Addressing students of the Richmond Street Boys Primary and St Catherine’s Girls’ Primary Schools at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-of-Spain yesterday during a service for their guidance and protection, Thomas- Felix said about child sexual harassment, “I know in Trinidad and Tobago, we try not to talk about it because we are uncomfortable, but it is there.
“If that happens to be you, and you cannot speak to your mother and your father, go to your teacher, or principal of the school.
“It is very, very important to tell them.” She urged the teachers to be receptive to the children’s concerns because “Sometimes what children say, is not what the problem is. Some children give you all the problems in the world because there is another problem which the child is not addressing.” Thomas-Felix told the students they were at the age to start dreaming and determining what they want to be.
However, she said they could only achieve what they want by studying hard, doing their homework on time and becoming the best students they could be.
Noting that bullying was a problem in schools, she asked the children how they felt about being bullied.
They said they felt “sad, and hurt.” “For those of you being bullied,” she said, “find a responsible adult - teacher, mother, father or grandparents - so they could put an end to what is going on.” Filming fights in schools and posting it on the social website Facebook for all to see and laugh at, she said, was mean and a form of bullying.
If a fight was taking place in their school, Thomas-Felix said, students have a duty to inform an adult in the school. “I don’t want to tell you to part the fight because you might end up being beaten. Taking out your phone and filming it, is a nono,” she said.
Another issue of concern, she said, was the fuss that children make over their school shoes.
Noting that she presided in the juvenile court for five years, she said, “I know about the shoes thing because I have had to send people to YTC (the Youth Training Centre), because they did not want to wear the Rattan’s sneakers their parents bought for them.” They did not want to wear the sneakers, she noted, because their friends would bully them for wearing them when it was the only thing their mothers could afford.
“Your shoes do not determine how bright you are and who you will become. As a matter of fact, everybody’s shoes go on the ground, whether they are a Rattan’s or a Nike,” she said.