Career & Education

Being bullied? Count to 10 and walk away

Sunday, May 14, 2017

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What should you do if you're being bullied? Students at Jessie Ripoll Primary were clear on the strategy: count to 10, walk away and report it.It was Teachers' Day, and the school was abuzz with excitement. Students knew things would be different since over 30 Scotiabank staff members were there to relieve the teachers and take charge of the classes. But instead of maths and English, the bank employees taught lessons on bullying.

“The subject of bullying has been prevalent in media both locally and internationally, and was selected based on information and guidance provided by the Child Development Agency,” the bank employees explained.

The data to which they referred was contained in a study commissioned by the agency, and funded by UNICEF Jamaica. Called Investigating the Prevalence and Impact of Peer Abuse on (Bullying) the Development of Jamaica's, Children (July 2015), it found that:

• Almost 30 per cent of students surveyed fear going to school because of bullying

• 1 in 14 children who have been bullied face their abusers while travelling to and/or from school;

• Close to 70 per cent of all bullying takes place on playgrounds;

• 9 in 10 students have seen a child being bullied at school.

“Based on this information, a variety of teaching aids were developed to assist the volunteers share on the subject, including posters, handouts, and a lesson plan to facilitate discussion around bullying. Students were encouraged to explore and discuss the varying forms of bullying, to discuss what to do if they are bullied or see someone being bullied, and were invited to do their own assessment of whether or not they were themselves bullies or targets,” the Scotiabank staff said.

“The presentations were interactive, with students sharing their own experiences and utilising skits to give examples of bullying they have seen.”

The intervention at Jessie Ripoll was part of a larger initiative that had Scotiabankers from across the island doing similar lessons at primary level institutions as part of their contribution to Teachers' Day.

According to ScotiaVolunteer Pam Douglas, who taught a grade 4 class, “It was a great experience”.

“I was very impressed with their knowledge and engagement on the subject, and their willingness to participate in the exercises. It was good to interact with children and hear their perspectives, and we got the opportunity to share the golden rule, which is to 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you', and to be your brother's' keeper,” she concluded.

Other volunteers were inspired by the level of commitment teachers need to have each day to maintain the students' interest and involvement in curricular activities.

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