Cayman’s students tackle bullying concerns

The public is invited to wear pink T-shirts on Friday to show their support of the Stood Up anti-bullying campaign.

Cayman’s schoolkids have been setting their minds to tackling the issue of bullying this week, creating displays that will be featured at an anti-bullying fair on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Stood Up Inter-Scholastic Anti-Bullying Fair, hosted by the Department of Counselling Service’s Family Resource Centre, will be held at the Arts and Recreation Centre in Camana Bay as part of the national “Stood Up” campaign.

The aim of the fair organizers is to gather input from the youth of Cayman on how to address bullying in local schools and the wider community, and publicly showcase their ideas.

The Family Resource Centre invited students from primary and high schools to participate in the fair by creating displays that tackle various issues, including online bullying; how to buddy, not bully; how to “bullyproof” their schools; and the impact of bullying.

The fair will feature booths highlighting the school entries. Judges will select two winners per age category who will receive prizes and a Stood Up trophy for their respective schools.

The event will also showcase kiosks promoting anti-bullying resources from the Department of Counselling Services, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the YMCA, TAYA Lounge, the National Drug Council, United Against Bullying, Alex Panton Foundation, Youth Development Consortium, Save our Youth and Rotary Sunshine Club of Grand Cayman.

The public is invited to view the entries on display, pick up informational literature and talk to representatives at the exhibition booths.

This is the second year the Family Resource Centre has run its Stood Up campaign. The theme of this year’s campaign is “See Something, Do Something.”

Saturday’s fair is among a series of events being run throughout this month, according to the Department of Counselling Services.

“Intimidation, regardless of what form it takes or how young the perpetrators are, is unacceptable in the Cayman Islands. The Stood Up campaign intends to energise, incentivise and empower students to find ways to prevent bullying in all its forms,” said Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour in a government press release.

The Family Resource Centre’s program coordinator, Charmaine Miller, said the feedback generated from last year’s campaign “proved that Stood Up served a very real need in challenging bullying.

“The momentum is there and the strong impact generated among students, educators and parents has allowed us to increase this year’s campaign,” she added.

Jane Panton, chair of the Alex Panton Foundation, which is among the organizations that will have a booth at Saturday’s event, said in a press release from the foundation that bullying has a significant negative effect on young people’s emotional well-being, academic performance, identity and overall mental health.

“Online bullying almost seems like it has become an epidemic worldwide,” she said.

She added, that when examining the issue of bullying, it is important to look at the underlying difficulties and mental health issues that can make young people bully others.

“Bullying can be a means of self-preservation from peer pressure and isolation. Young people may feel compelled to bully others to protect themselves from the same treatment,” she said.

This is one of the displays created by students at St. Ignatius school. Displays from schools throughout Cayman will be featured at an anti-bullying fair at the Arts and Recreation Centre in Camana Bay on Saturday.

If bullying is not responded to appropriately, she said, young people may develop damaging coping strategies, such as isolation or self-harm.

“Parents, teachers and caregivers can have an influence on the outcome of a bullying situation,” she said. “Young people with mental health or emotional and behavioural difficulties need support in a way that is non-stigmatising. School administrators and counselors must to be mindful of the fact that disruptive behavior can often be an expression of underlying distress.”

She added, “Ultimately, there needs to be robust and inclusive legislation in place to protect our young people.”

Other Stood Up events

Other events are also being held this month as part of the campaign.

On Friday, Oct. 5, at 8:30 a.m., a Pink Shirt Day event will be held on the front steps of the Government Administration Building, where members of the public are invited to join civil servants in a stand against bullying by wearing pink Stood Up T-shirts.

On Monday, Oct. 15, there will be a Stood Up Movie Night, at 7-9 p.m., at the Greens at Camana Bay. This family movie night, with the screening of the film “Wonder,” is being held in partnership with the United Against Bullying Foundation.

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, a Take a Stand Against Bullying Conference will be held at 6 p.m., at a venue to be announced. This interactive conference for parents will discuss the impact of bullying, and how to best support a child.

For more details about Stood Up events, call the Family Resource Centre on 949-0006 or email [email protected]