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The Motion is therefore carried.

Leader of Assembly Business.

3.17 P.M

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, as we close, I think both the speakers who spoke about the increasing issue of violence among our teenage female students and that is, we have recognized that that is an increase in phenomena.   

We have asked our Student Support Services in conjunction with UNIFED to come up with a programme that will speak specifically to treating with those issues.   We recognized that that of course, largely comes from the challenge you have with the role models in the media now that are more aggressive and have a particular kind of mindset as female mentors. Therefore, we have to present some alternative mentors, more positive mentors to our young women if they are to emulate those kinds of behaviour.  So, we have recognized that and it is a programme at this point in time and a specific targeted intervention is being developed.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I want to say, as we close, definitely our mindset as we go forward, our mindset must change, when we look at our statistics it suggests that there is a level of underreporting.  We also recognize that very often people see this as a rite of passage and therefore, the mindset must change.   People must recognize that bullying is wrong and these incidences must be reported.  

Very often we have challenges with parents coming to us and saying, that these incidences does happen and we feel that it would have been reported within the school’s environment and they are not satisfied that it moved from where it should have been and must be taken seriously.   Therefore, they are saying that the mindset must change and persons must recognize that those incidences must be reported, they must be taken seriously and of course they must be addressed.   Definitely, we have a zero tolerance on violence in our schools.   That is clear, that has always been the mantra that continues today.  

As we go forward in summary, as we said before, we will continue to ensure that training takes place for our Teachers and our Administrators to ensure that they can be more effective in managing the school and in treating 

with the different kinds of students that present themselves and come through the school system.

We, of course, will continue to provide support for the students both those affected, those involved and the families to ensure again that we get the kind of student and the kind of child that we want within the school and we produce the kind of learner that we alternatively want.  But I think what we must recognize that our systems are set up that way that is the approach.  Our approach to the education must be about equity and not equality.  

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, equality suggests, that you give all of the individuals who come to school the same amount of attention and resources.

Whereas equity speaks to giving the individual what is necessary for them to get to a particular point.   If we take that approach we would recognize that there are children who will go to school and come from the right environment and therefore, have quite little intervention to make them succeed but the reality is that we are going to get a number of children coming from different environments who did not have the right kind of support and would require that kind of attention necessary to make sure that they succeed.  So therefore, support for students and families are key.

Remediation of the individuals involved in – I do not want to say, “Perpetrators” or “Offenders” but individuals who would be deemed, “The Bully” to ensure that they can move pass that circumstance given the necessary attention that they can stop, they can move pass what might be a phase in their life and therefore, get back to the business of learning and developing.  

We intend to do that through of course, our Out of School or In School Programmes on Children Support but also through our Out of Schools Suspension Programmes that provide support for students who maybe out of school because of these kinds of negative behaviours and of  course, ultimately in referrals to programmes like Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Mylat.  

They have of course, have other programmes like the Cadet Force as the Assistant Secretary of Sport Mr. Pitt alluded to in terms of the role of Sport in providing that kind of support in the community.  All of this, Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, is an assimilation of the strategies in the way forward.  

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I therefore, would want to just leave us as it is the school’s legitimate role to provide a safe environment for respectful self-expression for all students and for teaching and learning to take place.  While our students may hold different opinions or convictions, they must treat one another with equal respect. 

For all individuals bullying is never an acceptable behaviour.  Bullying is an intentional cruelty in a variety of forms but regardless of the form, no person young or old should go through this.  While some feel it is a normal right of passage to face this abuse in life those ongoing the abuse certainly feels differently.

This Motion, this afternoon is a recognition by this august House that bullying and violence is a major issue affecting our school and needs to be addressed.   By all signals this afternoon, it is a clear message that we are going about and we have been going about eradicating it and if we have to ensure that it comes to none, all of us must get involved to ensure that we restore our schools to that sacred place of learning that it should be.   I want to just read two quotes, one from Mahatma Ghandi that is essentially about not losing faith in our children.  He says, “You must not lose faith in humanity, humanity is like an ocean.  If a few drops of the ocean are dirty the ocean does not become dirty.”  I am saying this to you because with the numerous media houses that we have and the influx of social media very often it looks like everybody and all of our children had a negative when it is not the case and therefore, I want to say that we should not lose faith in our children, there should always be a sense of hope.

Then, lastly, you know Barack Obama speaking on the issues of bullying in high schools and the schools in the United States says; “Each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness, no one deserves to be bullied.”  I think that it is clear – school is supposed to be a friendly and a happy environment.  Your school days should be happy days of your life – (barring exams).   School days should be happy days because every day of your life, you look back on and long for.  I think that is important each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness - no one deserves to be bullied.  

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this Motion standing in my name.  

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of the people of Tobago, Trinidad and of course, the globe a Happy and a Holy Easter!  Easter means a lot for different communities and is celebrated in many different ways and I am therefore, however, you choose to celebrate it I want to wish you a happy and holy one.  

I trust for those of our students, of course, we come to the end of our Second Term that we come back refreshed, re-invigorated to go forward and our teachers in our Third Term of our academic 2015/2016.  

Thank you.

Of course, let me just wish the best of our athletes off to Carifta.  We have both Carifta athletes on the Carifta Track and Field Team and we have athletes on the Carifta swim team so let us wish them all the best and all successes.  So, with those words, Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I thank you.  [Desk thumping]

Question put and agreed to. 


Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, I take that as a hint to have my winding up be wound up as quickly as possible.  

     Let me thank all of my colleagues who spoke today on this Motion.   I think it lends itself to the collaboration that needs to take place and has been taking place to address the issue of bullying and violence in school.

Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport. 

3.07 P.M

Then again, who are the parents is a next issue.   Some of them see parents fighting and cursing and they go to school and try to display the same behaviour.  “Charity begins at home and ends abroad”.  We got to revisit all these core values and look at them and ask ourselves, are we setting the right pace at this time?  Are we giving our kids the right values to go out there?  Teachers are now afraid, afraid to even enter their classroom to even speak.  Some of the teachers themselves in terms of how they dress, the appearance in the classroom, is also sending a message.   So we have to always look at all those values and all those things and then sit down now and come up… But we cannot put programmes and plan everything and we do not put the right framework and understand that “Listen, you are in an institution to really build values into young ones.”  Some of these kids going to school are not even too sure who are their parents.  Some of them going to school and not even understanding why they are at school.   School for all. The only way they can meet out and make their presence be felt in the community, is by beating up on one another.  So we now have to revisit how we deal with them.  But I am happy that we have young social workers who could sit with them and understand and as the Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport said, we are working together because this effort cannot be only by Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, it takes all hands on deck to make it happen.  The Assembly, we are pledged to work together as a team.  If you realize even today, the flow, each person took a piece out of other persons and make a whole today, and that is what we continue to do.

     Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, our elderly are at risk, are being bullied for their pension.  They are being bullied because they feel, and the worst situation they are taking the elderly pension but they did not want to care for them.    So they are now leaning on the Department to now come up with Caregivers to pay to take care of them.  I do not know about that in my time.  I am not so old eh!  [Laughter]  We know we are accustom of taking care of our family member, and we go to what we call, “The extended families”, where we are looking out for one another.  As I am speaking about the elderly, with this long festival weekend, please do not abuse the elderly.   Let us take care of them.  Do not leave them alone, because we do that on many occasions, leave them alone lock-up and we rest some food next to their beds.  We have seen it.  So I am urging persons out there, do not leave the elderly unattended.  They need your love because they have sacrificed their love for us to make us who we are today.  We have to remember that.  

     The young ones.  When you are taking the children out, keep your eyes on them.  We are still in the situation of human trafficking, and that is a sign of abuse also and they are going to be bullied to go with the perpetrators, so we have to remember that, we look out for them. 


     Even, we know the consumption of alcohol during this period, at the Department of Social Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Programme (ADAPP) is urging also that you drink in moderation.   If you are drinking, have a designated driver to be with you.  We are sending out all these messages because after you drink and have fun you could be bullied also.  You could be taken advantage of, so we are urging people, think wisely, enjoy yourself, but be safe. 

     So, as you see it is not just in the school, it is in the community and we are seeing now where as my colleague mentioned, women are the ones who are creating the bullying.  If you look on the Facebook Page, you are seeing all of it.  In the school to teachers, women, even we the men are being bullied sometime, but you know because the “machoness” we are not going to talk about it. [Laughter] So we will keep quiet.  We will keep quiet and it is happening right here and we need to open up and speak out.  [Laughter] [Crosstalk] I did not say is me.  So people, let us understand where we are and what we are doing. 


     On Tuesday afternoon, I was invited to a Programme where the Canadian High Commission Fund, a group called, “The Lilies Foundation,” and it was a video presentation that they used the money.  It is where a young girl, her step father at age twelve (12) was molested, and it continue up to age sixteen (16).  After growing up to be a young lady, she then find herself that “Listen, life is all about just doing whatever.”  So she started drinking and eventually she start having multi sexual partners and we know what that will lead to.  It was a nice film that was put on and I commended the Lilies Foundation on Tuesday afternoon for the effort and time and the Canadian High Commission also did.  When you see work like this and even he was saying that he would like to take it now to the Caribbean and show it and as he goes along showing it, and these are issues that we are not talking about.  

     We just had recently, where we had Break the Silent Workshop going on and these are things we need to break and talk about.  Talk about these issues of bullying and violence to not just the young ones, to our elderly and to those persons who cannot help themselves but depend on others to guide them, they are being bullied.  So we need to start talking about issues like those, putting them at the forefront, and let us come up with solutions to most of these problems because it needs to be tackled seriously.  So I urge you as I go along, speak out, talk about it, there is help available. 


     It is good to see some of the workers here, you can talk to, nice young people, but we are still waiting to attract some of the men that we can balance off, but we continue to work. 


    So I take the time now and let me also say on behalf of the persons, the Members of Black Rock, Spring Garden, Mary’s Hill, take the opportunity to wish my dear beloved Secretary Claudia Groome-Duke, happy birthday today! [Desk thumping] I was waiting for this moment Secretary, that is why you did not see me this morning. [Laughter]  I wish her all the best as she continue to age gracefully and the love that we continue to express to you for your hard work and dedication that you continue to strive. [Desk thumping]  

So as I take my seat and I support the Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport because we know it is a challenging time in that area especially Education.  We know sometimes teachers can throw their hands up and walk away, but we are also saying for the community at large in your support, the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and other groups to let us work hand in hand because it is not a matter for one person or one Division, but it is for all of us.  So as we put our hands together and work to ensure that we eradicate some of the violence in our communities and school and even in our churches, let us work together to ensure that it happens.  

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, for the opportunity to participate in this discussion.  Thank you very much [Desk thumping].


Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, let me thank you for this opportunity to lend my voice in this Motion and I think the Secretary of Education have clearly outlined and give some clear statistics in terms of what is happening in terms of bullying and violence.

But it just throw my mind back to Sunday at the Moriah Love Feast when a group of young person sang a song and I reflect and ponder on it:

“Everybody frighten, they running for cover, no respecter for persons, them bandit, them killer, they raping and they looting, them killing yuh dead, dead.  Nobody escape, booyaka bullet in your head.”

That was by Ras Shorty I.  The idea that really came to mind which I find is most relevant and fitting, “we push the Creator out of everything.”  I listened to the song as they sang it and I took up my paper and I start to ask myself, “What society have we now created when we push the creator out?” It leaves us with all the social ills and social problems that we are now facing and it make us wonder what are we doing?   

If we throw our minds back as young people growing up, it was a thing in school that every Monday morning we go to church to have that spiritual devotion before starting the week of activities at school.  I think it was so fitting when I heard that song and I said this have to be the answer to 

our problems.  Because when we look at society today we are seeing all kinds of social issues and problem that plaguing not just our young people - our communities.  We are forced to even go outside and play as we used to.    We are forced to do many things because we are scared of what is going on outside.  But they always tell you, “Charity begins at home and ends abroad.”   So what we are seen happening now is the end result of that same statement – “charity.”

But we must go back to the family, we must understand and ask ourselves, the family is the foundation to all of this because we grew up on morning time worshipping with your family.  We grew up having that love and care and understanding from our parents so that when we enter institutions like the school setting, we already have our core values that we take into that institution.  We have strayed from that point and when we look at what is happening, we ask ourselves, how can we solve all these problems and I always go back - we push the Creator out and we start creating our own images that we want to see and we start doing things the way that we feel but it is clear that there were certain rules and core values that we learnt in growing up and if we revisit some of these values then we can solve many of the problems that we have today.  

As we continue to work together and we continue to look at ideas and we look at all the statistics that the Secretary of Education just placed on the table here a while ago and we ask ourselves, are we really happy of what is going on and how could we change some of these things?  We can sit here and come up with all the programmes and the right framework but without God’s presence we cannot go forth with it.  So, as we continue to work together and we continue to see what is going on around us, we look at the role of the churches, the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) in our community. 

I recall when the Representative for Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden was the only Social Worker in Tobago, working and changing lives and ensuring that people are – I could also say that I am one of the persons when my family had those issues she was there working with us to ensure that things go right with us.   Then we look back and we ask out of that we were 

lobbying with the churches to ensure that social work was done in our community.  So we now need to revisit the community.   

I am so happy to see my staff in the Division of Health and Social Services in particular in Social Services supporting and every now and again I could look at them and get the nod and see, well yes, we are on the right track because we have been doing some programmes. 

