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Getting to the Root of It, Bullying Identification & Prevention

Part 3

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Date: 
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Following is the final excerpt from a speech given by noted Tobago criminologist

Dr Wendell Wallace at an Anti-Bullying Conference, 10th May 2017 at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain. Several secondary school children from Tobago attended the event.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT A CHILD MAY BE BULLYING OTHERS?

Look for these factors:

Always getting into physical or verbal fight, have friends who bully others, are increasingly aggressive, always being sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently, have unexplained extra money or new belongings, blame others for their problems, do not accept responsibility for their actions and are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity.

IMPACT OF BULLYING

Bullying has many negative impacts and often leaves long-lasting scars that are hard to heal. Bullying is dangerous, bullying is demeaning and bullying is destructive both for the student who bullies and the student who is bullied. It can leave deep-seated psychological scars. It can lead to low self-esteem among children, feelings of no to low self-worth, depression, withdrawal, lack of interest in school, sudden medical ailments and even suicidal tendencies.

Bullied students may show increased school absenteeism, diminished educational achievement, behaviour issues, low self-esteem, sleep deprivation, depression, anxiety, and self-harm (Dressler-Hawkes & Whitehead, 2009).

Bullied students are also at risk for physical symptoms including stomach pain, sleep disturbances, headaches, tension, bedwetting, fatigue, and decreased appetite (Kowalski and Limber, 2013). The consequences of bullying can continue into adulthood (Copeland et al., 2013).

Boys who are frequently bullied have been found to suffer more often from anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, and panic disorders in adulthood (Copeland et al., 2013).

BULLYING PREVENTION STRATEGIES

Bullying prevention refers to strategies specifically designed to prevent bullying behaviour such as developing and implementing programmes for bullying prevention as well as embedding anti-bullying messages into each curriculum area and in every year.

These prevention strategies revolve around three major tenets:

• Be Safe

• Be Respectful

• Be Responsible.

Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help young people prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. Administrators of schools can also take steps to make their facilities bully- free.

They can do the following:

Have a specific and clear anti-bullying policy distinct from a general behaviour management plan. The policy should name specific bullying behaviours, express intolerance for those behaviours, and summarise measures the school will take to prevent bullying.

• Have consistent and immediate consequences for bullying and other aggressive behaviour.

• Give praise for good social and helpful behaviour.

• Increase supervision on the playground, in hallways, at bus stops, and in cafeterias/gymnasiums.

• Provide training for all staff members in bullying identification. Involve parents. • Investigate bullying incidents and work with the children involved to prevent future incidents.

• Implement a comprehensive bullying prevention programme.

• Help children understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely.

• Tell students that bullying is unacceptable. Make sure they know how to get help.

• Keep the lines of communication open, check in often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.

• Encourage them to do what they love. Interests and hobbies can boost confidence, help them make friends, and protect them from bullying behaviour.

• Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

OTHER BULLYING PREVENTION STRATEGIES

To conclude, I have spoken to you about bullying, its effects, how it has increased over time and how bullying can be stopped. Remember if you see someone who is being bullied say or do something, with caution of course, because you might be able to assist them. To the conference organisers, thank you for the good work that you are doing with this conference. I am certain that it would positively impact the future generation of leaders in Trinidad and Tobago. So if you see something, say something and remember, STOP BULLYING… IT BEGINS WITH YOU! Thank you.

Editor’s Note: Tobago Today congratulates Dr Wendell Wallace on being awarded the 2017 Frederic Milton Thrasher Award for “Superior Accomplishments in Gang Research”. It is one of the most prestigious awards in the field of criminology given for outstanding research in gang violence.