The President of the National Principals Association (NPA), Valerie St. Helene-Henry, has expressed grave concern over a viral school bullying video on social media this week.
It involved students in uniform from the Grande Riviere Secondary School in Dennery.
The matter is currently under investigation.
In the video, some apparently older male students, one wielding a belt, accost a smaller schoolmate who pleads with them to ‘behave.’
They pin the boy against a gate, striking him, and knuckling him on the head.
“Gimme that belt garcon,” one of the aggressors demands as the boy cries out.
“It’s telling. It’s heartbreaking. I watched the video both as a Principal and as a mother of an 11-year-old boy,” NPA President Valerie St. Helene-Henry told St. Lucia Times.
She noted that the video showed the incident occurred outside the school, but said it was the learning institution’s responsibility to address the matter.
“It really broke my heart and it sends out a serious message, not to just schools, not to just Principals, not to teachers and the Minister of Education, but to the nation,” the NPA President declared.
She observed that students were acting up within and outside the school compound.
“When the children come to school, we do not teach them to be bullies. We teach them to be good citizens – how to deal with conflict. We teach them how to socialise because school is not only about academics,” St. Helene-Henry explained.
She felt the need to impart soft and other skills to shape a ‘holistic child’ and for the entire nation to get involved.
According to the NPA President, children practise what they see.
And she asserted that children see how the leaders, parents and community residents conduct themselves and deal with conflicts.
“The bullying takes place on social media, in the backyards, in the streets, and this is what is put in the youngsters’ faces and they think that is okay,” St. Helene-Henry lamented.
She said it was a critical problem requiring all hands on deck to resolve.
The NPA President told St. Lucia Times that schools must review their programmes to prioritise conflict resolution.
“The parents need to be role models,” the NPA President observed.
She noted that people expect too much of schools, while parents have an essential role to play.
St. Helene-Henry was confident that the school and the Ministry of Education would investigate the matter.
“It’s not going to just slide,” she told St. Lucia Times.