Opinion: SCS takes action against cyber bullying, but faces opposition

Dear Editor,
I’m a concerned parent and I was shocked to read David Levenstone’s comment this morning on Facebook about the alleged violation of student’s rights at SCS by the Director and the Care Coordinator of the Saba Comprehensive School. Not knowing much about the details about the recent events at the school I spoke to other parents and here is what I learned.

Two female students in Form One have been setting up dummy accounts on Facebook and other social internet sites, in order to harass and make fun of other female students at SCS. After months of harassment and childishness, three girls in Form 3 decided to get even. They set up a dummy online account and began bad mouthing the two girls in Form One. The online battle began between the two groups. Let it be noted that this happened on Friday evening and not during school hours. I do not condone the actions of any of these girls, but they are children under the eyes of the law.

On Monday morning, the Director and the Care Coordinator called the police at the request of one of the Form One’s mother who complained that her child was being cyber-bullied. The Director and the Care Coordinator then cherry picked certain female students, whom they believed to be involved and they spent the better half of the day questioning them about the incident. No parent was called ahead of time regarding this issue, before the questioning began and no parent was there to support their child.

After questioning the girls, the Director suspended the three Form 3 girls who decided to fight back. The two girls in Form One who started it all were not suspended.

In my opinion, the Director is sending a very dangerous message to the girls in Form 1 that it is OK to continue behaving as badly as they have been for months. The other issue is how the school can justify suspending students for actions taken outside of school.

A letter, dated January 13, 2015, was sent from the Director to all parents telling us that cyber bullying is a serious offense.  The Director explained, that “Saba Comprehensive School would like to emphasize that under no circumstances is bullying, in whatever way or form, condoned and serious measures will be taken against students who bully others”.

The Director and the Care Coordinator have no grounds for suspending any child in this incident because IT DID NOT OCCUR ON SCHOOL PROPERTY. The letter that we parents received clearly states that SCS was reacting to events that occurred over the weekend. I did not know that SCS could suspend a student for something they did outside of school hours and not on school property. IF IT ISN’T ON SCHOOL PROPERTY THEN THE SCHOOL CANNOT TAKE ANY ACTION!

The truth is, that, in my opinion, the Director and the Care Coordinator’s actions were exactly what they accused the students of doing. They were bullying them with no recourse to defend themselves. I know that some parents have, or are planning to speak to our Commissioner of Education and Governor Jonathan Johnson regarding this issue.

Name withheld on request.

 

 

 

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9 comments

  1. I heres from my child that all them students was call in and threatened with jail by the principal and the Care teacher. Why he don’t call the parents? These girls is minors and a parent must be present.

    Wonder if Commissioner Johnson will sit quietly on this as this election time and again this happen under his eye.
    (Shortened by editor)

  2. Having read yet another incident that has occurred at SCS this year, I can’t help but wonder what is going on there. It seems like every month, there appears to be
    another media scandal. Over the past 6 months I can think of the following:

    – Students demonstration regarding the dismissal of their teachers
    – The previous Director speaking out against the board
    – The parents trying to arrange various meetings with the previous board regarding the future of the school ( I believe some of those meetings were cancelled at the last minute)
    – The new teachers being late to arrive on the island due to visa issues
    – The board members resigning form their positions
    – The questions regarding the new director and concerns regarding his experience
    – Further questions regarding the new teaching staffs credentials & experience
    – The development of the Saba Educational Foundation and the announcements of their meetings
    – The new Director stating rather unflattering things about the existing teaching staff
    – Questionable business trips to St. Eustatius for certain teachers
    – And now a story regarding the questionable suspension of students, intimidation tactics used to retrieve said information, and the rules regarding the rights of minors, which appear to have been completely ignored by the new Director and the Care Coordinator

    (I am sure I am missing a few topics)

    Therefore, I have to wonder why nothing has been done? The SCS is clearly not the school it used to be under the previous leadership.

    Commissioner Johnson we are all ears!

    (Shortened by editor)

  3. My child was one of the girls accused and told to write a letter by the principal and the care teacher on Monday morning. They was threatened with a letter from the police saying if they wasn’t being honest then they would spend the night in jail. Every time my child tries to speak up she is told to shut up. My child was eventually allowed to leave after being forced to stand for a time in the corner of the school as punishment before writing her side of the story. However nobody call me during this and I only finds out at the end of the school day. I am very angry abouts this. I am angry that police was involved before I was told abouts it. Next time this happen I will go to the police myself as no child should have to be treated like a criminal and she weren’t even involved. Nobody will ever treat my child like so.

