SLF Releases School Climate Report on Bullying and Gender Based Violence in Secondary Schools
ST. AUGUSTINE (March 7, 2018) – The Silver Lining Foundation (SLF) today released the first in a series of biennial Trinidad and Tobago School Climate Reports: “Bullying and Gender Based Violence in Secondary Schools.”
SLF, with the approval of the Ministry of Education and in collaboration with the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) conducted a baseline survey in May to July 2016, assessing the prevalence of school violence and bullying across 20 secondary schools with a sample of 651 students. As the first, large scale study of its kind that implements a holistic look at bullying – from the victim to the bully, from household to the schoolyard – this report provides key insight into:
- the forms of bullying
- effectiveness of various methods of intervention and prevention
- addresses students’ exposure to violence in their homes and communities
- specific acts of gender-based violence, including sexist language and sexual assault.
The study is also pioneering in the attention given to the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and gender-non-conforming students. Potential differences in students’ experiences were examined across various demographic spectrums, such as age, sex, sexual orientation, religion and parents’ income levels.
The “Bullying and Gender Based Violence in Secondary Schools” report outlines seven major findings:
- Male students experienced verbal and physical acts of bullying at slightly higher rates than female students, who were slightly more likely to experience sexual and cyber bullying.
- Male students were more likely to engage in bullying behaviours than female students.
- The majority of acts of bullying were committed mostly in GROUPS across schools in both rural and urban areas in Trinidad and Tobago.
- LGBT students experienced bullying at higher rates than non-LGBT students and also showed higher propensity in all categories for engaging in bullying.
- Heterosexual students were more likely to discuss or share their bullying experiences with someone (teacher/parent/peer/siblings) than LGBT students.
- Student’s exposure to violence in the home (physical or verbal attacks) had little impact on the rate of bullying behaviours exhibited at school, yet showed that verbal attacks were more common in homes and schools than physical acts of violence.
- Of the 651 students surveyed, 100 reported having been molested or being unsure of their experience and 51 students were raped or were unsure of whether what happened to them would be considered rape.
“The findings reported in this survey demonstrate that many students engage in bullying while also being the victims or recipients of acts of bullying. Customary punitive measures to deal with bullying are thus proven ineffective and impractical. You can’t punish everyone,” said Dr. Krystal Ghisyawan, Co-Director of SLF and lead researcher of the study. “The survey’s results underline the need for a change in the culture of education to foster better peer relations. This may include sex, sexuality and consent education; creating more compassionate classrooms; rooting empowerment in student’s creative and academic work, but also encouraging social outreach and environmental conservation projects that allow students to feel more invested in creating better social and environmental outcomes.”
SLF hopes the findings of this survey would motivate policy makers and educators to develop more pertinent reporting, intervention and prevention strategies when addressing the problem of bullying in our nation’s secondary schools. The data presented in this report provides a solid evidentiary basis for creating and testing (in further cycles of the survey) long term solutions for ending violence in schools, particularly those that are gender based.
An executive summary, the complete report and shareable infographics can be found at www.silverlingtt.com
SLF is a guardian body for the prevention of bullying, suicide and discrimination, geared primarily towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youths. We are guided by a three-pronged approach to the idea of youth empowerment under the framework of support, education & advocacy (S.E.A).
Jeremy Steffan Edwards
The Silver Lining Foundation