bmobile champions the fight against bullying at seventh Bi-Annual Secondary Schools’ Anti-Bullying Conference
TSTT Corporate Communications
With growing concern about the increasing rate of bullying in schools and cyber-bullying among teenagers, bmobile is reaffirming its stance against all forms of this act of violence through its support of the seventh Bi-Annual Secondary School’s Anti-Bullying Conference.
According to data from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, reports of cyberbullying (online harassment and threats) are on the increase, despite legislation to curb its prevalence. Globally, research has shown a direct correlation between increased social media usage by children and incidents of cyberbullying. The effects are far reaching and have sobering consequences on children.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Cyber Bullying – Creating Better School Communities.”
At the annual conference held at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) in San Fernando, hundreds of secondary school students and teachers were educated about the causes, symptoms and effects of bullying through animated skits, victims’ testimonials, and other speakers.
Gerard Cooper, TSTT’s General Manager Operations and Administration said, “As Trinidad and Tobago’s leading communications provider, it is our duty to take a firm stance against bullying, particularly cyber-bullying. bmobile’s continued support of the Anti-Bullying Conference reasserts our commitment to helping educate and inspire a positive change in the lives of young people. We stand proudly against all forms of bullying and endorse that technology, more so social media, must be used responsibly, especially among the nation’s youth.”
bmobile has been a longstanding supporter of the annual youth development initiative which brings together key stakeholders to create greater awareness about the harmful effects of bullying.
Speaker Sade Walker, founder of Helping, Empowering and Respecting Others (HERO) Restore Project, admitted to being bullied for years because of a speech impediment and the inability to hear in her left ear. She explained this was the motivation to create the HERO Restore Project in 2019. Walker, an author and advocate for the differently abled, spoke out about bullying against people with disabilities.
“Don’t bully, be a buddy. Don’t be a bully, be a friend. Don’t be a bully, be a hero,” she said.
HERO is a platform that allows parents and children with disabilities to share their experiences and support each other.
Other keynote speakers included event organisers Caribbean Colour Splash Project Manager Albert Marshall and representatives from the TTPS Child Protection Unit (CPU), Insp. Valerie Hospedales and PC Kyle Castle.
Hospedales and Castle shared important information on technology offences and how the Trinidad and Tobago law dealt with certain cases, including cyber stalking and child pornography. By educating children about these laws, the hope is they will make wiser decisions about their online activity.
The duo also shared some of their personal experiences working in the CPU and how they dealt with situations as members of the protective services.
Hospedales recalled a taxi driver who would show primary school girls pornographic material on his phone while transporting them to school. He was arrested and fined $50,000.
Messages & Insights from Student Participants
Waterloo Secondary School.
Jaden Phillip, 18, delivered a powerful poem entitled “Child’s Play” which focused on the confused and troubled thoughts of bullied victims. His execution received a resounding ovation.
“I see the impact bullying has on people,” he said. “Information is power. The more you know, the better you can identify little factors that you may not think about and these programmes are great for that. The students here have gained so much and I’m sure it will change the minds of some who may have said harsh words or done things to negatively affect people.”
Penal Secondary School
Chelsea Solomon, 16 admitted witnessing bullying first-hand and was sometimes able to intervene. She credited the event’s organisers and endorsees for providing a platform to further inspire a positive mind-set in young people.
“The conference will encourage people to not be a bully as well as give some students courage to speak up about it. It’s very important for them to speak up because bullying has so many negative and harmful effects on students, especially at my age,” Solomon said.
Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help. Be aware of the warning signs.
● Isolating themselves from friends and family
● Feeling withdrawn and spending more time alone
● Changes in eating habits
● Changes in behaviour such as unusual anger
● Anxiety and nervousness
● Bruises, cuts and marks that cannot be explained
● Changes to sleep patterns
● Complaining of headaches or stomach aches