The Child Development Agency (CDA) has initiated discussions with several stakeholders in the child protection sector, to develop a system to deal with the issue of bullying in schools.
Following a report released by the CDA in August of this year titled, ‘Investigating the Prevalence and Impact of Peer Abuse (Bullying)’, the agency has assembled a working group to design a system to reduce the incidents of bullying and peer abuse among the nation’s youth.
At a consultation held on October 6 at the New Kingston Conference Centre, Manager of Research and Development at the CDA, Randell Bailey, who gave an overview of the report, said the aim of the study is to decrease the incidents of bullying.
Mr. Bailey explained that while bullying is not new, it is a growing and serious issue that we need to look at.
“We want to inform an integrated response mechanism. We want to see what the different issues are in different spaces and then discuss solutions to deal with it,” he said.
The study was undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Education, and the consultation was attended by representatives from the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Next Generation Initiative and the Mico Youth Counselling and Research Development Unit.
The study investigated the prevalence and impact of bullying on the development of children. It also identified and assessed the variables that contribute to bullying and developed profiles of the bully and victim.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said that the forum is another step in building awareness and operationalising the study on bullying in Jamaica.
“This bullying study is groundbreaking, as for the first time anecdotal evidence has been translated into strong empirical data giving greater insight and hence providing a solid foundation for future research, while equipping social agencies to tackle the problem at its very root,” she noted.
For his part, Director of the Safety and Security in Schools Division of the Ministry of Education, Sergeant Coleridge Minto, commended the CDA for the initiative.
“This is perhaps one of the first reports that the nation has been exposed to, and as a result, for the very first time in the history of the Ministry of Education, we incorporated in our Safety and Security Policy Guidelines, a full section treating with the issue of bullying. We also incorporated it into our curriculum through the Health and Family Life Education, because we see this as a major issue,” he said.
The study was conducted in the 2013/14 school year by PSEARCH Associates Company Limited, with funding provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).