#Kingston, May 4, 2019 – Jamaica – Students of the Randolph Lopez School of Hope in St. Andrew were today (May 3) exposed to tips on how to identify and deal with the issue of bullying. The session, organised by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), was part of the agency’s #BanTheBullying School Tour and in observance of Anti-bullying Day on Saturday, May 4.
The day’s activities included breakout discussion and counselling sessions. The students, who are intellectually challenged, were given advice on what to do if they are being bullied, how to keep safe on the roads, speaking out against bullying, among other things.
Children’s Officer, CPFSA, Octavia Spencer, urged children being bullied to talk to an adult. She further encouraged them to remain calm, not to let the hurtful words get them down, and to look out for each other.
Acting Principal at the institution, Davia Moore-Gordon, expressed appreciation to the CPFSA. “We embrace the partnership to assist our students,” she said.
Public Relations and Communication Manager, CPFSA, Rochelle Dixon, told JIS News that the #BanTheBullying School Tour is aimed at sensitising students and weeding out bullying in schools. She noted that students from grades nine to 11 are being targeted under the initiative, as they tend to be “more problematic”.
Ms. Dixon said the school tours are the result of a study on peer bullying in schools commissioned in 2015. “From that study, we know that 70 per cent of bullying is happening on our playgrounds in our school environment,” she noted. She said that a technical working team has been formed to address the issue, comprising the CPFSA, the Early Childhood Commission, National Parenting Support Commission, Jamaica Constabulary Force, among others.
“We know the issues that are happening with our children and we have to ensure that we educate them – the parents and the community members,” she told JIS News.
Ms. Dixon is advising students experiencing bullying to call the 888-PROTECT (888-776-8328) hotline or speak to a guidance counsellor or responsible adult.
“I think every day should be an anti-bullying day, and we are just seeing how much we can do, seeing how many schools we can target, but the end result of it is that we want children to know there is an avenue where they can make a report,” she said.
The CPFSA school tour is being undertaken in association with Bully Proof Kids International. Sessions will continue this month at the Merl Grove High School, St. Andrew; and St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS).
Ms. Dixon said that a video competition will be launched at STETHS, which will focus on strategies to reduce bullying.
Established in 1956, the Randolph Lopez School of Hope is the largest and oldest institution serving children with intellectual disabilities in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean.
Contact: Chris Patterson
Header: Public Relations and Communication Manager, Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rochelle Dixon, addressing students at the Randolph Lopez School of Hope, St. Andrew, during the CPFSA’s #BanTheBullying School Tour at the institution on May 3.
Insert: Children’s Officer, Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Octavia Spencer, speaking to students at the Randolph Lopez School of Hope during the CPFSA’s #BanTheBullying School Tour at the institution on May 3.
Photographer: Adrian Walker