Kiwanian calls for tough action against bullying
Orangefield Primary School students celebrate with their winning trophy at the Kiwanis Anti-Bullying Video Competition Award Ceremony held at the Portmore Muncipal Council in St Catherine on Friday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

A senior Kiwanian has called on schools to take a no-holds-barred approach to bullying.

The call comes as the service club, with the help of its Kiwanis youth leadership programmes — K-Kids for lower school students, Builders Club for adolescents, and Key Club for teens — attempts to tackle the issue, which is a global problem.

"Schools will have to take action," Pauline Samuels, lieutenant governor for Division 23 West of the Kiwanis Club in Jamaica said Friday during an awards ceremony for the winners of an Anti-Bullying Kids Video Competition.

The competition was conducted by the Kiwanis clubs of Central Portmore and Sunshine City Portmore for schools in Division 23 West, which includes St Catherine, Clarendon, and Manchester.

A Kiwanis Club leader says bullying affects children's ability to learn because sometimes they don't want to go to school and when they do go they are very nervous.

"What we want is for the schools to pay attention to these kind of events, to take action, to do something about it. The schools have to ensure that action is taken when these events happen because several children are impacted as a result of this," she told the ceremony held at the Portmore Municipal Council in St Catherine.

"I am very happy and appreciative to the Kiwanis clubs of Central Portmore and Sunshine City Portmore for this initiative that they have undertaken. Bullying is very real in our society, not only in Jamaica but all across the world. It's a major problem in our society that we have not been able to stop. And we have to remember that bullying does not only affect the victim, it affects so many persons. It's not only affecting the victim who is being bullied but the children in the schools who are witnessing what is being done, it affects them too," she pointed out.

Added Samuels: "It affects their ability to learn because sometimes they don't want to go to school, and when they do go they are very nervous. So it affects the student's personality, it affects their whole attitude, it affects their self-esteem."

Schools, she said, should ensure that parents are drafted into any solution, and called on children to also muscle in on individuals seen bullying others.

"Ensure that the parents are involved so that you can all make a decision as to the actions that are taken, because these days we have to be very careful as to how we treat with our children in school. Children, we want you, when you see it, to tell it. Tell it to your teachers; tell it to your parents so that something can be done, because oftentimes the teachers are not aware. So when you speak up it will help not only the person that is being bullied but yourself," she said.

In the competition, which was launched in November 2022, 10 primary schools with Builders Clubs programmes across the three parishes were invited to participate. Six of the 10 which participated were Belmont Park Primary Builders Club, Bridgeport Primary Builders Club, Hellshire Heights Builders Club, Orangefield Primary Builders Club, St John's Primary Builders Club, and Waterford Primary Builders Club.

On Friday, Bridgeport Primary, Orangefield Primary, and St John's Primary walked away with prizes and trophies for submitting the top three videos. Their participating counterparts were given consolation prizes.

Participating schools submitted a five-minute video on the topic 'Enough Is Enough, Stop the Bullying — Report It, Don't Support It'. The winning videos will ultimately be uploaded to the service club's social media pages.

Earlier this month, bullying was blamed for the death of 15-year-old Holmwood Technical High School student Nastacia Turner in Mendez Town, Trelawny. The girl's 15-year-old cousin was taken into custody in relation to her death immediately after. Initial reports were that the two girls were fighting when they both fell and Turner hit her head.

A whopping 70 per cent of Jamaican students surveyed in 2016 reported that they had been bullied. That number is projected to increase.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter

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