We look at the Gender Affairs Unit and in 2014, the Gender Department embarked on a project in collaboration with the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport on an Art Competition to have young people draw the feelings out and put it on paper.  We did it with Standard 1 to 3.  The total of one hundred and twenty (120) entries were received.  They were able to put it on paper and say how they feel, what are some of the things and come up with solutions and they continue to work on the same issue of bullying.  They continue to have these young people put their art into play to talk about this whole bullying issue and they continue earlier this year and we are now going into the communities.  We have our Community 

Social Workers linking with the Gender Affairs Unit and Education visiting homes, talking to parents giving parents and equipping them with a skill that they can now manage and that is what they are doing and we continue to pressure and push forward in order to have these things done.  

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, parents today need to revisit some of the core values.  I recall, when Mommy and Daddy were having a discussion as children we had to go outside.  What you are seeing today, children standing up and they could pick every single word out of our mouths and we the parents are not saying to them, “Go outside.”

Assistant Secretary of Health and Social Services. [Desk thumping]

2.57 P.M

Our focus in the Sports Department has to particular in this economic times need to move away – I would not say move away totally, our focus has to be on programmes now as oppose to the infrastructural projects and facilities.  I think if we have more emphasis on programmes it would definitely lend some assistance in this bullying epidemic not only in Trinidad and Tobago but the world.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, bullying is a major issue with our youths and I have submitted that sports can help.  I do hope that we can all work together to ensure that our young people have a viable future ahead of them.

In closing, we the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) with all of its Divisions should not be tempted to focus solely on the symptoms of bullying but pay equal attention if not more attention to the root causes of bullying.  We have the tendency of just focusing on symptoms because nine (9) out of ten (10) times they are the ones that get the news.  As the Assistant Secretary in the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities mentioned, it is now kind of commonplace to see school girls fighting and it is all plastered all over the media, YouTube etcetera and we want to deal with the actual fight as oppose to trying to focus on the reason why the children were fighting – the girls were fighting and get to that root cause. 

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I want to thank you for allowing me to lend my support to this Motion.

Thank you.  [Desk thumping]

2.47 P.M

I was not exactly the more kind of lightweight, small and the used colloquial term, “dry foot”.  So it was easy for people to take advantage of me.  Thankfully, I had football as a way out, and it endeared me.  I guess, and I formed wonderful relationships/friendships with bigger team members, so that kind of helped me to protect myself from those who were tempted to bully the dry foot, paper man. 


That being said, sport on a whole is engaging enough that children participating do not have much idle time to partake in many unpleasing activities, bullying being one.  The reality is, that we have replaced sports with computer time and book time, so much so that outdoor activities for children are now called as, “play dates” that has to be arranged.  We really have to look at this at a holistic point of view, because we all are to blame.


The Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport outlined a few reasons or causes for bullying which included: 

•The Home Environment; 

•Individual low self-esteem; 

•Being frustrated with a situation; 

•The lack of attention.  

Some of the benefits to have been involved in sports particular at a young age addresses some of these causes.  Sports I know, helps to increase the confidence of a child and when  a child has that confidence embedded in their personality, the chances of them bullying another child is hardly unlikely.  The camaraderie that is formed on the playing field tends to spill that kind of helped me to protect myself from those who were tempted to bully the dry foot, paper man. 


That being said, sport on a whole is engaging enough that children participating do not have much idle time to partake in many unpleasing activities, bullying being one.  The reality is, that we have replaced sports with computer time and book time, so much so that outdoor activities for children are now called as, “play dates” that has to be arranged.  We really have to look at this at a holistic point of view, because we all are to blame.


The Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport outlined a few reasons or causes for bullying which included: 

•The Home Environment; 

•Individual low self-esteem; 

•Being frustrated with a situation; 

•The lack of attention.  

Some of the benefits to have been involved in sports particular at a young age addresses some of these causes.  Sports I know, helps to increase the confidence of a child and when  a child has that confidence embedded in their personality, the chances of them bullying another child is hardly unlikely.  The camaraderie that is formed on the playing field tends to spill this day.  The sense of entitlement is no longer the norm, where the norm  becomes to work hard and you will reap your just rewards, as opposed to my daddy, my mummy so, and I know so and so, therefore  I do not need to do so and so.  I digress.  Greater family attachment, more frequent interaction with parents are needed.  

Many athletes depend for the support from the family to fuel their ambitions.  Sport teaches communication which is often lacking when it comes to teenagers.  Youth who plays sport, tend to have a better relationship with their parents, their peers, and those in authority, improved family interactions translate to a better child.  Sport provides the opportunities for youths to engage in valuable and positive relationships which is especially important when such benefits are not available at home, thus it is a missed opportunity for children who are not included in sports during their early ages of childhood because they are less well behaved than other children.  These children are being prevented by participating in the very thing that could help them learn control and regulate their behaviour. Sport provides an opportunity or avenue to release what you called, “pent up energy”.  It also provides an opportunity for children to safely navigate and negotiate between right and wrong as they learn to interact with peers and adults.

Within the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, particularly the Sports Department, some of the initiatives and programmes that we have help to reduce the tendency for children to be bullies.  We have our Sports Camp during the summer.  It provides an opportunity for children to interact, children who may be shy, somewhat reserved, but the same shy child, is another shy child, three, four children, they all come out of their shells.     I have seen it in the Sport Camp where they started off being shy and then within the first few days, the first week, you want to know if it is a different child altogether, because they have been interacting with children in their own - that display the same characteristics. 

One of the targets, I guess anybody who is deemed or perceive to be different is fair game to be bullied.  That including children who may be obese.  Sports physical activities from a healthy standpoint, is good for the child.  It would also help to get them away from that obese status where they could be I guess more normal as the rest of their peers.  The coaches that we have in the Sports Department in their interactions with children at school, impart these programmes into the children, the need for team work, collaboration, cooperation, our assistance to various sporting organizations and groups which is much needed particularly in the communities, again providing the environment for camaraderie and friendship among children, again reducing that need for the bullies to think to take advantage of other  weaker individuals.  Also, the assistance that we provide to the Coaching Workshops and Symposiums for coaches, administrators to ensure that the programmes within the various sporting groups and organizations, the individuals are equipped to deal with these issues that is plaguing us today. 

Thank you Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer for  allowing me the opportunity to lend my support to this 

timely Motion  involving all various definitions of bullying.  Most of us can recall an experience of bullying whether it be on the giving or receiving end.  We also have our own definition of bullying but like many other things bullying has evolved over time.  Once upon a time is more harassment or provoking me.  Now, I know growing up in school the term bullying was – I do not think I have ever heard the term, “bullying”.  I have heard provoking, harassing but the term bullying was not really used back then, now it seems to be very common place now.  Back then, what use to be was common banter and play among children has now turned into a violent media ridden and driven Reality Show type event. 

According to the Australian Sport Commission.  “In a Sport context, bullying can take many forms.”  For example, a parent telling their child that  they are incompetent, hopeless or useless.  A coach alienating an athlete.  Several team Members ganging upon one individual team member.  Spectators verbally abusing and in some cases, physically abusing players. Most cases on the opposition side but there were one or two occasions when supporters turn on their own players because they did not step up to the plate in their mind.  An athlete calling a referee names and using put downs.  A  parent intimidating a young coach.  