  4. I agree with Saba Newspaper 100%. I’m certainly postive that the commissioner and others are fully aware of this, yet they don’t intend to do better for the students at the Saba Comprehensive School. Suspending students should be a complete NO, unless the situation took part on school compound! After all, what happens to one person goes for all. Those 2 students from Form 1 should be suspended also! Those students made over 6 fake accounts within 2 months! I find this extremely unfair! These 3 students did nothing, but showed the Form 1 students a lesson, which they should’ve seen coming from the beginning! Those SCS students from Form 3 are brilliant and they took full responsibility for their actions.

    Note editor: the comments presented to the posts are those of the writers. Saba News only checks the content published against our House Rules. PUBLICATION DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE AGREE WITH THE CONTENT OF THE MESSAGE. We only facilitate the possibility for individuals to express THEIR opinion. All views will be treated equally.

    • Bullying that happens at home or on the streets CONTINUES in school. If a child is threatened outside of school, does that threat suddenly disappear because they are at school? No, it does not. The fear, anger, and worry builds and continues, and teachers and educators SHOULD step in, especially if no other resolution is offered.
      Teachers and directors have the right to take action when bullying interferes with the social-climate of the school, and/or the well-being or academic performance of any student. What would happen if student A and student B (along with a few of their friends) were to meet in the bathroom and no adults were present? Maybe nothing.. but most likely something- either a verbal or physical attack. At least action was taken before something worse occurred. Children need consequences. However, having said that- ALL those in involved in the bullying should have been punished.

  5. Friend of Parents of SCS

    I would like to respond to Teacher’s comments.
    Bullying is something that we should all stop under all circumstances HOWEVER bully is not what caused parents to be angry.
    1. The children’s rights were violated. These are minors and because they are minors their parents are to be present when being questioned HOWEVER school management proceeded without parental approval or involvement.
    2. School management did their own bullying when they threatened the students.
    3. If something happens after school and off school premises that is not the school’s business but rather requires parental involvement.
    Teacher, it was terrific that the school wanted to stop the bullying but that is NOT what caused everyone’s anger. If you go out on a Saturday night and you see a child being served alcohol your responsibility is to call the police and report the establishment. You do not have the right to contact the child’s parents. Once you’ve reported the incident to the police your job is done. The police will handle the rest. The school has no power to then suspend the child on Monday.

  6. Teacher, I too believe that Bullying has no place in the school but when the school management bullies and threatens with the assistance of the Police, I ask you who is right and who is wrong in this instance? This reminds me of how dictatorships abuse the rights of their citizens with the threat of imprisonment and torture.

    My real concern is that no one has answered the question of whether or not the two ‘Original Perpetrators’ of this alleged Cyber-Bullying have been counseled or punished. It seems that what is ‘Good for the Goose is good for the Gander.’ In this case it would appear that the victims struck back and they have to pay but the ones who did the original ‘Bullying’ are walking away ‘Scott Free.

    One last thing. Teacher, do you threaten your students with punishment if they don’t tell the truth and if so how do you determine who is telling the whole truth? Of course the reality is that ‘She said, He said and so forth and so on’ and sometimes the real truth never comes out no matter how hard we try and no matter what promises or threats are made.

  7. Complaining on Facebook, Saba-News is one thing. When you take your complaint serious then go to the director of the school yourself, or to the board of the school and when you are not satisfied with the outcome then go to the inspectorate. You can use the on-line form that can be found on internet (unfortunately in Dutch only)
    http://www.onderwijsinspectie.nl/contactformulier

  8. From what I heard, a parent called the Police about this incident, not the school. And I heard this from a good source in the community.

    While the Form 1 girls are also wrong for setting up fake accounts, aren’t the Form 3 girls older and should know better? Instead of retaliating and setting up a fake account too, why didn’t they report it to parents, the school or the police themselves? I think we too often condone the actions of our youth, and wonder why they behave the way they do.

    People are questioning what is happening and making statements that nothing is happening with the Form 1 girls. However, some things that take place, such as counseling, are not public affairs. Therefore, people should not expect to be privy to every tidbit of information. I do not know that that is taking place, but it is what often results in a situation such as this.

    I’m reading about threats that were made to students. Facts about the reality of bullying and punishment that can result from bullying could be perceived as threats, but does not make them threats. I wasn’t there so can’t say that I personally know, which I’m sure all the commentators would have to say the same. However, if I tell a child that its wrong to steal, and you can go to jail for stealing, is that a threat or fact?

    Just my two cents…

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