The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Lynsley Doodhai said there will be serious consequences for those who continue to ignore school policies on bullying.
“Of course, we frown on any incident of bullying that takes place in the nation’s schools,” he said
Doodhai said the Ministry of Education had very clear protocols for the safety and security of students and anti-bullying initiatives have been introduced.
However, he admitted: “Bullying has been taking place in our schools for a very long time. It is now being brought more to the forefront with the advent of social media and the fact that students now have camera phones, so everything is being filmed and posted online.”
Doodhai added that there had been a subtle shift in bullying incidents which used to involve only students but now includes bullying of teachers and cyber-bullying.
Meanwhile, head of the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) Raffiena Ali Boodoosingh admitted that the subject is a source of worry for her organisation even as she urged caution in ascribing blame.
“When students complain and even if it is a teacher bullying a student, school officials must take action immediately to resolve the situation,” she said, adding that teachers are not always right and principals have a role to play.
“At the NPTA level, we empower our parents. We can only hope that they talk to their children and instill in them, good values, ethics and discipline,” she said.
She denounced acts of bullying and stressed: “We do no condone any such acts.”
Ali Boodoosingh, a former principal who taught for 41 years, said teachers are sometimes found to be encouraging bullying in the classroom. She gave the example of a student at a prestige school who threatened to commit suicide when his classmates turned on him after a teacher told the class he was lazy and unwilling to engage in physical activity.
She said it was later discovered the boy’s asthama prevented him from fully engaging with the other students.