In the business arena, some examples of bullying include:

• Manipulation and intimidation;

• Making the employee feel less important and undervalue;

• Performing abusive and offensive acts in front or behind their backs;

• Unreasonable criticisms which is not part of the management performance process;

• Refusing to delegate or withholding information the employee needs to perform duties.

• Accusations regarding lack of effort destructive innuendoes and sarcasm.

•Prevented access to opportunities physical and social isolation.

•Undue pressure and setting impossible deadlines.

•Failure to acknowledge good work and destabilizing undermining behaviours.

•The allocation of meaningless task or removal of responsibility.

As we could see, these behaviours go from the playing field even into

the workplace.

Everybody knows my somewhat love affair for football and I must admit that as a youngster coming have it not been for football I think I would have been a victim of more bullying I would say.  Primary School, early years of high school I used to carry a name called, “Paper” short for “Paperman.”

Assistant Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport.  [Desk thumping]

2.37 P.M

Sexual harassment comes in all forms.  

Recently, I heard of a story on 98.1 – a teacher was reporting that a young girl in a community in Trinidad was constantly harassed by a neighbour.  Every time she would pass, he would say to her, “I will rape you one of these days.”  Harassment!

There are men practicing different types of harassment, tactics and strategies even on the workplace.  Not just men, let me hasten to say, because we have female bullies as well.   Remember I said that.  But there must be some kind of consciousness where I will need to applaud the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport for taking the initiative and for bringing this Motion to this House.  It shows that we are interested in development of our people – not just physical development - infrastructural development but the development of the whole man “from the cradle to the grave” if you will.

How do we talk to these except we get into the consciences of people so that they begin to think about their moral responsibility?  Except bullying is marked as immoral, sinful, and therefore, should not be tolerated, it becomes difficult for persons to see their actions as wicked.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, if I were to pontificate a little bit I would need to remind people that there is a God who is watching the bullied.  There is somebody watching and is taking record and so we need to be careful.

I am reminded of a scripture in 2nd Kings Chapter 2: 23,24 about a Prophet Elisha.   He was bullied, nobody touched him, he was spoken against ill by some children – young people.   They mocked him, he was going up a mountainside and they mocked him – “Go up thou bald head.”  His head looked like Jomo Pitt’s head – the Honourable Member for Lambeau/Signal Hill.  A bald head man, they mocked him dissing his ball head.  It is interesting to me that we have become so careless that these stories mean nothing to us.  The man of God was so - he had righteous indignation so the next thing that happened is that he cursed them and forty something of them were destroyed by sheep bears.   Interesting!  I am talking to the religious nation.  God is not happy with some of the things that we practice and has become the norm.  It is the truth and somebody has to say it and why not me.

In this modern time, when the rest of the world is suffering from this same - this is now an epidemic if not pandemic in some sense.  

We are here in Tobago, we are in the Tobago House of Assembly saying, we are standing up against bullying, against violence against women, violence against our children, violence against our men and our citizens on a whole.  We are stamping it out in our schools.  We are standing up against it in our workplaces.

I had a line that I kind of drew my pen across now that I in a little while, we will understand what political bullying is all about as well.  We have to stamp it out all around.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, to run this risk of repeating myself too often, I just want to really ask that our churches, our pastors, our teachers, our religious leaders will join in this fight to join this Tobago House of Assembly in reminding again, our people  about brotherly love and brotherly kindness.  Let us identify the persons in our communities with love.  Even the bullies need love.  The Scientists are telling us – most of them need love.  It is the reason why they are acting out.  Let us join together to identify them so that we can help them.  Some are females, some are males, some are just children.  Let’s bring them in, let’s together work with them so that we can help to stamp out violence in our community as we work towards a better Tobago.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, with these few words, I thank you.  [Desk thumping]

2.27 P.M

Thank you very much Mr. Presiding Officer, for the opportunity to lend my voice to this very timely Motion - the issue of bullying.  It would be evident from the presentation of the Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport that we have been surfing the one World Wide Web, and therefore, our information will collide in this room at some point, but we are left with a few pockets that we can work with, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, so I will attempt to rub out some of the things that were already mentioned.

Let me just reiterate, that Wikipedia suggest that the use of force, threats or cohesion, to dominate, abuse, intimidate others, is bullying.  So the use of cohesion, threat, to dominate, abuse, intimidate so that we can have single bullying or we can have a group of bullies, gang type activity that would cause  issues in a school, in a community and in a workplace.   It dawned on me when I looked at bullying in depth that it is more than just a school matter, it does not just involve children, but according to the research and statistics, it is an entire community issue.  We have children learning this art of bullying from the kind of ills that they would see as they grow up in their homes, we have them being able to mimic these activities at school.  So, what we have is a bully father or mother who would have groomed a bullied son or daughter and send them off to school.  So, this is not just a school problem.  So we have to look.  There are different types of bullying and it was interesting that while it is commonly understood that bullies are males, it was interesting for me to see that when they identified bullies and there are different types that there is an identification for female bullies.  If you have been privileged to see some of the privilege, (I do not know if privilege is a good word) but if you happen to witness the majority of bullying that happens on the Web, you would see on Facebook and YouTube  etcetera, you would mostly see videos posted of females involved in this activity.  It is a growing trend.  There are so many discussions out there as to why this is so.   But we are looking at not so much the fact that there is bullying out there, but we are looking now for solutions.  We have to find solutions.   Some bullies I am told are borne out of a place of harassment.  So, there is a student from a nice quiet family comes to school, and he/she is harassed by children who are bullies and what we find happening, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, is that these children themselves become bullies.

In one research I looked at from one of the British sites, (I left that piece of paper unfortunately); it was taught that these become the most violent in the school. They are the ones that will react with physical violence, they become physical bullies. 


When I looked at our local space and I considered the statistics rendered by the Secretary of Education Youth Affairs and Sport, thirty-six (36%) is an alarming amount.  So, I started looking at some of the side effects or ill effects of bullying and we looked at depression, as being one of them, anxiety, increased feeling of sadness and loneliness and when we looked at what these would ultimately bring on, it is clear that any environment where bullying is tolerated will suffer serious decline in productivity.    The children will therefore become what you called, “less productive”, they would be left behind in some instances, they are the ones that you have to coheres all the time to come up, these are the children who has all the potential and suddenly they cannot produce and you are wondering why because somebody somewhere is giving them a hard time.


