Children who entered this year???s Barbados Government Information Service and United Nations Children???s Fund (BGIS/UNICEF) poster competition on bullying were given the opportunity to express themselves and let their voices be heard on a problem which affects many young and not so young persons worldwide.

Acting Chief Information Officer, Sharon Lynch, underlined this today as she addressed the prize-giving ceremony at the Island Inn Hotel.

???It exists in schools, playgrounds, colleges and as we were made aware recently, on sports teams,??? she said of bullying.

Ms. Lynch further noted that while BGIS??? mission was to inform and educate, ensuring that the public knew about and understood Government???s policies and plan, the organisation also saw itself ???as a vital link between central government and the people served by Government???.

???We believe that in order to get our message across to clients in different categories that it is sometimes necessary to move beyond our traditional methods of dissemination via the mass media and stimulate interest in particular subjects using creative methods. Hence our willingness to be involved in projects such as this one,??? she stressed.

UNICEF???s Representative for the Eastern Caribbean, Khin Sandi-Lwin commended the presence of parents at the awards ceremony and said: ???It [the presence of parents] is really the key factor, the missing link that forms bullying ??? what makes a bully.???

Pointing out that psychological testing around the world showed the profile of a bully was that of ???a child that is insecure, who feels inadequate, fearful of his/her environment,??? she said he/she was often a victim of violence or had witnessed such at home and was often neglected at home.

???That profile of a bully,??? she added, ???is really one of someone shouting out and calling for help that is, saying ???I am powerless, I have to show power [and] therefore, I take it out on someone smaller than I am???.???

???This is where parents and teachers can make that difference to bring that power within; so a child who is bullied can be able to withstand that bullying because of that inner confidence, self-worth and self-esteem that will [build] that strength of character,??? the UNICEF Representative said.

It was also noted that bullying in schools was where the ???beginning of violence is first manifested in public??? and Ms. Lwin noted: ???It happened in private in homes; but in public that???s where it starts being shown and unless we really tackle this issue and talk about it???it would be another difficult issue.???

While congratulating the BGIS and the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation for making the poster competition possible, Ms. Lwin said she looked forward to the competition entering the electronic age where a category could be added for secondary students to develop a slogan via texting.

The competition, which was held under the theme Bullying Is Everybody???s Problem, How Do I Prevent It, Detect it and Report, received over 100 entries with the majority coming from the primary schools.

Liam Francis-Thornhill, a Class 1 student of St. Stephen???s Primary School emerged the overall winner.

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