An article in the media entitled “Mom arrested after pepper-spraying students bullying her daughter” raises a number of issues. The article indicates that a child was being bullied by other students but “according to a police rank who [was] at the scene of the incident, he did not make any attempt to intervene as he claimed that it was “against the law” for him to arrest juveniles.
So, what then is the role of the police in situations like this? Suppose one of the bullies had pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed the victim with a police officer merely watching on, what then? Can the Police Force please provide clarification, especially given that, among other things, a police officer is a peace officer? Just what exactly does ensuing “law and order” entail in situations like this.
Secondly, the mother was arrested for attempting to protect her child by pepper-spraying the bullies. Was she supposed to, like the police officer, simply stand by and witness her child being brutalised? What are her legal options to protect her child in such a situation?
Finally, according to an aunt of the victim, the school claims “they can’t do anything when dem [alleged bullies] beating my niece on the road”. But doesn’t a school have a responsibility as long as the student is in school uniform, in or out of school? In any case, why has the school not been doing anything even when the victim was bullied in school? Can the Ministry of Education please provide clarification?
Last September UNICEF reported that 51 per cent of students are being bullied in schools globally. Empirical and anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that this figure is much higher in schools in Guyana. In fact, bullying has even resulted in deaths of victims, 10-year-old Roseann Akeila Harris being one example.
In May of 2012, a lecturer attached to the University of Guyana’s Tain Campus, Maureen Bynoe, in a study on bullying, discovered that ethnicity was a major factor that contributed to bullying in the school system. When is the Ministry of Education going to implement an anti-bullying strategy? Has one even been crafted?