So, I want us to consider that there might be some things that we have to talk about in our Tobago space.  Because we have bullying happening not just at school as I said before, but it happens in the workplace as well.  We have bullying bosses; we have people who harass other people.  When I looked at the type of definitions that were given for bullying, people in the workplace, things are hidden from them, they are not able to perform their jobs in the manner that they should because somebody wants to marginalize or sideline them, you know that kind of thing.  So we have that kind of general thing that is propagated in the community.  So while we are looking at school bullying, in the research I thought that we need to look at the thing in a bigger picture, because in a sense bullying is me with the power muscling somebody else out of the way or into a corner.  That needs to be considered.   When this comes to the workplace, what we find, is that while children are bullied for how they look and how they speak etcetera, in the workplace we find that people will be bullied for how they act, for being productive, for being ethically and morally sound, for speaking up for justice or speaking against injustice, and people become marginalized for that.  So we are looking at bullying in the broad sense.  So, if we are going to stamp out bullying in Tobago, in our schools, we also have to talk to our adults, because this we are realizing is a learned behaviour.  

Interestingly, I just said that we need to talk to our adults, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, it dawned on me that in Tobago, we are predominantly a religious island.  Almost everybody in Tobago goes to some kind of synagogue, church or gathering.  True!  Most of us, grew up with some kind 

of scriptural or Koran or some kind of religious book as a guide.  But the temptation, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, is to kind of pontificate a little bit, I do not want to do that, less I sound to preachy.  The truth is, that the story about bullying, becomes a spiritual matter. We are addressing a matter of personalities that is far become generate because of spiritual decline, if you understand what I am trying to say. I hope that I try not to sound too preachy, preachy here.  

We grow up hearing, “Love thy neighbour.”  Recently, the Member for Buccoo/Mt.Pleasant had a nice drive on the theme, “Love thy neighbour”.  The issue of bullying will involve a retraining of the mind of our young people and our adults to begin again to love their neighbour, because it is only a heart void of love that becomes so callous that you can just be bullying other people for no reason.  You understand the point that Iam making, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer.  So to me the call for today is to call is to remind our people, our society about Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you have them do unto you”.  Remember that law?    We used to call, “The golden Rule?”  It is still being called that.  Do not do anything to anybody that you would not like done unto you.  It is interesting.  So somebody is performing their work and you are probably jealous of their performance, the thing to do is not to hide the tools or to try to make stories on them to cause them to look terrible in the public eye.  The thing to do is to mimic their ethics so that you too will grow.   So I thought that part of the solution would definitely include partnership with the Churches in our communities.  The programmes of the churches must be sculptured so that it would encapsulates the need of our young, first of all, and those of us who are seniors or grown ones who have mimic this terrible pattern, so that we can have help, not just emotional help but spiritual help as I said before because ultimately, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, the generation and it is caused by sin.  

When we looked at bullying one of the things that was not yet mentioned, and I have the opportunity to talk about it, is sexual harassment.

2.17 P.M

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, we were of course, as part of those support programmes we would also have our School Psychological and Therapeutic Services which is done not only through our Student Support Unit and our Educational Psychologist but it is also done in conjunction with the Division of Health and Social Services and that Unit for Children and Adolescence  Clinic which does the analysis and the assessment on the job.

I really want to thank the Secretary and Assistant Secretary in the Division of Health and Social Services for their assistance in terms of that programme.  The Psychologist in that Unit and the Social Worker are doing a fantastic job in providing the necessary additional support for the work we do at Student Support.

We of course, provide support through our Opportunity Department of which, Mr. Pitt will speak about the Street Outreach Programmes through the Police Youth Clubs.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I want to speak or just maybe give a little more details on other strategies that we would want to resolve.   Of course, one of them has to do with our teachers and training of the teachers.  While we have recognized that in years gone by a teacher would have taken on all of those roles of delivering the curriculum, Mentor, Councillor, Psychologist and Therapist.  

I think because of the complexities of the issues, that exist within the school and of course, the kind of individuals that are coming to schools now and the support that is necessary, there was a need to strengthen and create Units with those Student Support Units and staff with those Specialist but because our teachers are the first primary contact there is still a need to I really want to thank the Secretary and Assistant Secretary in the Division of Health and Social Services for their assistance in terms of that programme.  The Psychologist in that Unit and the Social Worker are doing a fantastic job in providing the necessary additional support for the work we do at Student Support.

We of course, provide support through our Opportunity Department of which, Mr. Pitt will speak about the Street Outreach Programmes through the Police Youth Clubs.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I want to speak or just maybe give a little more details on other strategies that we would want to resolve.   Of course, one of them has to do with our teachers and training of the teachers.  While we have recognized that in years gone by a teacher would have taken on all of those roles of delivering the curriculum, Mentor, Councillor, Psychologist and Therapist.  

I think because of the complexities of the issues, that exist within the school and of course, the kind of individuals that are coming to schools now and the support that is necessary, there was a need to strengthen and create Units with those Student Support Units and staff with those Specialist but because our teachers are the first primary contact there is still a need to at the various secondary schools across the island to ensure that we can assist in the management in schools and reducing incidences of bullying and violence.

We have also began a process of placing at some of the schools that we believe are larger or the particular incidences have happened at the larger Primary schools, we have installed cameras and we have begun rolling that out on a phased basis so that over the coming months in this current fiscal year we will see more of our primary schools being installed with CCTV cameras. 

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, what we have recognized as a Division is that this (and I think I am not going to share it throughout our presentation) issue is a global issue.  We have seen recently in schools here in Trinidad and Tobago an upsurge in violence.  We still – a lot of our violence might and our incidences still might be related to knives and glasses.  We have seen some gun and an increase in the level of gun violence.  

We have seen in schools in the United Kingdom, schools in the United States of America (US) in particular, school shooting is a major, major issue.   So that violence within the school environment is a tremendous issue.  When you delve into the analysis, the shootings that take place in those schools in the United States, you see a correlation between the person – the perpetrator involved and some level of bullying, issues of self-esteem, issues of hate and those kinds of things.   So either that their reaction, the reasons they acted out in this violent way is because they felt bullied and they felt that that is the only way they could respond or vice versa that sometimes they feel that this is the way of getting the attention of the powers that be.  So we have seen the incidences increasing and the concerns for this increase is widespread right across the society.   I think the media people are concerned that our schools are no longer as safe as we feel that should be. 

Therefore, Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, this Division has adopted strategies both within the school compound if you have also seen the definition that some of these incidences can happen on the way to school, away from school, it can happen at school related events.  It says that our strategies has to be beyond that.  

Cyber bullying is new now.  A long time ago if you had somebody who used to harass you in school, they might write up your name on the toilet door, you might get something on you back.  But when you leave school, when you get home that was the end of it, you ain’t seeing them until the next day.  What social media has done has allowed this person to stay present in your life for the longest while and therefore, continually keep a  barrage on.    Therefore, we have been involved in a number of stakeholders in the media industry to have programmes that treat with bullying on the media and in the proof.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I know that there are other people who would like to get into this discussion.  I therefore, would want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this Motion standing in my name and therefore, look forward to the contributions of my colleagues from around the floor as we go forward.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I thank you.  [Desk thumping]

Question proposed.

