CHARTING COURSE: How do we intend to deal with bullying?

What is bullying exactly? But also, what isn't it? What are the distinctions between an argument, a disagreement, a one-off thoughtless or mean action—the type of conflict that arises in schools from time to time and requires resolution—and bullying behaviour?

These were some of the questions we looked at on the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on March 16.

The day launched our BAC #choosekind culture campaign. Inspired by the movie Wonder, #choosekind raises awareness about bullying and focuses on the kind of culture we wish to nurture here at BAC. It allows us to develop a common language and shared meaning around bullying so that we can have real conversations and respond effectively when bullying occurs with the goal of ultimately preventing it.

WHAT IS BULLYING?

The ‘signatures’ of bullying are repetition, power and harm. It is not a once-off, specific incident. The national definition of bullying for Australian schools describes it this way “Bullying is 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).”

Types of bullying include:

1.     cyberbullying, and/or
2.     verbal bullying, and/or
3.     physical bullying

HOW PREVALENT IS BULLYING IN AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS?

According to anti-bullying speaker and online safety expert Johnny Shannon, 75 percent of the bullying in schools is not recognised as bullying, but seen as teasing or having fun; 60 percent of Australian bullying occurs online; 84 percent of Australian students will experience bullying in their school career; 27 percent of Australian students will experience frequent bullying; and the top three things bullies target are appearance, sexuality, and disability.

HOW WILL WE DRAW ATTENTION TO OUR MESSAGE AGAINST BULLYING AND VIOLENCE?

The National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence included school assemblies and classroom awareness activities and resources. Guest speakers for Primary and Secondary chapels were invited to take an age-appropriate look at bullying generally, and cyberbullying specifically. This was the catalyst for our #choosekind culture campaign in which we intend to get real about bullying, and break down the power surrounding it, including the social pressures students may feel to remain silent.

STUDENT WELLBEING TEAM (SWoT)

Since the commencement of Restorative Practice, a whole school approach to conflict resolution, we have added another team devoted to school culture and wellbeing. Called the SWoT team, or Student Wellbeing Team, this group of devoted professionals leads our College in a concerted, P-12 longterm strategy against bullying. They provide strategic personal development opportunities for students and recently commenced a #choosekind campaign as you can see in this video where one of our College chaplains, Pastor JP, is talking to the Primary students. The goal of the SWoT team is to foster an open and respectful culture, where each person is recognised as an individual with unique and specific needs. Through their interactions, they show students exactly what supporting each other looks like.

When there is conflict or a disciplinary issue, the SWoT team slots neatly in with the Restorative Practice team to help or give advice about how best to meet the needs of each person involved.

The team consists of:

1.     Stef De Campo (school counsellor)
2.     Annalise Linsday (chaplain)
3.     JP Martinez (chaplain)
4.     Denis Matthews (Secondary Restorative Practice coordinator)
5.     Ryan Vogel (Primary Restorative Practice coordinator)

If you have any questions about this campaign or Bullying. No Way! Day, please contact us on enquiries@bac.qld.edu and a member of our Student Wellbeing Team will provide you with more information.

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS 

  1. Anti-bullying expert Johnny Shannon writes a blog dealing with many of the issues around bullying and online bullying. In the article Bullying/Cyber Bullying: Six Walk Through Steps To Stop a Bully, you will find an infographic with the statistics quoted in this article. Please see other articles here— http://jonnyshannon.com/articl...
  2. Empowered for Life by Jocelyne Chirnside is a book outlining how parents, teachers and communities can equip children to deal with everyday conflict and bullying. You can order it here: https://empoweringlifeskills.com.au/book-and-resources/ (Can be ordered on Kindle.)
  3. Bullying. No Way! is a government resource for schools and parents to stamp out bullying and violence in schools.

AUTHOR: Principal Leanne Entermann writes a series of articles called Charting Course in which she talks about topics important to the future direction of the College.