Data compiled in 2015 by the National Center for Educational Statistics in the United States showed that more than one out of five students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied during the school year. Students in the Cayman Islands are not excluded from this experience.
Bullying affects everyone — the person being bullied, the bully and the bystanders. Bullying comes in all forms: it can be physical, verbal, social or cyber. No matter how bullying takes place, the outcomes are serious and pose negative effects impacting one’s health, emotions and academics.
Anti-bullying programmes are created in many schools and a number of organisations have formed positive- learning and living environments to assist children and parents on awareness and preventive measures. However, despite all these advancements, bullying remains an unfortunate reality in schools that many students are forced to endure.
On Oct. 6, the Cayman Islands Family Resource Centre presented an anti-bullying fair at the Camana Bay Arts & Recreation Centre. The fair, titled “Stood Up,” aimed to create a united front against all forms of bullying. The event showcased children in age groups 10 to 12 and 13 to 15 presenting their message of awareness of the social effects of bullying. More than 40 teams representing Grand Cayman’s schools participated in the event, with this being Cayman International School’s first year.
The Cayman International School team of Charlize Keens and Natalie Bolland took second place in the fair with a video presentation on cyberbullying and the consequences it can have on a person’s life.
“It was a really good experience to be able to stand up against all types of bullying and learn how we can help,” said Charlize about the fair.
During the month of September, Cayman International School dedicated all homeroom time for teachers and students to discuss, explore and understand what bullying is, what students can do about bullying, and how the school should handle and prevent bullying from happening at the school.
Cayman International School has recently announced certain behaviour principles for all students and staff to follow. The principles are kindness, partnership, good intent and sustainability. These principles have been written on posters in all classrooms for students to see to prevent bullying.
Other strategies to prevent bullying include:
Begin at home — Parents should talk with their children about their day and what happened in their interactions with other students at lunch, recess and after school.
Make kindness a habit — Create a kindness mindset and don’t tease other students, judge them or spread rumours. Be responsible when online socially.
Empower children — Teach children to be strong to say “stop,” walk away and report bullying to their teacher or parent. Children should not be afraid to tell someone they trust if they feel they are being bullied.
Lauren Colaiacovo is a Grade 8 student at Cayman International School.