2.07 P.M

So we would of course work in conjunction with the School Management with the appointment of Deans of Disciplines.  We have strengthened the School based Management teams in our Schools.  Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer,  so we have to set up a Management team in the Schools that would comprise the Principal, the Vice Principal, Representatives of the Parent’s Teachers Association (PTA), the Student’s Council, the Heads of Department and Deans of Disciplines with a view to managing those issues within the schools and ensuring what may be determined as issues warranting their attention are treated in an effective manner and whether it would be handled within the school or referred to externally.  

We have also recognized and put in place aggressive programmes to treat with ensuring that it offers a balance programme to ensure that our students are occupied in terms of academic co-curricular and extracurricular activities.  All with a view to ensure that there is of course some evidence that if students that are left to their own devices are not supervised, very often might find themselves getting into bullying and into situation that might lead to bullying and violence.  Therefore, we recognized that there is an important way in treating with that to ensure that your students are occupied consistently.  We also recognized that some of those co-curricular and extracurricular activities help to treat with issues of aggression, helps to build discipline, build teamwork, promote competition and therefore, allow persons through competitions to develop better social interaction with fellow students and address issues of indiscipline – aggression which may become negative social behaviour that they may have not garnered through their own upbringing, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer. 

Of course, through HFLE Programme  (Health and Real Life Education Programme), programmes like Life at the Cross Roads through other organizations, the curriculum within those programmes seeks specifically to address building a number of areas like self-esteem, values clarification, loving oneself and those kinds of things. What we recognized first to begin with, is that persons must be comfortable with themselves.  There is a song that we used to teach in Camp, “I love myself so much, so that I can love you so much, so that you can love me so much”, and is essentially the hallmark  of what the curriculum in most of those programmes as it relates to self-esteem does.  It is an attempt to ensure that you build the persons and they become comfortable in their own skin and therefore, then they become comfortable in how they treat with others.  Therefore, once you are comfortable with them, you will not become so easily dissuaded by the person’s remark how short you are, or how tall you are not.  You would have recognized that you are uniquely (I do not want to tread on my friend Mr. Beckles who I am sure going to speak on a couple things), but you are uniquely made.  Therefore, there is no one better than you.  Once you understand that, then no one can bully you to making you feel uncomfortable about yourself and how you look.

We also recognized that a critical issue in those programmes that we talked to, is those Character Based Programmes also values clarification and decision making, and helping people to understand to be able to access how they can approach addressing making a decision when an issue present itself.  Whether this issue is about “I come into the class and I see a wallet on the ground.  Should I take the money or go away?  Why should I not take the money”, or make a decision in terms on how persons as it relate to bullying a friend or if I see bullying taking place.  How do I respond to that?  Do I stand-up for my friend, or do I slip away?  Or do I pull out my cellphone and say, “hit him, hit him and tape it” - so all of those things are taught through our Values Programmes.  

Some of the skills that also are taught include: 

•Conflict Management; 

•Communication Skills; 

•Emotional Intelligence; 

•Problem Solving; and 

•Anger Management Skills.  

This one is to promote behaviour modification and I am positive.  So, that essentially the goal of these programmes is to ensure that we empower the student to begin to modify their behaviour, thus creating positive change, strengthening their relationship with teachers, parents and society on a whole.  It is hoped that by doing this: 

•It will reduce the level of bullying and fighting among students;

•It will develop strategies among the students to deal with stress out of those things that causes them to act up or act negatively;


•It will decrease conflicts in schools and among peers; 

•It will help them to understand their anger and what are the things that makes them angry and how do they manage that; 

•It will support students in rebuilding self-esteem.  

Of course, another programme that we would have done is the Revival of our Students Council at our Secondary Schools.  This strategy also goes hand in hand with our Peer Court Programme that we are doing in conjunction with the Judiciary.  The intention of the Students Council and the Peer Court Programme, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, is with a view to allowing the students to have the opportunity to speak out in a positive structured manner on issues that affect them and therefore, not resort to negative graffiti on the wall, giving trouble in class when they feel that issues and decisions being made that impact on the student body and they have had no say in it.  So we have recognized the importance of the Students Councils in the management of the school and in reducing those kinds of issues.  But beyond that, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, the Peer Court Programme will help to take us a step further.  Because what then happens a number of clearly defined matters or incidences within the school, minor incidences that comes up within the school, the Peer Court Programme sees student themselves sitting and presiding on these matters.  So, they have a student as the Judge, you have peer advocates, you have a student who will be speaking for the matter, and then you have a student who will be speaking on behalf of the accused, and they have a trial of thought.  At the end of this trial, the student verdict is found and the student may be asked to make some restitution for the matter.  Whether it is to paint over the wall they wrote on, write back the persons notes who they tore up, those kinds of things, may be do some community service within the school for a certain period of time, and we believe, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, that this strategy will help to allow our students to be more involved in the management of their own behaviours through of course, the process of speaking out on it and why it is affecting them, but more importantly, in them identifying penalties for their own behaviour.  So they become guardians of their own behaviour.


We have also targeted a number of Parenting in Education Workshops and this is really geared towards in improving the family relations and lowering the risk of violence by children.  These programmes essentially will provide parents with education on tips about child development and teach skills to communicate and solve problems in non-violent ways.  

The objectives will include:

•Greater self awareness among parents in knowing that effective parenting starts with their individual actions and commitment to propel change;  

•It will reduce disruptive behaviours among students in schools, have parents become more informed empowered and educated about the role that they should play in regards to their children;

•To become aware of the support services that are available whether it is within the Division or within other Divisions or from within the other Institutions; and 

•To increase the academic success rate within the schools as parents of course play a greater role in providing the necessary academic support for their students. 

1.57 P.M

Sixteen percent (16%) said that someone had posted embarrassing photos of themselves on line.

In an American Development Paper called, “Bullying Victimization Profile in the Caribbean,” the countries that were deemed in this report as where bullying appeared to be the most prevalent was Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana with lower levels reported in St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Suriname and St. Vincent.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, let me now move to violence in our schools and some issues of violent behaviour.  School violence according to the Centre for Disease Control is: 

•A subset of Youth Violence;

•It is a broader Public Health problem;

•Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power against another person, group or community with a behaviour likely to cause physical or psychological harm.

•Youth violence typically includes persons between the ages of ten (10) and twenty-four (24);

•Although they have indicated from their findings that pathways to youth violence can begin in early childhood.

From a study done by they have identified a number of factors that lead to violent behaviour among children at school age and they feel it can be linked to the following:

(1)Stress and depression - if a child is overstressed or depressed then there are higher possibilities of him/her becoming violent and then showcasing it in school.

(2)Environment at the home – if a kid fails or a child fails to get an enriching or a good environment in the home then there is a tendency for him/her becoming very violent very soon.   If he commonly views his parents beating, fighting, using abusive language etcetera, he imitates the same at play or in school.

