In the thesis "Bullying, Victimization and Delinquency in Primary Schools in Trinidad and Tobago: Some Preliminary Results," the author (Lall 2007) examined how primary school students behave (specifically, what is their level of involvement in bullying, victimization, juvenile delinquency and class disruption), and what type of social, psychological, academic and related competencies they exhibit (that is, how they think, feel and behave).
Bullying is described as "an act whereby a person or group of persons seek to induce fear by, among other things, a complex range of harassment, teasing, exercise an abuse of power, control or privilege over another person or persons by physical, verbal or emotional forms of aggression over time" (Lall 2007).
After having examined the international literature and research findings, (Lall 2007) found that some of the consequences of being a bully include further involvement in crime/delinquency during the school years and into adulthood, inability to maintain positive and healthy relationships, family ties and social networks. Also, many victims stay home or do not attend school or become truants since they fear being bullied at school and many are afraid to indicate to their parents and teachers for fear of further victimization. According to author, this is a very unhealthy state of affairs for young children who should be utilizing their time to develop their skills and concentrate on their schooling.
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"Victimization (also referred to in the literature as bullying and teasing) has been described as an unprovoked attack that causes hurt of a psychological, social or physical nature (Smith 1991). These behaviors have social, academic and psychological consequences that impact the well being of both the victim and the bully (Casey-Cannon, Hayward and Gowen 2001).
(Lall 2007) argued that we are seeing more school shootings in Trinidad and Tobago, also increasing acts of sexual deviance, substance use and abuse (that is, use of illegal drugs, smoking, drinking alcohol), students going to school armed with weapons (example, guns, knives, cutlasses) and wounding or physical assaults or stabbing with intent (many ending in death in and outside of the formal school settings). The author further argues that these trends would seem likely to spiral if early intervention and prevention strategies by policy makers and school management are not put in place now.
This research was conducted in Trinidad and Tobago in which the author utilized a total sample of five hundred and eighty-nine (589) Standard three primary school students between the ages of nine to eleven (9-11). In this thesis (Lall 2007) applied five independent measures that included: (i) school readiness and comfort, (ii) academic performance, (iii) occupational aspirations, (iv) fear of victimization and bullying and (v) a social psychological profile. The dependent measure was the student's involvement in violence and delinquency.
The author utilized a quantitative research methodology, more specifically a survey design whereby questionnaires were administered to the students via self report. In order to have a benchmark with regard to the extent of bullying, victimization and juvenile delinquency, students were asked to indicate (via self report) (i) what was their level of fear of being bullied or victimized at school, at home and in their community or district where they lived, (ii) their own involvement in delinquency which a twelve-item Violence and Delinquency Scale was administered, (iii) whether they had been subjected to any bullying or victimization for the particular school term and (iv) to indicate their own involvement in classroom disruption.
The author however, did not specify which procedure was used in obtaining the participants for the study, thus, the procedure in which the participants and sample size were selected were not specified. As a result of such, it would be difficult to highlight the shortcomings of this process (that is, the selection of participants and procedure in selecting the sample size) because it was not outlined.
Some shortcomings in utilizing a quantitative method to gather data through the use of questionnaires via self report, is that it may be expensive, time consuming and in-depth information regarding the students behavior could not be obtained (this includes reasons why students engaged in delinquent acts).
Evidence of Thesis Support
The author's findings with regard to the extent of bullying, victimization and juvenile delinquency in the primary school system is as follows. The findings indicated that 20% of the sample felt fear of being bullied or victimized. This situation has to be addressed in an attempt to alleviate the conditions leading to this type of environment (Lall 2007). Data also indicated that girls expressed a greater fear of being bullied or victimized than boys, which reflects the existence of a gender differential on students' fear of being bullied and victimized.
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In addition, data indicated that 18% of the sample said they were sexually molested (fondled), interfered with, 49% were pushed/taken advantage of/picked on, 50% said they were wrongfully punished by a teacher and 58% said they were wrongfully punished by their parent/guardian and majority of the students 62% said they were cursed/insulted for no reason. According to the author, the issue of sexual molestation is a bit too high for comfort at the primary school level as well, with equal proportions in responses being noted (total sample 18%, boys 19% and girls 16%).
