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Study shows words hurt


In the past, it was believed that sticks and stones could break one’s bones, but words could never hurt.

However, a survey conducted recently revealed that, in fact, words hurt, and that they were the cause of much of the anger displayed by secondary school students in Barbados.

The survey was performed by Crime Stoppers Barbados with the backing of The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust. Under the Crime Stoppers Barbados Youth Project, 1,450 students participated in the investigation titled Reactions To Anger And Conflict In Secondary Schools. 

The students, ages 11 to 18, came from the Grantley Adams Secondary, Princess Margaret Secondary, Graydon Sealy Secondary and Frederick Smith Secondary schools.

Crime Stoppers executive director Devrol Dupigny, who presented a brief summary of the 38–page report to an audience of participants and officials from the Ministry of Education this morning at the St Leonard’s Boys’ School in Richmond Gap, St Michael, said the findings uncovered that 52 per cent of all students got angry as a result of name-calling.

What stood out most, he said, was that both male and female contributors across the board identified this as the main issue that they faced daily. Recounting an incident between his children when the younger, in an angry rage, called the older a bad name, Dupiny stressed it was very easy for insults to grow and cause irritability.

“What we are trying to do is really pin down the areas our children are facing conflict and where they are getting angry. Those reports will be given to the principals so that the principals would have an idea of what is taking place at the various form levels within their schools; so that, hopefully, further interventions could be done in that regard.

“What this really has told us is that we need to address [this] and work with the ministry and other stakeholders about that issue of name-calling. We need to be very aware of how name-calling can start, and how it can take root . . . ,” he said.

Another area of concern was the level of sexual abuse with the students. Statistics show that some 20 per cent of them indicated they were dealing with issues of sexual abuse, and this too led to anger.

When questioned on the things that they would do when they get angry, most of our students, 63 per cent, said they would curse when comfronted by an issue, 54 per cent responded that they would fight, 34 per cent reacted by hitting something, and 33 per cent sought revenge.

Some of the other things which got them angry were mistreatment (being pushed on the bus or when getting a seat on the bus –– 47 per cent).

Dupigny noted that when asked about the awareness of criminal activity, it was good to see that 63 per cent of the children said they would report criminal activity to the police, 58 per cent indicated they would tell a guidance counsellor, teacher or parent, and an alarming 24 per cent said they would turn a build eye. In terms of the consequences, if you do not control your anger, 61 per cent said they would resort to fighting because they did not know how to control anger; 48 per cent said it could lead to injury or loss of life; and nine per cent indicated the really didn’t care what happened. (KC) 

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