Bullying in schools has become an ongoing trend in recent years and is mainly fueled by discrimination. This calls for urgent attention by all stakeholders before it escalates further and becomes uncontrollable.
This was the position shared by the Principal of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), Viola Rowe during a reception at the British High Commissioner’s residence to commemorate Spirit Day.
The event, which was hosted by the Guyana Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD Guyana) and the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association’s Youth Advocacy Movement (GRPA’s YAM) was attended by the First Lady, Sandra Granger; British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn; Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee; UNAIDS Country Director, Martin Oditt and other representatives.
Spirit Day is an annual LGBTQ awareness day observed on the third Thursday in October and was started in 2010 by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan. It was introduced in response to a rash of widely publicized bullying-related suicides.
Giving her remarks, Rowe encouraged all stakeholders to “act now in observance of Spirit Day 2018 to make commitments to join the fight to stop bullying against LGBTQ persons and by extension, those who are targets because of their race, ethnicity, gender, physical appearance, financial status, religious persuasion, or intellectually ability.”
She also mentioned the fact that schools have a legal and moral obligation to ensure that learners are exposed to safe learning spaces, adding that bullying must be curbed at the earliest stage.
The CPCE Principal added that bullying is a threat to public health as it has major negative effects on persons’ mental and physical health, resulting especially in depression, anxiety, distress and suicide. She assured that the CPCE is supportive of any measures which can curb bullying.
SASOD and GRPA’s YAM also took the opportunity to launch an essay writing competition open to students in Grades Seven to Nine in any secondary school in Guyana. The topic for the essays is “There should be effective policies and redress mechanisms to curb all forms of bullying and discrimination against students and teachers in Guyana’s schools.”