Video prompts call for bullying to be taken more seriously

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The Halo Foundation has joined with the Director of Education in reiterating that no form of bullying will be tolerated in schools, saying the issue should not be taken lightly, given the numerous incidents that have arisen lately.

The Halo Foundation has been lobbying to stop bullying across the country and, in light of the content of a recent video – which has gone viral – involving two male students at a local secondary school, the organization says it could not stay silent.

“We here at the HALO foundation have a zero-tolerance policy on the issue of bullying. We in no way at all would like to see the issue that happened recently at the secondary school happening at any other educational institution or any public or private place in Antigua and Barbuda,” Cuthbert Forbes, the Public Relations Officer of the Halo Foundation said yesterday.

 “Criticisms in early parts of our campaign were that it’s not a real issue in Antigua and Barbuda, but more and more we are seeing the prevalence of it and it is a real issue in our secondary schools – even in our primary schools, in our communities and our workplace.

“So we want to really work along with the Ministry of Education in the future to get this programme into all schools across Antigua and Barbuda and to sensitize the public about the effects of bullying, and really bring training – and compassion training as well – to not only people who are affected by it, but also people who think it is not a real issue.”

In October, 2018 the non-profit organization launched its bullying prevention campaign at the Ottos Comprehensive School. The initiative was also piloted at the Antigua Grammar School and the Pares Secondary School.

Forbes told OBSERVER media that the foundation will continue to push to institute its anti-bullying programme in all schools across the island and is especially interested in educating naysayers who doubt the prevalence of bullying.

The video in question depicts one boy attempting to strangle another with a cord from an electric fan. The victim remained calm during the ordeal and continued reading a book even though he was dealt several slaps.

The perpetrator in the video was being cheered on by other students who were present in the classroom as he continued to abuse the young man.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology released a statement saying it will enforce its zero-tolerance policy against such actions.

The Director of Education, Clare Browne, confirmed that the incident occurred last week and the school’s management, having learnt of what had transpired, immediately suspended several students and is promising to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.

The release also stated that, “While action cannot be taken by the ministry simply by viewing the video, believed to have been taped by another pupil, every effort will be made to properly investigate what took place”, according to the Education Director.

A report is being compiled by the school’s principal, which will then be delivered to the office of the Director of Education for review and action.

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