Education Minister, Ronald Jones believes that young people should use their voice to speak out in a strong way about whatever impacts upon them in a negative or positive way.

His comments came yesterday while addressing the official launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme in the Garrison Room of the Hilton Barbados Resort.

Pleased at the showcase of talent displayed by young persons in the programme that falls under the aegis of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, Mr. Jones said, ???If a society becomes mired in only the negative that society dies. It does not have the strength to carry on.???

Speaking about the issue of bullying, he noted that there had always been such behaviour in Barbados but queried whether this should be allowed to continue.

???That which damages the soul of human beings, damages the soul of young people. That is what we have to address,??? he said, noting that it had to be seen in ???very broad terms??? and ???in a wider context???, where one examines what causes a male or female who is young or old to engage in such activity.

Mr. Jones added: ???Domestic violence is a graduation of bullying among the youth??? It is rife not only in Barbados but among human beings across the world. Why do we behave that way towards each other? Why would I seek to deprive you of what is yours? Why would I wrap a string, cord or whatever around the neck of another individual? Why would I shake you down????

Acknowledging that these questions required the society to ???dig deeper??? to find out the complexity of bullying, Mr. Jones pointed out that there was evil in the world and lack of respect for one another.

While he noted that there was a view that bullies and criminals might have been so from conception or were cultured to be so, he said if it was just the culture, then we would have to change the culture.

In order to do this, the Minister suggested that all persons in the society must work together to understand and assist in changing people. ???If people don???t go through that modification of self, we are going to continue to have bullying; continue to have persons preying on others, [and] preying on the defenseless,??? he opined.

It was pointed out too that sometimes the bullied child may reach the ???point of??no return??? as a result of having gone through different stages of being bullied and in order to protect themselves would retaliate.

???Persons responsible for that bullying behaviour would have made a criminal out of that individual,??? the Minister said, noting that if the bullied person had to face the court that individual might eventually ???get off??? but still would have to go through the trauma of going before the court.

Mr. Jones, who is also responsible for Science, Technology and Innovation, decried the use of the internet for cyberbullying and said a lot of the information was not true about young boys and girls in the school system but was aimed at causing pain and hurt because of hatred.

Commending the efforts by Supreme Counselling to address bullying, the Education Minister pointed out that it must conjoin with the efforts by schools to root out bullying as this could not be achieved alone.

Thus far, four schools have already signed on to the Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme. They are Frederick Smith, Lester Vaughan and Grantley Adams secondary Schools and Wesley Hall Infants.

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