Bullying, Peer Pressure As Early As Kindergarten
Guidance counsellor for the Willard Wheatley and the Francis Lettsome Primary Schools, Sharon Lennard has revealed that bullying and peer pressure is being seen at the Kindergarten level in the British Virgin Islands.
Speaking with Acting Chief Education Officer Connie George on Wednesday on A Chat with the Community in light of the National School Counselling Week being observed this week, she said those were some of the challenges that they face as counsellors.
“I will speak of the primary school level, but I think you would have these at the higher school level also. We notice that there are a lot of academic challenges with our students; a lot of our students are performing below grade level. Also, we have a lot of bullying and peer pressure in our schools. You may be surprised to see a K[indergarten] student bullying another child, and it is there very clear,” she remarked.
She continued: “Also, we have cases of self-worth, how you feel about yourself, self-esteem. Another thing that is coming across is family issues; all kinds of different various issues. So these are some of the problems that we have in our schools. We work with them, and what we cannot do on our own, we make referrals. So we will refer them to outside agencies.”
Meanwhile, Keriann Malone, the guidance counsellor for grade 7 at the Elmore Stoutt High School said having conversations with children goes a long way.
“I would like parents to be more open with students, be more active in your child’s life, whether it’s asking the simple question like ‘how was your day.’”
Also addressing that topic, Lennard said: “It’s kind of hard for me to say, but it comes across as if they are not conversing on a day to day level with their children. If they are open with their children, the more they dialogue with them, children will be open when they come to school, and so they would not be afraid to speak to the counsellors, they would not be afraid to speak to the teachers.”
She said parents must also appreciate the work that counsellors do and reach out to them in the event their child is experiencing difficulties at home.
“So we just want parents to speak to their children and acknowledge that we are here to help,” she added.