LETTER OF THE DAY - Rein in bullying
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The issue of homophobic bullying is not very new to the Jamaican context. Government and civil society have failed to adequately address the negative impact on human development that has high levels of stigma and discrimination against youth who are perceived to be homosexuals, lesbians, as well as those who have physical disabilities.
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary general, rightly said: "Homophobic bullying of young people in schools and local communities ... is a grave violation of human rights and a public-health crisis." As a concerned Christian teacher, we all need take a collective responsibility for our youth, irrespective of their backgrounds, and recall our motto speaks of 'Out of Many, One People'.
In my capacity as a high-school teacher, I have had to interface with students of various known sexual orientation and disabilities background. I recall a particular case in which a young man who behaved effeminately and was perceived to be gay was affected by severe bullying by his peers but also, shockingly, by his own teachers.
The mother of this student got frustrated to the point where she and other members of the family reportedly started to physically abuse the young man. The scars he suffered were both physical and emotional.
This leads me to question the holistic approach of our education system. Does the ministry's stipulation of equal opportunities for all youth really transcend across all school localities? How many more of these youth are struggling with their sexuality in these hostile environments, both home and school?
I believe that all stakeholders must come together for the congruent development of all our youth. This young man was not so fortunate. His grades dropped dramatically and he dropped out of school at grade nine.
Every day, students around the world are routinely denied the basic, universal human right to education because of the discrimination and violence.
Homophobic bullying has been found to reduce school attendance, and lead to early school dropout and poorer academic performance and achievement. Homophobic bullying can also adversely affect young people's mental and psychological health, not only on those who are bullied, but also on those that do the bullying, and the bystanders.
The Church, parents, society, teachers and all key stakeholders have to now stop their whining and neglect of all our youth and work in a collaborative manner to bring about amelioration.