This is a time of high concern about violent behaviour by young people. As a nation, we are in a period of reflection as to what can be done to stem this tide. Schools throughout Barbados continue to scramble for ways to manage anger and aggression in their students. Recently we have seen the escalation of bullying. Some people believe that it is being used as an avenue by our young people to vent and release their anger. Others believe that young people are angry but that our school system has not been able to formulate a workable programme to assist these persons in ways of identifying and dealing with that anger. Some say that unless something is done and done quickly to address this growing trend we run the risk of seeing further deterioration of the moral fibre of our society and extensive pressure being placed on our penal system and ample loss of family members and friends.
Bullying is a wide-ranging predicament in our schools and has a negative impact on school climate and on students’ right to learn in a protected and secure environment without fear. Once considered as a rite of passage or undisruptive behaviour that helps build character, bullying is now known to have long-term academic, physical, and emotional effects on both the victim and the bully. The scope and impact of bullying demands a coherent, integrated and comprehensive holistic public approach. It is therefore the responsibility of teachers, parents, counsellors, educators, pastors and other facets of our society to help bring in effective change in the lives of our young people through systematic training and guidance so that those individuals become well rounded personalities and also successful in life. Here, life skills play an important role in moulding the individual. Thus in short, life skills are essentially those abilities that help promote mental well-being and competence in young people as they face the realities of life.
The bullying prevention effort of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development was made possible by The Maria Holder Memorial Trust through full financial and moral support to successfully implement what is now the largest application of any bullying prevention programme in the world the “Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme”, (OBPP).
The launch of this programme in Barbados and in particular to the four schools piloting this project would not have been possible without the full involvement of The Maria Holder Memorial Trust. Their willingness to come on board as a partner without hesitation speaks volumes of their commitment to the positive development of our young people and by extension our country. It gives me great pleasure and a sense of fulfilment to have been afforded the opportunity to spearhead the initiative of introducing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme to this region but cannot stress enough that the true heroes in this exercise would have to be the ones who said yes, we will put up the financial resources needed to make a dream a reality; I speak of none other than The Maria Holder Memorial Trust.
Shawn Clarke, BS.C, BDMS, MS.C HRM