Chief Executive Officer of Supreme Counselling, Shawn Clarke wants to see a change of attitude in the society towards bullying.
“We still have this thing in society, among some people, that we believe that bullying is a rite of passage and it teaches our boys to be men. That is not working anymore. We need to get with the programme,” Clarke insisted while speaking with Barbados TODAY at a walk against bullying and other forms of youth violence, organized by Supreme Counselling.
The youth advocate said it is time for parents, educators and the public to realize that it is their responsibility to tackle the issue of violence and create solutions or opportunities for young people.
“Adults need to realize that they are responsible, everybody must get on board to fight against bullying. It must be like tourism, it must be everybody’s business. We can no longer say it is not my child so it is not going to concern me,” Clarke argued.
He pointed out that the chief offenders in acts of bullying are the spectators or bystanders who chose not to intervene, adding that by refraining from speaking up, they are encouraging the act of violence.
“We need to work on the bystanders, we need to let the bystanders know do not stand and laugh because they are saying to the bully ‘I like what you are doing, continue,’”
“We need to stand firm, it must be a collective effort and we need to let our young people know that it is not something that you do,” Clarke said.
With youth violence on the rise over the past year, Clarke said a lack of community spirit and community life is a contributing factor.
“The unfortunate reality is that we don’t have a lot of community life anymore. We have a lot of community centres and yes there are things happening in community centres but . . . are they geared towards the young people in communities?
“I think the community centres have to become more accessible to our young people,” he said.
Clarke went on to argue that the education system does not embrace those on the technical and vocational path.
“We have a situation where the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic that would have been built for non-academic students, they are now being disposed because those positions are being given to students with five and six CXCs. If you give those positions to the academic child then what are you leaving the non-academic child to do? To lime on the block?”
“We really need to get systems and mechanisms in place and we really need to deal with our young people, meet them where they are at and address things that are most important to them,” Clarke added.