By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A TEENAGE boy from Grand Bahama is assisting police with an investigation into an incident of alleged school bullying that was captured on cell phone video.
The Tribune spoke with the mother of a boy who said her son was a victim of bullying. She is upset about cell phone video showing a male student assaulting her son during school hours. In the video, other students can be heard egging on the boy’s attacker.
Persis Pinder claims her son, who attends the St Georges’ High School, has been a victim of repeated bullying and attacks which have been reported to school and Ministry of Education officials. She and her son filed an official police complaint at the Lucaya Police Station on Tuesday morning.
“This is not the first time my son has been attacked at the school,” she said, claiming that he was also assaulted four weeks prior to this latest incident which occurred in the school’s gymnasium.
In a 50-second long video, Ms Pinder’s son is seen sitting on school bleachers while a male student is standing behind him. Another male student who is recording the video says: “Boy, crack him, boy.”
The male student then punches Ms Pinder’s son in the back of the head and in his back before the two become involved in a full on altercation exchanging blows while several male students watch, with some egging on the attack. Her son is seen raising his hands giving up, and telling the other boy to stop.
Ms Pinder said she was very disturbed when she saw the video of the student hitting her son.
“I feel there is no one to protect these children in the schools,” complained Ms Pinder, who fears the outcome could have been worse.
She recalled incidents where students were stabbed and killed in government schools or near their premises, particularly in New Providence.
“We send our children to a war zone. Clearly, in the video there are no adults there supervising those children. This has been going on since last year with my son being bullied at that school,” she claimed.
“I made several contacts at the school in reference to the bullying,” she said earlier this week, adding she got no satisfaction after making her complaints. “I also went to the Ministry of Education to make contact with the Superintendent Ivan Butler, and left message there with his secretary, and to this day I did not get a return call from those people. So, it is like they don’t care. I feel like my son is a target and no one cares.”
“I have a problem and I am calling on the Ministry of Education to address this type of stuff. Why is my kid being bullied and everyone is taking it lightly?
“I have been to the Ministry of Education and they took my name and number four weeks ago, and nothing. They don’t even acknowledge it. I make sure to pick up my son on time after school so they would not attack him outside the school, but he was attacked while supposedly being under the watchful eye of a teacher.”
Ms Pinder claimed that bullying happened to other students too.
“I am saying to parents speak up because my son is not the only child this happened to. There is a rule that kids are not allowed to have cell phones in school. However, there was a cell phone being used by a student who was cheering on the aggressor. And he used the phone to record my son being bullied [for jokes] - I am very upset,” she said.
When The Tribune contacted Superintendent Ivan Butler at the Ministry of Education, he said officials do not condone bullying. He also noted that he was made aware of an incident that occurred at St Georges’ and that the situation is being dealt with at the school level.
He stated that during a visit at the school on Tuesday morning, the principal had informed him of the incident, however, he was not aware of any other prior incidents of bullying.
“The principal of the school showed me a video of an incident that happened at the school. This is a very difficult situation because this woman is quite known to the Ministry of Education in going to the media,” said Mr Butler.
When asked about bullying at the school, he said: “We do not condone bullying. I was at the school and the principal shared with me an incident that took place that involved her son and the principal was dealing with it at the school level. And that is where most incidents of this nature would happen. So, if anything happened at the school the principal is the first [to deal with it]. If she is not satisfied with what the principal recommended or did, then the next course of action would be my office.”
Mr Butler stated that he had not received any prior complaints from Ms Pinder concerning prior incidents of bullying involving her son.
“I saw her this morning [Tuesday] at the school and she did not say anything to me about it,” he said.
Efforts to reach the school principal proved fruitless up to press time.