check the news, from time to time in many parts of the world, New York for example, the UK, Canada, horror stories of young people not being able to withstand the degree of bullying that can sometimes be present in their environment and with nowadays our environment being global, you can also be bullied within that global environment.” Jones added.
The Minister of Education went on to say that the Internet and social media could cause some pain and recalled an incident a year ago when two of our schools, two young men of Indian extraction, were sending these messages to each other, and it reached the point where one youngster said he wanted to be one of the bombers who destroyed the World Trade Centre Twin Towers in Manhattan.
Jones recalled that after some investigation staff members recognized that that child was responding to bullying.
“Therefore to protect self. He felt he had to go to the extremes to protect self. Where do these things come from? The verdict is still out. Are children born with defects? Is it a learned behaviour?
“We know that it is part of learned behaviour. Neglect, verbal and physical abuse, severe denial within the domestic environment of the child all come together to create bullies.
“Some of the people take some of these negative values into themselves and then take it out on others. They take it out on the younger child. There is peer bullying as well. You may be 11, 12 or 13 same age cohort, but it is something in you that would cause you to unfair or bully another 13 year old or another 11 year old,” Jones argued. (NC)