National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence
It was important that in our busy STAGGFAIR preparation we pause to stand together on Friday 16 March to acknowledge the important message of the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. This day is Australia’s key anti-bullying event for schools and in 2018, schools were called to imagine a world free from bullying and to share their ‘big ideas’. At the Garnsey campus, the SRC created a chain of messages to represent a united student voice against bullying. We hope that this will be part of a new conversation and action to stop bullying at Gippsland Grammar.
Involvement in this day, along with the Respectful Relationships Initiative, brings with it many new resources and information for our community. I would like to share some information for parents today and pledge that it is our aim to work with parents and students to stop bullying. At our School, we aim to create a safe and supportive community for everyone. Sometimes, it can be difficult for parents or carers to know what to do when their child talks to them about bullying; I want parents to understand that you are an important part of our work to prevent bullying and to respond effectively if it happens. Stopping bullying involves everyone.
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying. However, these conflicts still need to be addressed and resolved.
The national statistics on bullying are frightening.
Approximately one in four Year 4 to Year 9 Australian students (27%) reported being bullied every few weeks or more.
In 87% of bullying interactions, peers are present as onlookers and play a central role in the bullying process.
Enhancing social status with peers is the most commonly reported motivator for bullying.
Students 10 to 15 years of age are the most likely to be involved in online bullying.
If your child talks to you about bullying:
1. Listen calmly and get the full story. Your calm response is important to allow your child to tell you all about the situation. After they have told you their story, ask questions to get more details if you need to: who, what, where, when. Although you may feel some strong emotions about your child’s experience, try to keep calm to avoid more distress to your child.
2. Reassure your child they are not to blame. Many children blame themselves and this may make them feel even worse. You could say things like, ‘That sounds really hard to deal with. No one should have to put up with that.’ or ‘I’m so glad you told me. You should be able to feel safe; that’s not fair at all’.
3. Ask your child what they want to do and what they want you to do. A critical part of your response is to avoid jumping in to solve the problem. While it is natural to want to protect your child, helping them to find their own solution is a better option. It helps them feel they have some power in the situation.
4. Visit www.bullyingnoway.gov.au to find some strategies. The website has tips and ideas for different bullying situations. One idea is to practise strategies at home to help your child feel more confident.
5. Contact us at School. Your child may be reluctant for you to do this, so discuss the idea and reassure them that the School would want to know and is able to help. Make an appointment to meet with your child’s Mentor and, if you need to, ask to talk with the Head of Year; I am always happy to talk about these issues with parents and students. Please contact the School immediately if you have a concern about your child’s safety.
6. Check in regularly with your child. Keep the conversation going; it can take time to resolve issues, so check in regularly with your child about their experiences and their feelings. Your ongoing support is important.
If you are looking for support for yourself to deal with a bullying situation, you will find ideas on the Bullying. No Way! website for parents. As well, please contact the School if you would like to discuss any aspect of our approach to preventing bullying.
Thank you for your support to make Gippsland Grammar a safe school where there is no bullying and a great school for everyone.
I look forward to celebrating our School community at STAGGFAIR on Sunday … see you there!