Independent School kick-started their Anti-Bullying week, which runs in many countries every November, with an assembly organised by the school’s peer educators and counsellors. Stand Up, Step Up Seychelles representatives spoke to the students about this year’s theme, one kind word, and about speaking kindly to each other. The over-arching message is that we are all unique/different so let’s respect each other’s individuality. In a world that can sometimes feel like it’s filled with negativity, one kind word can provide a moment of hope. It can change the course of a conversation and break the cycle of bullying.
Mr Trevor Louise, from Stand Up, Step Up, led his team in engaging the students in discussion on the various forms of bullying (cyber, physical, verbal, social, racial/ethnic) and the negative impact of bullying on young people. In one study done by the Anti-bullying Alliance organisation of the UK, 17% of UK students surveyed said they had been bullied on line. Other studies found that one child in every class, every day, in just about every school, is bullied. It’s in the face of this global problem that Mr Louise and his team are standing up themselves to try to make a difference in Seychelles.
The students also heard a testimony from a member of Stand Up, Step Up who had been bullied throughout Secondary school. She spoke about what she went through and how she received help from the organisation. She ended with words of advice for the students. Another member of the team spoke about how she turned to bullying others after being bullied herself and suggested ways to break the cycle. This talk ended with students pledging, with arms raised in the air, to help end bullying.
At the Primary school assembly, Tyra Telemaque from Mont Fleuri Secondary School sang a song called ‘Debout For’ about being strong and believing in yourself.
The Principal of Independent School, Mr Andy Esparon, addressed both Primary and Secondary students in the two assemblies, adding his voice to those against bullying. He said that “No one should be ridiculed or picked on because of choices they make or their appearance.” He followed this with reference to the newly introduced Anti-Bullying Policy and the School’s values, saying that “our school values are based around respect and includes the value of tolerance. Tolerance means being able to accept who you and others around you are … and to accept each other’s choices so that we all work and learn in an enjoyable and happy school.”
In the lead-up to this week, students took part in an anti-bullying poster competition. The winning posters, which are displayed around the school, help students recognise the different types of bullying but also encourage them to stand up against it. The peer educators also worked with the School’s counsellors to create short videos on the types of bullying which are being shown in all classes throughout the week to help raise awareness.
The students also signed an anti-bullying pledge to go up in their classrooms as a reminder every day that they must be watchful of negative, bullying behaviour and try to prevent it when they see it occurring. Some of the pledge includes the agreement to “value student differences and treat others with respect” and “not become involved in bullying incidents or be a bully.” Mr Esparon said in his speech to the students that he hoped they would “take time to read and discuss this pledge and collectively abide by its terms” while he gave his own pledge that “as long as I am your Principal, I will strive to eliminate any forms of bullying in our school.”
Although it’s an on-going battle to eliminate bullying in school-age children, the School’s teachers, students and management hope that, with support from parents, they can make a difference. Anti-Bullying week, “although it is but five days in a school year,” Mr Esparon said, “is not the only five days that we are committed to a zero tolerance of bullying.” He reiterated to the students that he “would like the school to be a place you feel safe, valued, able to express yourselves freely within the bounds of the school code of conduct… and to be who you are without fear of being ridiculed or being made fun of.”