San Pedro High School Addresses Cyber Bullying

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

With the increase in accessibility to electronic devices in today’s society, cyber bullying has become a major issue across the world. The use of Social Media and wireless devices, to harass, torment, threaten, humiliate and embarrass another person is occurring even in Belize. While persons of every age group may fall victim to cyber bullying, this phenomenon is particularly rampant in the lives of teens and young adults. Here in San Pedro, there are known cases of cyber bulling occurring among our youth. As such, the San Pedro High School (SPHS) has taken several steps to prevent cyber bullying from occurring amongst their alumni.

In an effort to bring awareness of the issue, SPHS hosted two meetings with first year parents and students. Heading the special meeting was Diana Shaw, attorney-at-law and a legal consultant, as well as founder of the Child Development Foundation. The first meeting was held on Friday, September 4th and saw parents of freshmen students in attendance. “We invited the parents of all freshmen to attend and learn more about cyber bullying. Shaw was very insightful and talked to the parents about the dangers of cyber bullying and how they can play a role in preventing it,” explained SPHS Counselor, Alexis Guerrero.

Guerrero indicated that while the school can do its part in educating parents and students of the issue, cyber bullying most commonly occurs while youth are at home. “Parents have to instill values in their children. As such they need to talk to them about what is bullying, because if your child is a bully, you need to let them know that what they are doing is wrong and correct them. And if your child is the one being bullied, you need to help that child overcome the issue and build him/her up,” said Guerrero. She further explained that Shaw emphasized that adolescents are naturally self-conscious, and bullies pick on these issues, thus magnifying the problem. “So if at home these children are also being told negative things, and on top of everything they are being bullied at school, then that can be very detrimental to their character. Children that are bullied can become depressed and have low self-esteem,” said Guerrero. Effects can be wide-ranging, including a drop in grades, a change in attitude or behavior, and in some cases, suicide.cyberbullying_f

The main message of the parent’s meeting was to urge them to keep track of what their children are doing on their electronic devices. “In today’s generation it is hard to disconnect our children from the internet, that’s why as a parent you need to teach your child how to properly use their devices. Monitor their activity and ensure they are not doing wrong online. Constantly check up on your child to ensure he/she is not bullying or being bullied,” said Guerrero.
On Saturday, September 5th, Shaw addressed all first form students, discussing how they can prevent cyber bullying, the dangers of social medial and the legal implications of bullying. “I think that some of our youth don’t realize that there are legal implication for cyber bullying. Since Shaw is a lawyer she better explained this to the students,” said Guerrero.

According Guerrero, it was not until 2014 that SHPS started experiencing concerns with cyber bullying, but has now made amendments to their rules and regulations in an effort to address the issue. “We started changing things in our policy to specify cyber bullying. Once an issue is brought to our attention, it is immediately addressed. It is important that not only us here at school, but the community in general, understand that their behavior affects our youth. If a child is abused at home then that child is more likely to take out that rage on another child. As adults we should be aware that bullying is wrong and everything starts at home,” said Guerrero.

In October, SPHS will be observing anti-bullying month and will be hosting several activities to educate students on bullying and promote a bully free environment.

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