Spotlight on bullying at school panel discussion

POSTED: 11/14/12 12:24 PM

GREAT BAY- Students from secondary schools on the Dutch and French side of the island will meet on November 30 for a special panel discussion on bullying. This issue has been at the top of the agenda for educators, non-governmental organizations and parents, who say bullies and the bullied both lose out on a secure childhood and a healthy adulthood.

The panel discussion is being put on by the Voice Of Our Children (VOOC) foundation and the Department of Sport and Youth Affairs. It will be held at the Belair Community Centre from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.

President of VOOC, Sharmaine Olivacce told Today that the event is long overdue. She is hoping that students will be candid and bring additional intellectual thought to the ongoing debate on how to stop bullying, which has become widespread in schools.

A yearlong anti bullying campaign was launched and it has gotten the commitment of government but policy makers say they need to hear from the students themselves, those who are victims of bullying and those who perpetrate it, many times because of deeply ingrained psycho-social problems.

Olivacce said that research has conclusively determined that children who are bullies often become violent adults.

“We need to stop this cycle before more of our youth are expelled from school, end up in gangs or worse yet, prison,” she emphasized.

The panel discussion is being held during the observance of Rights of the Child Week, here on the island.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child protects children’s rights by setting standards in health care, education, and legal, civil and social services. In general, the Convention says that children everywhere have the right to survival, to develop to the fullest, to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

For now organizers are busy selecting the main speakers for the event. But the intention is to have as many students as possible get an opportunity to share their experiences or ask questions about their rights.

One thirteen year old St. Maarten Academy PSVE student said that she can hardly wait to hear what will be the outcome of the panel discussion.

“It seems like nobody understands what we go through, the teachers, our parents and sometimes not even us. I am always asking myself why do I have to be picked on because I choose to take in my education? Why do I have to be afraid of the Bloodz or the Crypts or whatever they call themselves? I think we as young people watch too much TV and then we want to act it out on others.”

Arrangements have already been put in place for school buses to safely shuttle students to the anti-bullying panel discussion.

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