It is time for Barbados to introduce legislation to combat the serious problem of bullying on the island, says counsellor Shawn Clarke.
Clarke, CEO of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development and local organiser of the recently-launched Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme was speaking to Barbados TODAY after a Press conference at the Trents, St James headquarters of the Maria Holder Memorial
Trust called to discuss the Trust’s commitment to sponsoring the programme.
“If you look at the United States, for example, almost every state has its own piece of legislation that governs bullying. We need to know what laws are put in place to address bullying at all stages and the legislation needs to be passed on to all the schools so that principals know what to do and that they have a backbone when it comes to addressing bullying in schools,” he said.
According to Clarke, the legislation should include all aspects of bullying and special attention must be paid to the role of parents as it relates to their children’s involvement in bullying.
However, the consultant was of the view that a parent should not be imprisoned for a child’s delinquent behaviour.
“The reality is that you have children sometimes who are angels at home and when the parent is called to the school because there is a report that the child has done something negative, they cannot believe that this is the same child.
“Sometimes it’s a conduct disorder that needs to be dealt with and you cannot imprison a parent of a child who has conduct disorder. You cannot imprison the parent of a child who has ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]. Those children are considered as provocative victims and they are in the whole realm of bullying on a very regular basis,” he explained.
The trained counsellor also noted that education was an important element which should be used in stamping out the bullying plague, which he believes is indirectly associated with the island’s culture.
He explained that many Barbadians were not aware of the definition of bullying, particularly the older generation, some of whom saw nothing wrong with the act.
“How many times you are talking to an old person and they say, ‘oh, I used to get slap over my head and it ain’t kill me. That is how we grow up and it never had a negative effect on me’.”
Clarke said he was aware that almost everyday, there was a serious report of bullying at schools but some of these cases never reach the public domain because of the refusal of parents to take the step in that direction.
Nevertheless, he said the issue must not be buried in the sand, adding that bullying was constantly taking place in schools and was having a very serious psychological effect on children to the point where some do not want to attend school anymore.
“It is very serious and the media can speak for itself in terms of the real serious reports that we have been having over the past months.
“Now, if you have a child that on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday [and] Friday is up extremely early to get ready for school but on Wednesdays that child don’t want to go to school . . . Wednesday might be the day that two or three forms are coming together and there might be a person in that group who is bullying your child,” he cautioned.