School Yard Bullying And How to Prevent It
Bullying continues to plague Australian schoolyards daily and has now become a social issue facing 1 in 5 school children. It is reported that 162,000 children don’t attend school in Australia daily because of the fear of being bullied. Bullying often begins during later years in primary school, peaks in middle years at secondary school and is often less prominent during latter years i.e. year 11 and 12.
Bullying no longer ends at the school gates and can occur anywhere, anytime as cyber bullying is now the second most common form of bullying in Australia. Bullying now occurs in our homes, workplaces, social settings making it difficult to trace and monitor.
Often bullying behaviour is learned there is no bullying DNA and bullies often take out their own problems on others. Bullies underestimate their actions and some may come to believe their behaviour is acceptable and normal. Often consistent bullying behaviour is aassociated with other forms of anti-social behavior or aggression. Bullying is more likely to be learned in the home and adult bullies may have experienced the behaviour their social settings i.e. home, schoolyard, sporting club or community group. It’s the responsibility of the community, our educators, parents and community to mentor, coach, train and teach our children at an early age to be assertive, to speak up and have a zero tolerance.
What Can Adults Do To Support Their Child From Bullying?
- Encourage family discussions to unearth and resolve identified issues.
- Young people who receive high parental support, report fewer bullying issues as they feel confident to discuss problems thus parents should have open dialogue and ask questions that encourage interest and discussion for instance:
- Who did you play with today?
- Who did you have your lunch with?
- What is 1 important thing you learned today?
- How many new friends did you make?
- What’s 1 positive thing you did today?
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- Would you like help with your homework?
- Students should feel comfortable to admit being bullied.
- Early intervention is important and parents may notice key symptoms or signs.
- Parents should encourage their child to take action, speak up, ask for help and discuss issues openly.
- The bully prefers the victim to keep quiet as this is often their way of maintaining control.
- Discuss your children’s friendships and who they’re regularly engaging with.
- Children should not be encouraged to join a group for the sake of being cool or popular but rather consolidate friendships with others they feel supportive and comfortable with emotionally and socially.
- Educate your child the values of respect, diversity, tolerance, integrity, manners, social integration, acceptance, empathy, resilience and assertiveness.
What Can A Teacher Do If They Witness Bullying?
- Teachers owe a duty of care to protect the safety of their students.
- Teachers and the school have a duty to respond and control the bullying behaviour if perpetrated at school or if the cyber bullying is perpetrated by students outside the school.
- Negligence is a failure to not take reasonable care for the safety of persons to whom a duty is owed.
- Teachers should ensure their class is “bully free” – children learn behaviour through others.
- Being exposed to aggressive behaviour (at home) or in overly strict environments makes children more prone to behave this way at school.
- Teachers should look for self-esteem issues, children with low self-esteem often bully others to feel better.
- Modelling positive examples for their students and taking immediate action should ensure consistency is maintained.
- Discussion with the victim, bystander and perpetrator should be documented, noted and reported.
- If necessary contact with the parent/s should be made to inform them of the situation or any issues that may have an impact on the situation.
- Observe and look for signs – some students aren’t vocal while others may not be reading social signs and may not be aware their behaviour is bullying and hurtful.
- Look for ripped clothing.
- Hesitation about being at school.
- Student may lack friendship groups.
- Sudden decline in results.
- Lacks self-confidence and esteem.
- Not eating at recess/lunch.
- Constant crying.
- General depression and anxiety.
- Parents complaining.
- Reassure you will help and support until action can be taken.
Teachers could ask those involved in a bullying situation:
- What happened?
- When did it happen?
- Who was involved?
- Where did it happen?
- Did anyone else see it happen?
- What type of behaviour occurred?
- Did a bystander intervene?
- Has it happened before?
Bully Zero Australia Foundation offers informative sessions to teachers, workplaces, sporting club and community groups.
Common Courtesy And Respect
It’s our responsibility to educate children at a young age that regardless of their religious, cultural, ethnic, or sexual backgrounds, we should treat each other the way we like to be treated. If we fail in our endeavours then the schoolyard bully of today could potentially be the homophobic, workplace, cyber bully of tomorrow.
Bullying is no longer just a school or workplace issue. A holistic approach to responding to bullying is the Foundations mission.