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The Editor Speaks: Bullying

colin-wilsonweb2It is three years since I wrote an Editorial on bullying where I highlighted the new form called Cyberbullying. It hasn’t waned.

October is Bullying Prevention Month in the Cayman Islands and a government press release highlighted this form of bullying. The release states “The results of the National Drug Council’s 2014 survey, its most recent poll on bullying in the Cayman Islands, found that 13- to 15-year-olds are at the highest risk of physical and psychological aggression.”

So the slogan for the month is “Take a Stand Against Bullying” and has been organized by the Family Resource Centre (FRC) of the Department of Counselling Services.

The campaign hopes to educate the public about how to protect children from the effects of bullying and unite communities by encouraging social responsibility.

They are trying to help promote all this by organizing two competitions that promote an anti-bullying theme. A song contest and poster designing is what the organizers hope will spark all students 11 – 17 over our islands to take part.

The FRC is also encouraging a national conversation on the issue via local broadcasters. It is also partnering with several businesses in sponsoring anti-bullying public service announcements that will suggest ways in which students and others can get involved to stop bullying and support victims.

There will also be “Stood Up” T-shirts on sale to the public and businesses are to be encouraged to have their workers “dress down” on October 14th and wear these ‘T-shirts. All schools on the islands will be asked to do the same.

On October 19th the FRC will be holding a parenting session with the catchy name “How to Bully-proof Your Child”.

It all sounds good but will the anti-bullying message be strong enough to continue past October?

If one looks at the headlines coming from the US media one would believe bullying is on the decline. School-based bullying is if you believe the new data that has come forward from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

“As schools become safer, students are better able to thrive academically and socially,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “The Department, along with our federal partners and others, has been deeply involved in the fight against bullying in our nation’s schools. Even though we’ve come a long way over the past few years in educating the public about the health and educational impacts that bullying can have on students, we still have more work to do to ensure the safety of our nation’s children.”

Encouraging. Yes … and no.

No, because what has been left out of most of the reporting is cyberbullying, via social media and mobile phones, is on the increase.

The figures chart the rise of cyberbullying despite some school-age children not being even asked about it.

What is also worrying is that is a report from the UK by the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the National Children’s Bureau said that “teachers and GPs complained of receiving little or no training in how to deal with the traumatic effects of bullying on children.”

Does the same apply here? Are our teachers and GP’s so trained?

The UK report goes on to say, “The nationwide survey of 16-25 year-olds found that half of those who were bullied reported mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, with some reporting more serious instances of self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

“But a large majority of teachers in the same survey said that they were ill-equipped to deal with the effects of bullying, while 126 family doctors questioned by the Royal College of General Practitioners said they had no training or resources to support young people with problems resulting from bullying.

“More than 90% of the GPs said they had seen adults with symptoms that were related to childhood bullying.”

None of these concerns seem to have been raised by the FRC and I will seek to find out for myself.

Watch this space.

If I don’t get an answer I can perhaps bully them into providing one….?


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