bmobile supports 2018 Secondary Schools Anti-Bullying Conference
“Be a Buddy. Not a Bully.” Such was the emphatic chant that echoed throughout the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain on Wednesday 2nd May, where over 400 students shared one voice at this year’s Secondary Schools Anti-Bullying Conference.
Hosted once more by Caribbean Colour Splash, the 2018 theme was entitled “Cyber Bullying Prevention”. The seminar was aimed at identifying the impact of cyber bullying, as well as, educating students and stakeholders on advanced methods to reduce its frequency.
Through TSTT’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, Marsha Caballero, the organization’s stance against cyber bullying was clear from the get-go.
“On social media where your posts, blogs or tweets are there for until deleted- it’s so important to be responsible with the words you use especially on these digital platforms. bmobile is committed to working with like-minded stakeholders that can help minimize or eliminate the counter-productive use of technology, especially where such use has the ripple effect of hurting not just the victims but their network of family and friends,” Caballero stated.
Sharing several unique perspectives on this growing but unaccepted trend was feature speaker, Dr. Patricia Agatston (USA); Tobago-born attorney-at-law and UWI lecturer, Dr. Wendell Wallace, and several students from varying schools who used skits to depict the many negative effects of online bullying. Organisations such as bmobile, Royal Bank, BHP and Shell were also on-hand to raise the awareness.
In Agatston’s address, she delved into the causes of cyber bullying and what was being done around the globe to suppress this digital epidemic. Highlighting social media platforms such as Instagram, Snap Chat and Facebook as the main avenues used to cyber bully, Agatston called on student peers to look out for one another.
The licensed professional counsellor stated, “The implementation of policies that help address cyber bullying is being lobbied for globally,” she said. “Proper training of preventative staff, focus groups, parental involvement through monitoring, restorative practices and feedback go a long way in averting cyber bullying.”
Dr. Agatston also stressed on speaking up about cyber bullying among peers in the school environment. She closed her informative discourse by urging the attentive students to speak up on bullying by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous words, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Additionally, three female students from the Chaguanas North Secondary School wowed their compatriot schoolmates when they revealed a new app (software programme) – designed by themselves – to assist in curbing bullying. It is expected to be officially launched in September of this year and is intent on changing the traditional ways that bullying is reported and recorded. This app will feature a Hotline for victims in need of immediate help, nearby police contacts and even daily motivational quotes for users among other unique features.
Dramatized contributions were also delivered by pupils from Chaguanas North, Couva East, San Juan South and Morvant/ Laventille Secondary, who enticed the multitudes to sing out loud in unison, Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’.
During the student discussion, several kids showed great interest in questioning Dr. Agatston and Dr. Wallace on their reasons for selecting their professions.
In response, Dr. Wallace, admitted it was no easy task. “I wanted to help people, especially those going through challenges. As teachers and students, we must be vigilant and look out for our brothers and sisters. In this new age of technology, and as helpful as it is, it’s also being used damage people’s characters – whether the information is true or not. Be a Buddy. Not a Bully.”
Dr. Wallace then asked the student population to repeat his final words to which the theatre boldly replied repeatedly, “BE A BUDDY. NOT A BULLY! BE A BUDDY. NOT A BULLY!”