(3)Anxiety – there is great possibilities that an individual may get violent due to high anxiety levels.  Many a times it is seen that 

the young mind is overstressed continuously, maybe because of studies, career, aspirations, examinations etcetera.  This of course, increases the chances of him/her becoming violent.

(4)Easy access or availabilities of weapons – in this century, the children can more easily access weapons in an illegal manner. They can make an effort to purchase through wrong ways and then utilize the same in the schools just to gain some name or fame.

(5)Effect of the Media – According to the study they believe this is the highest cause of generating negative attitudes amongchildren.  Children observe a lot of violence on Television and then they try to depict it in their real life.  There are TV Programmes and movies that show violence scenes such as usage of weapons like knives or guns openly in the public.  They observe and hence learn the same.

(6)No counselling at home – or mentoring at home.  If the child does not have proper counseling affection and love then he can also lead to developing violent tendencies.

(7)Effects of peers – a child tends to get violent if he is having a peer group where all of his friends are violent.  If his friends demonstrate violent behaviour and language they imitate and learn the same quite easily without much efforts.

(8)Lack of guidance in their difficult time – If the child does not receive proper guidance and support at the time when he needs it most, then there is a tendency or a discernibly to become violent.  They cannot resolve their own problems and this makes them highly irritated.

(9)Examples of violent behaviours include bullying (spoke about that before) fighting, weapon use, electronic aggression or gang violence.

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, for the context of school violence, school violence is deemed to occur when it happens on the school property; when it happens on the way to or from school; when it happens during a school sponsored event or on the way to or from a school sponsored event.  So while we are waiting by the Bus Terminus or while we are hanging out by the Library as happens very frequently now, waiting on transportation that can also be defined as school violence or if it happens at Zonal Champs, Intercol again, that can be seen as school violence.

A number of factors can increase the risk of youth engaging in violence at school.  However, the presence of these factors does not always mean that a young person will become affected or become an offender.  Other additional risks include prior history of violence, association with delinquent peers, drug, alcohol or tobacco use.

I would now move to some of the strategies as a Division that we have sought to utilize over the years to address this matter of bullying and also to treat with the issue of school, violence and safety in schools. 

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, some of our strategies that we have adopted to address bullying and school violence include firstly:

•The employment of School Safety Officers at all our Secondary Schools.

This was of course, as part of a national programme that we would have employed and trained these individuals to ensure that they assist the school administration and teachers in managing the behaviours, assessing and curtailing instances of violence at the school level. 

We would have of course, through our Security Companies:   

•Improved the levels of Security Officers at our Primary and Secondary Schools;

We would have:

•Improved our fencing and established our fencing at our various schools in particular our secondary schools.

•We would have strengthened our students support services and this through the additional staff including Guidance Councillors, Guidance Officers, Schools Social Workers and Educational Psychologist.

 Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, the existing structures that we have is that a Guidance Officer and a School Social Worker is attached to every school and they would have treated with matters within that existing secondary school so that within the secondary school, we have a Social Worker and a Guidance Officer attached who would work along with the school in managing the issues that maybe addressed.  Issues that may not may warrant either because of the severity or because of the complexity required additional support are very often either referred back to the Division - to the Educational Psychologist or sometimes referred to other Specialist outside of the Division who will then provide the necessary support.

Of course, we also work in conjunction with the Children’s Authority.  We also work in conjunction and I know, Mr. Cunningham the Assistant Secretary will speak on that.  

  We also work in conjunction with the Community Social Workers to provide support for children and family services at the Probation Unit, all with a view and of course - the Probation Officers, all with a view of providing that structured integrated strategy as they referred to case management.  I think is the term, Mrs. Groome-Duke as a former Director of Social Welfare is the proper term they used in terms of managing the case is what happens.

       Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, at the primary school level, we have put our primary schools in clusters and assigned a number of Social Workers to each cluster so one Social Worker would probably have about maybe six (6) or seven (7) primary schools in a particular geographic space that will work with and treat with the matters within those schools.  Now that would already of course had to do with the number of primary schools that we have but also because the issues that relate would require that the Social Worker could have less interface on an individual school because of the smaller populations and therefore that’s the number but we recognized at the secondary school level there was a need to ensure that you had a Social Worker and that kind of Specialist assigned to the school on a permanent basis.

We would have of course ensured that we continue the implementation of Deans of Disciplines discussed those senior teachers.  I think all of us, I am sure (let me not say all of us eh, let me speak for myself) [Laughter] most of us would have had a run in or two with a Dean of Discipline that we will keep firmly in our minds long after we left that institution whoever he/she in those days, it was most likely would often be a he, for those of us, he would be but I am sure that most of us might be the better from those experiences.

1.47 P.M

     Being threatened or being forced to do things by other students, and bullying through lies and false rumours.  

     Now, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, the Motion spoke to the complex factors involving both victims and perpetrators and I would want to speak to some of the characteristics that may define a bully in a short time.  


     Some of the things that bullies target or some of the areas that people are usually bullied about, include: 

  • Ethnic or racial compositions; 

  • Physical built or features of appearance that is unique or different; 

  • Social or economic status; 

  • Physical inabilities and disabilities; 

  • Mental or scholastic abilities; 

  • Speech quality or tone; 

  • Sexual orientation or sexual activity; 

  • Moral or religious beliefs.  

Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer and Colleagues, I think people would be aware of the trends now and even in your days of going to school whether it was before we became a Republic or if it is after we became a Republic, you know it will depend on your context.  You know people are teasing you because you are short, you too dark, your head curly, it is not straight enough, where you live; they used to say how bright you are.  They used to say, “Whe School you go to, Buccoo School?”  Because as you know, Buccoo did not have a school, so it means that you did not know anything. If you are from a particular community they target you, all those kind of things.  If you come to school bear feet with oil or coconut grease and they are coming with shoes, all kinds of things had been the source.  It has now changed now, of course to include sexual orientation or perceive sexual orientation; you know person’s physical disabilities or inabilities are also included. 

Bullying as I said before, is one type of youth violence that threatens people wellbeing.  It can result in physical injuries, social and emotional difficulties and academic problems.  The harmful effects of bullying are frequently felt by others, including friends and families and can of course hurt and impact on the overall  health and safety and of our neighbourhoods and of schools and of course the wider society.

Under Verbal bullying, some of the things that can be targeted include:

•Name calling; 



•Spreading rumours; 

•Threatening or making negative reference to one’s culture, ethnicity; race; religion; gender;

As I said before, 

•Sexual orientation, or even unwanted sexual comments.  

You also have social bullying which speaks to: 



•Excluding others from the group; 

•Humiliating others with public gestures or graffiti and tended to put them down or to embarrass.   

Physical bullying includes: 







•Destroying or stealing belongings; 

•Unwanted sexual touching or contact.

Cyber bullying which is of course a recent one: 

•Using the Internet or text messaging to intimidate; to put down; spread rumours or make fun of someone - all or some of the challenges that we have had with bullying.

