T&T school bullies can face criminal charges – police

(Trinidad Guardian) Assistant Superintendent of Police Joanne Archie says school bullying is on the increase and perpetrators can face criminal charges and even imprisonment. Archie told yesterday’s daily news briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain: “Within recent times we have seen an increase in reports of bullying in schools,  which is causing us some concern.

“Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. “The child who bullies can be older, physically bigger and stronger, or several children can gang up on a single child.”

Archie said physical bullying includes kicking, slapping, punching or any physical contact. Also included are the extortion of money, which is commonly called “taxing,” cyberbullying involving text messages and e-mails, telling lies about someone, and excluding them from social groups and giving them the silent treatment.

Archie said extortion can amount to robbery and victims can become suicidal if the issues are not addressed. She quoted Section 30A (1) The Offences against the Person Act 11:08, which identifies what amounts to harassment. In summary, Archie said harassment involves making recordings or accosting the person, loitering around the person’s property or workplace, entering property of the person, making gestures, giving offensive matter or leaving it to be brought to the attention of the person or alarming the person or causing the person distress by engaging in a course of conduct.

“A person is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of $10,000 and to imprisonment for five years, and on summary conviction to a fine of $5,000 and to imprisonment for six months,” she said. Section 106 of the Summary Offences  Act Chapter: 11:02 states:

“Any person who (a) sends any message by telephone which is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene, or menacing character, (b) sends any message by telephone, telegram, which he knows to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to any other person, or (c) persistently makes telephone calls without reasonable cause and for such purpose as mentioned above, is liable on summary conviction to a find of $200 or to imprisonment for one month.”

Archie said: “Whilst we have the laws which can address some of these issues, it goes beyond that. We need to take a proactive approach to this growing trend.” Archie said victims display signs and symptoms and are unwilling to attend classes at school.

“Defusing anger is a great skill to teach kids who have an anger problem,” she said. “Offenders need to be taught positive ways of interacting. Parents need to teach their kids the importance of empathy. Your child learns about how to interact with people by watching you and other adults in their life. You need to set a good example.”

She said offenders can develop problems as adults and suggested students, parents, schools, the police and communities must work together to resolve issues affecting  young children.


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