Education Minister Anthony Garcia says it hasn't yet been determined whether the injuries suffered by a Mayaro Government Primary student on Wednesday resulted from bullying.
Garcia made the statement in Parliament yesterday in response to queries from Opposition MP Barry Padarath.
The nine-year-old Standard One student suffered a broken arm and underwent emergency surgery on his broken at the Sangre Grande Hospital on Thursday, after he was allegedly attacked by a bully. He had reconstructive surgery to his arm since his elbow socket was severely damaged.
His parents have claimed their son was cuffed, kicked and stomped upon in an unprovoked attack on their child.
Yesterday in Parliament, Padarath called on Garcia to say what anti-bullying measures were in place at local schools, given the severe injures the child suffered as a result of bullying.
However, Garcia said, "It has not yet been determined that the injuries suffered by this student are as result of bullying. We have in our possession a report from the principal who indicated there were two Standard One Students who were at play. We've asked the line supervisor to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and report to the Ministry by Monday (coming)."
Pressed by Padarath on what was being done in T&T schools to curb bullying, Garcia said the Education Act states that the responsibilities of principals and teachers is to preserve the safety of children.
"If they disregard that, there are certain measures that must be taken. But we cannot determine if the injury of the child is a result of bullying. I've made it clear that at the level of the Ministry of Education and schools system, we have adequate measures in place to deal with any infraction of discipline," Garcia said.
In light of the upsurge of bullying at schools, Padarath also asked Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to say whether Government intends to introduce urgent legislation dealing with parental responsibility.
Padarath had recently said it was time for a national dialogue on whether parents should be held accountable for their children's actions. He called on the Attorney General and Prime Minister to consider bringing to the Parliament a Parental Responsibility Act.
Replying on that in Parliament yesterday, Al-Rawi said,"The issue of parental responsibility is a complicated one. Under the Children's Act and Education Act, there is a mix of what parental responsibility means."
He said this involved responsibility for care and supervision and protection of the child. But he said Padarath's query involved the reverse - criminalising certain aspects. The issue of bullying was also complicated, he said, since it involved those below the age of being capable of committing a crime.