Premier Natalio Wheatley has posited that many Virgin Islands natives choose to remain abroad after completing their studies because of the culture of negativity that persists among members of the community.
“When you go to the United States, you meet a whole lot of people from the Virgin Islands
. Part of the reason why persons go to school and don’t come back is because they feel the Virgin islands
is so negative and they want to escape the negativity and go to a place where no one knows them,” the Premier explained. “Sometimes we’re so nasty to each other that some people just can’t wait to get on a plane, leave and never come back.”
The Premier was speaking at a recent forum on cyberbullying that was mainly attended by students across the territory. He said that negativity is most prevalent in the local social media circles where some are subjected to cyberbullying that even causes them to contemplate suicide.
The Premier told students that he is a constant victim of cyberbullying, adding that residents on various online platforms or “blogs”, usually hurl insults at him.
“You go on the blogs and people calling me “Slowande” – who could really call me Slowande?” Premier Wheatkey questioned. “I’m fine with it because my skin is very thick. But some persons when they see their names on a news story or something going around in a WhatsApp group about them – some of these persons actually contemplate suicide. Some go into depression, they can’t eat, sleep, they don’t want to go to school and it’s a big challenge in society.”
The Premier urged the youth to be careful when using social media platforms, especially when using information about others. He reminded the students that under the Cybercrime and Computer Misuse Act, there are consequences for spreading false information in the community.
“I see it being violated all the time and there are very serious consequences. You’re talking about $200,000 and $400,000 fines based on what you do on your phone that you may not know is a crime. We’ve had persons in the Virgin Islands
charged under this Act in the past so I want you to educate yourself,” Premier Wheatley said before urging students to practice more love when interacting with each other.