Editorial: School anti-bullying initiative leads the way

National Day against Bullying and Violence is on Friday, March 16. Photo: Morgan Patrick Kelly

National Day against Bullying and Violence is on Friday, March 16. Photo: Morgan Patrick Kelly

Friday, March 16, will be the National Day of Action (NDA) against Bullying and Violence, an opportunity for schools to highlight their everyday work to counter bullying and violence.

The initiative was formed in 2011 and has representatives from all states and territories, including the Catholic and independent schooling sectors.

The day is not only one in which schools stand united in combating bullying and violence, but it is also a reminder that a holistic and concerted approach by all stakeholders may be the best chance in reducing, if not stamping out, bullying in schools and in the wider community.

With bullying now prominent in the digital world, where it can occur from behind screens and with anonymity, such an approach, rather than schools’ individual approaches, is required.

Such an approach can respond to the fast-changing nature of technologies and help drive down the 10–20 per cent of Australian children and young people who were cyberbullied, as found by the Joint Selection Committee on Cyber-Safety in 2011.

Looking at the participating schools on the NDA list, Yass Valley has nearly all of its schools on it – a welcomed sight.

The high school is taking it one step further, hosting an anti-bullying session for parents on March 15.

While informing school students about the perils of bullying (on both the victims and the perpetrators) is always a positive step, adults and workplaces, too, should take proactive steps in conducting similar awareness programs.

National data by Safe Work Australia in 2014–15 showed that 39 per cent of mental disorder claims were caused by harassment, bullying or exposure to violence.

Infographic: workplace bullying and violence. Source: Safe Work Australia

Infographic: workplace bullying and violence. Source: Safe Work Australia

In the report Bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces: results from the Australian workplace barometer project 2014/2015, the nation had the sixth highest rate of workplace bullying when compared with 34 European countries.

The report’s findings suggested that self-reported bullying and harassment were common in Australian workplaces and were associated with poor psychological health.

Workplace policies and rudimentary training in the form of PowerPoint presentations count for little if our own actions show otherwise.

That old adage ‘leading by example’ should also be prominent on Friday, March 16 if we are to instil strong values into our children.

— TOBY VUE

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