JUSTIN Francis was ten years old when his left eye was punctured with a pencil during an instance of school violence in Port of Spain, three years ago.
Last Tuesday, the Anti-Bullying Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ABATT) and Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan donated $6,000 to help with Francis’s medical treatment in the United States.
The donation was made at the launch of an anti-bullying campaign at Seepersad-Bachan’s San Fernando West constituency office.
The boy’s mother, Alana Francis, said the incident happened in March 2011 on the school compound and that her son was stuck with a pencil in the left eye after he “accidentally” knocked over a project the aggressor was working on.
She said her family’s life was threatened by the family of her son’s attacker and she was forced to transfer Francis to another school.
The woman said her son now has limited vision in the injured eye and corrective surgery is planned.
ABATT president and 2013 Junior Soca Monarch Jeromy Rodriguez said the project was particularly important to him since his older sister was also a victim of bullying.
Rodriguez said he would like Education Minister Dr Tim Goopeesingh to join ABATT to combat the problem.
“At my school, Cowen Hamilton College, we don’t have a lot of bullying taking place there, but I know of stories from other schools. Our project has been successful so far,” said Rodriguez.
He said the formation of anti-bullying clubs in schools could help.
Seepersad-Bachan said the plan was to tackle 23 primary schools in San Fernando, starting with San Fernando Boys’ and Girls’ Anglican Schools.
She said it is no longer one boy or one girl being terrorised or ostracised, or a gang of children making life miserable for others.
Seepersad-Bachan said bullying has manifested through cyber-bullying, office bullying, peer bullying and even bullying by parents.
Also at the launch was Police Insp Michael Maurice, representative from the Ministry of Education Clare Telemaque and Minister in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development Sen Raziah Ahmed.