Principals claim bullying under control at high schools
Bullying is happening in the government high schools, however it is under control, according to the school principals who spoke to Samoa News, saying their school is pro-active, meaning they act on it right away, when acts of bullying are identified.
Tafuna High School says they get about 3 cases a week, Leone High School at least two cases a week, while Fagaitua High School and Nu’uuli Vocational Technical High School note that there are hardly any such cases, but when it happens, they take it very seriously.
TAFUNA HIGH SCHOOL
Bullying occurs at Tafuna High School (THS), but not as much compared to the previous years, says principal Lentoy Matagi. “Currently we have three cases of bullying a week, at the most and we deal with it immediately. We don’t wait until later because bullying is not tolerated at Tafuna High School whatsoever” said Matagi.
She said the older students usually pick on the freshmen because they’re new to the school.
“The only method used to deal with bullies is counseling, which is provided by the counselors; also we have to find the ‘chemistry’ of each student in order to work with them. It’s not an easy task, but it’s part of our job. When the student comes to school we are the teacher, the parent and the counselor— all at the same time.”
She said first they check the student records — and usually it’s the same student repeating the same behavior.
“We explore our options. If the student continues to bully other students, and there is nothing left to do, then we act and remove that student or bully to another environment, for the safety of the other students and teachers”.
Matagi explained that THS had cases of physical and psychological bullying, sometimes over the phone and on Facebook and they have escalated into violence. “When there’s negative remarks made by one student to another student, I would always ask the victim to not delete it, but file a complaint with police and let them deal with the bully. That is another way to target these bullies in schools”.
LEONE HIGH SCHOOL
Leone High School (LHS) Principal Li’amatua Haili Ripley said they come across at least two cases of bullying a week, and because it is a problem that builds up, “we act on it right away, because something has to be done to prevent it — to stop bullies as early as possible.”
He said the main focus is not letting bullies jeopardize the safety of the students. He explained that bullying can consist of physical abuse or verbal abuse, such as taunting, and because every student has a different background, “we have to come up with a different approach for each student that bullies around the school.”
Li’amatua said LHS deals with bullying by counseling the students. “If it’s the first time a student is brought into the office, we provide counseling. “If it happens again, then the parents are called in, and if the student continues to be a bully, we seek help from government agencies like the Department of Human and Social Services. We don’t give up on the student; eventually they learn that bullying is not tolerated and they stop”.
He said counselors are not the only ones who do counseling, that teachers are counseling students as well... it’s part of teaching.
“Teachers have to multi-task and be prepared to handle different tasks, they have to be part of the solution” he said.
The LHS Principal commended the Department of Education for implementing ways to deal with bullying within the schools.
He said that some students make jokes, or hit one another thinking it’s just a game, because they are unaware that what they’re doing is bullying.
He said that in the past, running around and hitting each other was never labeled as bullying.
“Some students just like to test the grounds of another student by making remarks which can lead to violence. We don’t appreciate these acts and we talk to the students as parents — we talk to them — we don’t talk down to them, and this approach helps”, said Li’amatua.
The LHS principal said they have banners on the school premises that say, “Bullying is not tolerated in school”.
FAGAITUA HIGH SCHOOL
Principal Samasoni Asaeli of Fagaitua High School says there are hardly any bullying cases at Fagaitua. Speaking with Samoa News, he said once in a while they would encounter bullying in school and this is the outcome of a daily reminder to the students that this type of behavior is not allowed in the school.
“Fagaitua High School does not have many cases of bullying; but it’s a serious matter and we have Liza Maria Tuato’o, who’s a counselor that works specifically with these types of cases”, said Asaeli. He added that so far his students are doing a great job, working with each other and not picking on one another.
NU’UULI VOCATIONAL TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL
Principal for Nu’uuli Vocational Technical High School, Saouila Kava said it’s seldom if any cases of bullying are reported to the office, if so, it could be minor forms of bullying like trying to start a fight, etc. But not in a way that student(s) are taunting students to fear for their lives, she said.
“We have addressed the issue of Bullying in School at the beginning of the school year with our staff and students,” she said. “Training has been provided for our counselors and information disseminated to our staff by DOE and perhaps the reason being is that NVTHS is rather a smaller school compared to our other local Public High Schools and the students get along with others.”
She added that this is not to say that NVTHS does not have their share of discipline or behavioral problems.
“What may be considered as bullying among our own peers may be construed by our students as playing a game or having fun in a teasing manner”, said Kava. She went on saying their administration is always visible on campus and look out for the students throughout the school day.
Kava said the students have been counseled that Bullying in School is unacceptable form of behavior and if students feel they are being bullied they can report this to any of our school counselors or administrators.
SAMOANA HIGH SCHOOL AND AS-DOE
Efforts to reached the Samoana High School principal for comments were unsuccessful, while the local Department of Education (DOE) could not identify to Samoa News who is in charge of any anti-bullying program or dissemination of such information in the high schools.