Bullying prevention campaign launched at Ottos Comprehensive School

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Chairperson of the Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS) Olweus Bullying Prevention Committee, Esther Nicholas, in an interview with OBSERVER media over the weekend, said that the initiative being piloted in three government secondary schools will ultimately lead to a better learning and teaching environment for students and teachers.
“The programme has been implemented in Barbados, and it has had good reviews so far, but it really originated in the United States. Schools in the U.S. have fully implemented it and what they found there was that, once the programme is done properly, it reduces the occurrences of bullying at the schools, and once that happens, more teaching and learning can take place,” Nicholas explained.
She added that as educators, they find themselves dealing with a lot of issues on a daily basis instead of actually imparting knowledge or having constructive contact time with students. According to the chairperson, teachers at the institution as well as parents received bully prevention training on October 12. The training was conducted by certified Olweus trainer and consultant, Shawn Clarke, out of Barbados.
The launch was attended by hundreds of students of the OCS as well as staff and organisers. Nicholas stressed the point that bully prevention will take more than just the efforts of teachers and parents, but all stakeholders. She said that this was the reason that the launch involved cafeteria workers, farmhands, school bus drivers and cleaning personnel.
The objective of the initiative is to minimise or stamp out bullying at the institution completely, and to equip students and staff with the skills to identify and resolve instances of bullying. Nicholas said that when the programme is fully implemented she expects the environment at the school to be calmer, safer and less stressful.
She said that bullying tends to make the victims unwilling to attend school, but if they are able to see that there is a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, then the victims would be more willing to be present, and teachers and administration would be able to focus their energies elsewhere.
She revealed that more training is on the way for both staff and parents as the implementation of the programme continues. She also disclosed that an app will  be launched shortly to enable students to anonymously report instances of bullying.
The initiative is being sponsored by the Halo Foundation headed by Lady Sandra Williams in conjunction with the Maria Holder Memorial Trust, and it is being piloted at the Antigua Grammar School as well as the Pares Secondary School. Former OCS student, Jude
Peters, was celebrated at the launch for designing the school’s anti-bullying logo.

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