Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, receives an anti-bullying campaign t-shirt from St. George Secondary School Anti-Bullying Coordinating Committee Member, Starr St. Hill, at today’s launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme, at the school. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Young people in Barbados have been told that more and more the country is seeing not only the physical but also the emotional scars that are left in the wake of bullying behaviour.

This was underscored by Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, as she highlighted the benefits of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme, which was launched today at the St. George Secondary School in Constant, St. George.

Dr. Archer-Bradshaw, who noted that telling someone their head or nose was big was part of bullying, warned students that though not physical, these scars became imprinted on the souls of both the victims of the bullying and the perpetrators of the actions as they grew older; informing how they behaved, long after the incident has passed.

Adding that a child may come to believe the negative remarks and not see him/herself in “very good light”, she stressed that acts of bullying on social media were also wrong and urged students to think twice about hurting someone’s feelings or hurting them physically.

Touting the virtues of the programme to students, the Chief Education Officer said: “If we are to build attitudes of tolerance and respect – qualities that are the bedrock of a positive and productive society – participation in this Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme is certainly a step in the right direction for our schools. This programme recognises the value of home, school and community partnerships to tackle an age-old problem, and this school is to be commended for embracing this student-centered intervention.”

Staff and students also heard that the programme had a comprehensive approach, with its school-wide, classroom, individual, and community components.  

Noting that it focuses on long-term change that creates a safe and positive school climate, the Chief Education Officer acknowledged that training, already being provided to the school’s staff, spoke volumes to the intended longevity of the initiative.

Commending this step, she said: “It is hoped that you remain committed to the challenge of ensuring students come to school in an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. Along with this, there is the implication that this intervention ought to represent a lifestyle change in the school so that it is not merely a show today. It offers a framework for creating systemic change by building a school climate that discourages bullying and addresses it effectively, if it occurs.”

As she urged parents and others in the community to get on board with helping the Constant, St. George institution, she congratulated the steering committee for ensuring the programme would consist of activities for engaging all stakeholders, inclusive of families and community.  

And, the Chief Education Officer stressed: “The activities include but are not limited to educational events about bullying issues, communicating with parents regarding bullying incidents, and facilitating peaceful resolution of issues. This approach lends credence to the old adage that it indeed takes a village to raise a child.”

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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