GET UP, STAND UP and speak up.
Acting principal of The Lester Vaughan School, Sonja Goodridge, urged her young charges to do just that as she addressed the launch of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Programme at her school yesterday.
Students are generally hesitant to make reports about incidents of bullying they witness because of the likely consequences to themselves, but Goodridge encouraged her charges to do it anyway.
“We promise to continue to take your reports seriously, offer you support and deal swiftly with the offenders. I applaud the child who recently wrote me a note and applaud those who report what you see when you see me on the corridors. More of you need to report, so, students, I urge you to get off the sidelines and get in the game. Since effort is the best indicator of interest, don’t be bystanders but be defenders,” she said.
There was software to assist in making such reports, which she said would be available soon, and she urged students to embrace it.
Goodridge urged students to let the golden rule be their guide and treat others the way they would want to be treated.
“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Before you think – is it true, is it helpful, is it inspiring, is it necessary, is it kind?” she asked.
For those who might not be sure whether their actions constituted bullying, Goodridge offered a few guidelines.
“If we call people names, gossip or spread rumours; if we hit, verbally abuse or say hurtful things about others we know not to be true; if we exclude others from a group activity; send rude cellphone messages or post negative comments on Facebook, then we are guilty of exhibiting bullying behaviours. It is important that we realise that such behaviours have far-reaching effects. If we see ourselves as one community, one family, we would not want to cause hurt or pain,” she said.
Stating that staff and parents were equally critical in the process, she said they must all get on board what she hopes to be a long-term school intervention to make the St Thomas school a no-bullying zone.