Determined to take a stand against teen bullying in Cayman schools, the reigning Miss Teen Cayman Islands Brooke Parchment carried out her first engagement at Triple C School on Thursday afternoon.
A victim of bullying, Ms Parchment has dedicated her year to reducing the amount of bullying that arises in the Cayman Islands.
The lives of most high school students are pretty normal, but for some it is not so fortunate, she said.
“School should be a place where students feel safe and can express themselves. However, for some students their school life is far from pleasurable because pain, rumours and bullying are around every corner. I was bullied. Not for the way I looked or being different, it was because I would not fall into peer pressure. You should never do something because someone else wants you to, or because it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do. Believe it or not, many people look up to those who take the initiative to be a leader,” she told students.
Choosing not to fall into the peer pressure trap helped her accomplish many things and one was becoming Miss Teen Cayman Islands.
“If I chose to follow the crowd, I probably wouldn’t be here speaking to you today because those actions would have led me down the wrong path,” she said.
Ms Parchment has seen a lot of cyber bullying with teenagers in the Cayman Islands.
“Facebook and BBM should not be places where you post negative things, curse words, or hurtful things about others,” she said.
It should be used as ways to keep in touch with friends and family and to post positive things, she said.
“Being different is a gift and we should all appreciate it,” Ms Parchment said. “Find other ways to settle differences rather than broadcasting.”
She went on to highlight various types of bullying.
“There are many untold factors as to why people bully,” she said. “It may be someone’s appearance, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or even someone being jealous.”
Ms Parchment said both males and females carry out vicious bullying attacks on others, and bullies may only do it to uphold their reputation or to maintain their superficial superiority.
“As teenagers we are the future of the Cayman Islands and it is important for us to help each other by sticking up for victims of bullying and avoiding unnecessary drama and conflict,” she said.
If you are a victim of bullying, she said, speak to someone you trust. If bullying gets worse contact someone; the family support unit; The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre; the Department of Children and Families services or visit www.bullying.org