In terms of student behavior, majority of the sample 69% admitted that they had to be spoken to at least once a day by their teacher, while 31% said they "never" had to be spoken to by their teacher about their behavior in class. Yet again, boys outweigh the girls with 77% of the boys admitting that their teachers have to speak to them at least once per day about their behavior in class, while for girls it was 59%.
From the total sample, the author found that 2% of the students admitted to using illegal drugs, with 7% smoking cigarettes, 17% said they stole something at least once, 19% skipped school/class, 26% fought using a weapon and a similar proportion- 27% said they used force to get something, while 44% got into trouble for not doing homework. Also, 45% of the students said they drank alcohol, 46% said they "disobeyed/answered back their parents." Most alarming, 64% admitted to being involved, and of equal concern is the 66% who said they had "disobeyed/answered back their teachers" during the last six months.
The data suggest a trend regarding primary school students' involvement in violence and delinquency and their potential for future involvement in such negative activities (Lall 2007). The evidence from data collected and analyzed was substantially supported and reflected by the author through international research which shows that a strong link exists between substance abuse delinquency, crime and violence. It is well documented that involvement in these behaviors creates the pathway for the use of harder drugs, further youth deviance/delinquency and adult criminality (Lall 2007). The use of such substances is related to several other forms of delinquent behavior, for example, gang involvement, truancy, school dropout, stealing, bullying and victimization, burglary, vandalism, alcohol and drug law violations, drug stealing, physical violence, firearm offences, running away from home (Lall 2007).
The author's thesis was therefore supported and reflected by numerous researches which were highlighted in her article, some of which included (Barreuta-Clement, et al. 1987) (Farrington 1987) (Loeber and Dishion, Early Predictors of Male Delinquency: A Review 1983) (Spivak and Cianci 1987) and (Yoshikawa 1995).
Contribution to the Literature
This article seek to provide a module for extending this research into the wider Caribbean region for comparative analysis, cross cultural comparisons and database building (Lall 2007). The results obtained from the study indicated the need for a more comprehensive study in which the cognitive, emotional and behavioral development of students can be traced after graduating from ECCE centres throughout the primary school stages (Lall 2007). As a result of such, a nationwide evaluation aimed to assist in the development and expansion thrust in the early childhood care and education sector was pursued by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the author, it would also help to clarify whether students' involvement in violence and delinquency is a matter of reaction versus initiating behavior, and not so much a negative statement as to the impact of the early childhood care and education they would have received before entering primary school.
The study also laid the foundation for conducting small focus group sessions with a sub-sample of the Standard three primary school students obtained in the survey which was proposed by the author in order to obtain, among other things, more in-depth information regarding their behaviors and plans for the future. Such of which would be an informative exercise which would help understand the students' reasons or justification for their use of illegal drugs, smoking and alcohol, and their involvement in the other types of violent and delinquent behaviors. Moreover, in doing so, the author will be able to gauge then whether the findings are transitional (development) behaviors or stable patterns for consistent expression throughout the life course. It would also help shed light on the school environment and students' experiences within. For example, much of the hitting and fighting with weapons may be retaliation to victimization or bullying and the need for self protection as expressed by the author, results of which is confirmed in other research such as (Deosaran, Benchmarking Violence and Delinquency in the Secondary School: Towards A Culture of Peace and Civility 2006).
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Furthermore, early assessment, intervention and prevention strategies can therefore be guided more appropriately so as to reduce school violence and delinquency starting at the early childhood care and education programme level. This present study according to the author thus provides a very useful database for present comparisons and as well to help guide future work.
Altogether, in this new wave of expansion and development of the early childhood and the education sector, generally by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, this study hence provides a timely database for comparisons and may help guide such expansion and future evaluations (Lall 2007).
The author should have utilized the mixed method procedure instead of just quantitative procedures. Separate quantitative and qualitative methods are used as a means to offset the weaknesses inherent within one method with strengths of the other. Both methods occur in one phase of the study and equal weight is placed between the two studies or methods. The advantage of employing such method is that it can result in well-validated and substantiated findings (Creswell J.W., 2007).