Community-Based Approach to Address Bullying

Dozens of parents, members of Parent/Teachers Association and community-based organisations met for a session on Parenting in the 21st Century: A Focus on Bullying. The session, hosted by the Community Development St Patrick District Office of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, took place at the Fyzabad Regional Complex on Friday 7th April, 2017.

“This issue is one that is close to our hearts in the south-western region,” said Mrs Natasha Ballah – Supervisor I, Community Development Division, Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. The Community Development Division – St Patrick invited Sgt. Roger Worrell, Community Police Unit and Mrs Wendy Samuel, Youth Development Officer as panellists to discuss the increase in school bullying.

Sgt. Worrell took a unique approach to the session saying, “Bullying doesn’t only take place in schools. Before I address the issue of bullying, I want to start with Domestic Violence and Abuse.” He pointed out, “When some young people see their loved ones involved in fighting, they too resort to violence to solve problems.” He also urged parents in these types of relationships to leave. “Do it for your children. There is help out there and we, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, want to help you.” He further informed those in attendance of the procedure for getting out of abusive relationships.

On the matter of students, Sgt. Worrell encouraged parents, “Get your children involved in community activities. This gives them a chance to interact with other people so they can build effective relationships and coping skills.”

Mrs Wendy Samuel – Youth Development Officer of the Gender and Child Affairs Division was the other panellist and she echoed Sgt Worrell’s views. “Everything starts in the home and as neighbours and members of the community, we must not be afraid to act. If you see your neighbour’s children going astray, we need to speak up and speak out.”

At the end of their presentations, the panellists fielded questions from the workshop attendees which covered issues including the steps parents should take if their children are bullied. Mrs Williams advised that teachers can refer the bully and victim to Guidance Officers, Youth Officers or School Psychologists.

Before the end of the session, attendees were also informed of bullied children so they could intervene. These signs included children who:

  • Are ill often with headaches, stomach-aches and other complaints
  • Take unusual routes for school
  • Withdraw from family and friends
  • Need ‘extra money’ for school supplies
  • Have problems sleeping
  • A lack of appetite

This “Parenting in the 21st Century – A Focus on Bullying” was an initiative of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts – Community Development Division – St Patrick. Community Sensitisation Workshops are facilitated by all of the nine (9) Community Development District Offices across Trinidad and provide a forum for the dissemination of information on topics that are relevant and specific to communities.