??Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, addressing the audience at the launch of the inaugural Debating/Speak-Off Competition at the Hilda Skeene Primary School. (Golvin Brewster/BGIS)

Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones has broken his silence on the much debated issue of bullying in schools.

In a passionate speech to an audience which included principals, teachers, students and education officials, he stressed that there would be zero tolerance of this type of behaviour in schools and if need be, those disruptive influences would be removed.

Mr. Jones said the Ministry of Education was exploring a number of options to address the issue of bullying, among them the establishment of an educational custodial institution to “protect the majority from a violent minority”.

Speaking at the official launch of the inaugural Debating/Speak-Off Competition for Schools in the St. Philip North Constituency at the Hilda Skeene Primary School, he admitted that principals and teachers were unable to know everything that took place in a school.?? However, he urged them to be vigilant and “keep their ears to the ground”.

The Acting Prime Minister was adamant that he would not allow schools to be taken hostage by a misguided few.

“The laws of the land do not give you the right to demean someone or take property from someone…Parents and principals, when you have encountered such events; there is one body that deals with that…call the police… and their parents since they are minors,” he implored.

Citing the complaint of one parent who said her son was being harassed at school, and had to hand over his lunch money each day, the Education Minister expressed the view that ??too many children suffered in silence from constant harassment.

“I am angry. No parent should have to call me early one morning to say their son is suffering from these indignities… I am bothered by this. When we treat humans in such a deprecating manner, it is not good,” he asserted.

Responding to the recent video on Facebook and television of one student being bullied, Mr. Jones said he was extremely disheartened that such an incident could take place among the island’s school children.

??”When I saw it, I became extremely disappointed. You cannot seek to destroy the character of someone…and then a child with a cell phone recording this demeaning aspect. It is demeaning…” he stressed.

The Education Minister laid the blame squarely at the feet of some parents who refused to play an active role or take interest in the activities of their children, thereby placing undue pressure on the school system.

“Every adult has to [discipline] their children whether in the home, school or community. If you don’t respond to these infractions, they will [increase]. These children could become criminals,” he stressed. ??

He continued: “I want to be a vigourous campaigner, I cannot stand for nonsense…I will break the back of this behaviour in our schools.” (AS/BGIS)


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