Eliminating bullying is a project which needs a collaborative approach on the part of the home, school and community.

This was the underlying message sent today by Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, as he addressed a prize-giving ceremony of the Barbados Government Information Service and United Nations Children???s Fund (BGIS/UNICEF) poster competition on bullying, at the Island Inn Hotel.

Noting that the school should be an oasis ??? a place of peace allowing for the development of self-esteem, self-actualisation, friendships and relationships, Minister Jones said: ???All of us have to be committed to the project…the reduction of bullying in our schools and ultimately the elimination of bullying in our schools.???

Stressing that this, however, had to start with strong education within our homes, he noted that the majority of our young people were reasonably self-actualised and disciplined but there were some who created a threat to others, and others who, because of so many other issues that they faced, tended to reach out to harm others.

While urging persons to inculcate a ???ripple of concern and care??? into our children, he said that at the level of the Ministry, there was zero tolerance towards bullying. Explaining that it was extremely harmful, he pointed out that Ministry personnel had, at times, witnessed the extent of this on some children who either experienced withdrawal or had to be moved from school to school to ???find that oasis for that child to learn???.

As he pointed out that there were some who could respond to bullying, the Education Minister argued that there were others who recoiled into themselves and suffered.

He added that some committed suicide in other countries and there were ???horror stories??? of people not being able to withstand the extent of bullying within their environment which was also globalised with the advent of the internet and social media.

Bullying was said to be a combination of many factors. ???We know that it is part of learnt behaviour???Verbal and physical abuse, severe denial within the domestic environment of the child all come together to create bullies. People who in their temperament have inculcated some of these negative values and systems into themselves, who then take it out on others,??? Mr. Jones stressed.

He also alluded to children in groups ???picking on one child???; older children abusing the younger child and peer bullying where the same age cohort unfairs/bullies one another, none of whom could carry the immensity and enormity of bullying, ???especially in a situation where their own home environment is fractured and dysfunctional???.

Recalling that the systems in the past were ???so strong??? that they worked against bullying, the former teacher explained that children knew their limits, and how far they could go because the entire community placed a set of values within them. ???Children who had some disagreement and fought along the streets were disciplined by adults right there and then and then you were still reported to your home, to your parents,??? Mr. Jones recalled.

Those present also heard that the Ministry was conducting research on issues related to bullying to garner information that would chart the appropriate course of action and behaviour. While noting that the students in the BGIS/UNICEF poster competition would have had their own interpretation on what was bullying, the Education Minister said: ???I am sure some of it did not simply come from the imagination, some of it came from [the] experience of either being bullied or watching someone else being bullied.???

???People get hit, they get wounded, they are pushed or are kicked,??? Mr. Jones noted, explaining that the bully came in different forms- he was the one who ruled the cricket game, the person who could not share, care or accept a different position and was also the one causing verbal harm with the teasing of other children.


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