Let me move now to some of the statistics related to bullying.  The numbers suggests and they might be some degree of under reporting, generally there is, but in our context, we feel that there is still a degree of under reporting and we feel that is related to some people still feeling that it is a certain level of teasing, is alright and you know you have to get a little hazing that is acceptable. 

 But at the Secondary School level, over the period 2013 – 2015, we had a total of forty (40) reported cases of bullying: 

•In 2013, ten (10) cases were reported; 

•In 2014, thirteen (13) cases were reported; 

•In 2015, we saw seventeen (17) reported cases.  

The majority of the cases reported spoke to physical bullying.  

At the Primary School level, study that was undertaken here in Tobago, where we utilize a random representative sample of our Primary School students to capture information on the extent that the situation is at the primary school level: 

In 2015 – five percent (5%) of the students reported being constantly bullied; while four percent (4%) reported being bullied fairly frequently; and twenty-seven percent (27%) of the students reported that they had been bullied at some time in the past.   Bringing a total of thirty-six percent (36%) of our students who had experienced some form of bullying.

Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, if we compare that to circumstances in other jurisdictions, in the United Kingdom - on a survey done:

Fifty percent (50%) indicated that they would have been involved in bullying; themselves and at least once a week; Thirty percent (30%) indicated that they would have done it once a week; Sixty-nine percent (69%) of young persons indicated they witnessed someone else bullied and forty-three percent (43%) of those same sixty-nine percent (69%) indicated that they saw this happening at least once a week;  Fourteen percent (14%) of the persons who responded reported being bullied for personal appearance, and of that fourteen percent (14%), six percent (6%) reported it was either for their body shape size or weight.  Of the fifty-five percent (55%) reported bullying, ninety-two percent (92%) said that they reported it to the teacher; eighty-six percent (86%) to the family member, and of those two percentages, less than fifty percent (50%) indicated that they were satisfied with the outcome of that report that they made.  To those who reported it to a family member, eighty-two percent (82%) of them indicated that they were satisfied with how the matter was dealt with; sixty-nine percent (69%) of them reported the matter to a friend, and seventy-two percent (72%) indicated that they were satisfied with how the matter was treated with. 

Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, in Canada

Sixty-four percent (64%) of the students in schools indicated that they had been bullied; twelve percent (12%) indicated at least once a week; of those surveyed, thirty-two percent (32%) admitted being bullies themselves and bullying regularly; sixty-four percent (64%) (and this is an interesting one) of the students who were surveyed indicated that they considered bullying a normal part of school life;  twenty percent to fifty percent (20% – 50%) said that bullying can be a good thing, it makes people tougher, it is a good way to solve problems; twenty-five percent to thirty-three percent (25% – 33%) said that bullying is okay sometimes and that it is okay to pick on losers; sixty-one percent to eighty percent (61% – 80%) said that bullies are often popular and enjoys high status among their peers.  Therefore, that might be a correlation between why they feel that bullying was a good thing because they equated that with being popular and social status.  Twenty-five percent (25%) of the kids indicated that they had witness online bullying or cyber bullying; fifty-one percent (51%) of the  teenagers indicated that they have had negative experiences with the social media and themselves were bullied on line.  


Thank you, Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer.   I am thankful for the opportunity to stand here to speak on a Motion in my name:

WHEREAS incidents of bullying and violence in schools have reached unacceptable proportions; 

AND WHEREAS, varied and complex factors, involving both victims and perpetrators, are responsible for such behaviours;

       AND WHEREAS, the incidents of bullying and violence in schools are indicative of the environment in the wider society where many of our women and children are under continuous threat;

AND WHEREAS, the Tobago House of Assembly has a responsibility to lead the struggle and to collaborate with other agencies, groups, institutions and individuals in addressing the challenges and improving the environment;

BE IT RESOLVED that this House support the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, other Divisions of the Assembly, and other groups, institutions and individuals in their efforts to treat with the issues of bullying and violence in schools, and to curb violence against women and children in the wider society;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House urge the entire Tobago community to collaborate in the protection of our women and children, inside and outside of the school environment.”

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I think it is no strange coincidence the timing of this Motion.  I think we recognize now in the wider society that there has been serious concern by the levels of or the incidences of violence and bullying that are affecting our schools, disrupting our school lives, impacting on the ability of our students to learn, our teachers to perform and to our principals to manage.

     Therefore, this Motion today, is to highlight, speak to this issue, but of course, speak more importantly to the strategies that the Tobago House of Assembly across the varying Divisions have adopted and therefore, get involved the wider community in addressing this challenge that we have now within our school environment. 

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, I think as the Motion says is that, “our schools are a microcosm of a wider society” and therefore, very often the issues and the values that pervade the wider society will influence and will impact on our students and our schools because the schools are of course, a community of itself and they therefore, are made up of individuals who come from varying communities who have different values and therefore coming into this environment.   They come into this institution with different 

values, different perspectives, different levels as we say in long time parlance –  “broughtupsy.”  

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, let me begin firstly with some definitions in terms of bullying:  

  • The United States (US) Website defines bullying simply as, “Unwanted aggressive behaviour among school age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”  The behaviour is repeated or has the potential to be repeated overtime.

Another definition by the American College of Pediatricians suggests:

“Bullying is a systematic repeated or recurrent conduct committed by a student or group of students against another student that causes measurable, physical harm or emotional distress, verbal expression whether oral written or electronic is included within the definition of bullying.  Only to the extent that one such 

expression is elude, indecent obscene, advocating for illegal conduct, intended to incite an immediate breach of the peace or the severe and pervasive use of threatening words that inflict injury; or

School Administrators or officials reasonably believe that such expression will cause an actual material disruption of school work.”

Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, therefore, in order for a behaviour to be 

classified as bullying, it must be aggressive and it must include an imbalance of power that is, children who bully use their power such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information or popularity to control or harm others.

Power imbalances can change overtime and in different situations involve even the same people.  It must involve as I said before, Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, repetition – that is the bullying behaviour happens more than once or has the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes such actions as: 

  • Making threats; 

  • Spreading rumours; 

  • Attacking someone physically or verbally; and 

  • Excluding someone from a group on purpose.

    Mr. Dep. Presiding Officer, some forms of bullying includes physical

such as:      

  • Hitting; 

  • Pushing; 

  • Kicking or spitting. 

Verbal - such as: 

Negative – name calling; 

Derogatory comments; or 


  • Social – such as: 

  • Deliberate; 

  • Isolation or exclusion.  

Written – such as: 

  • Handwritten notes; or 

  • Electronic messages;

  • Cyber or electronic displays via cellphones and the internet such as:

-Texting or posting pictures with negative messages on  

public websites;

  • Having money or other things taken or damaged - otherwise known as tax or taxing;

Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport. [Desk thumping]

42 nd Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2013 - 2017 Session


24 March 2016
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