Implementing School Safety/Anti-Bullying Programs at Your School
Addressing school bullying in New Zealand and Australia is important, not only because it helps improve the lives
Addressing school bullying in New Zealand and Australia is important, not only because it helps improve the lives of your students today, but also because it improves the lives of students for many years down the road. Research shows that victims of prolonged bullying are more likely to become withdrawn or aggressive, and, in some cases, suicidal or violent. Research also shows that schools that have a unified violence prevention program cut their incidents of violence in half. In other words, established anti-bullying programs do work, which is why it’s time you implement a program at your school. But how can New Zealand and Australian schools stand up to bullying? Standing up to bullying requires more than just the due diligence of your staff. That’s why the most successful school safety seminars and workshops try to involve students, teachers/staff, as well as parents. Students Students are quite literally at ground-zero when it comes to bullying. It’s important that your school anti-bullying program give your students the ability to recognize different forms of bullying. Students should also learn how group dynamics can lead to bullying, and how bystanders can safely prevent bullying. As the student population of New Zealand and Australia are constantly changing, it’s important to integrate this program into the fabric of your school-wide curriculum. Teachers/staff Your staff should learn the skills necessary to reduce bullying within their own specific environment. Chiefly, they should learn how to incorporate an anti-bullying environment into their existing programs.
While school safety programs in Australia focus on the environment at school, much of the bullying grows and transpires off school grounds. It’s not enough for school administrators to say “We took care of our backyard. Our work is done.” Involving parents into this school-wide anti-bullying program will help children see that all of the adults in their lives, from janitors to coaches and parents/guardians, are united against bullying. Parents can learn how to help their children make good friends as well as how to implement the skills they learned in school, at home.
A positive change when everyone is involved
Battling a bully-riddled school environment requires far more than detentions, a workshop, and a pledge by your student body and staff. It involves a change in culture and climate, which requires the commitment of an entire community. When all parties become invested in the process, and actively speak out and stand up against bullying, then changes will take place. While bullying peaks during middle school in Australia and New Zealand, it can begin as early as preschool. With the use of social media nowadays, it’s also no longer just happening in the school yard or playground. School bullying occurs 24/7 with online bashing. There once was a time when parents could tell if their child was bullied because of a black eye or torn pants. Now, with cyber bullies, the damages are less physically revealing, yet still just as damaging, if not even more damaging. Even though bullying has increased in its frequency, statistics show that it still mostly occurs – in fact overwhelmingly occurs – when adults are not present. This means that a school safety program will help staff and parents learn how to remain constantly vigilant and observant of their surroundings. This type of vigilance will help to reduce the frequency of bullying while also demonstrating to victims that there are people to turn to if something should happen.
Bullying is not “normal”
Just because something happens often, and happened when we were younger, doesn’t make it normal, or a “rite of passage.” Bullying has never been a positive or healthy moment of a child’s life. Many adults turn a blind eye, and mutter the dangerous phrase “Kids will be kids.” But as kids, our children need to be taught a certain set of skills to become productive members of society. That type of skill set isn’t innate, nor genetic. It’s a skill set they learn by the “monkey see, monkey do” phenomenon. If we continue to ignore the problems that exist, our children will learn to do the same, and the cycle will never end. One of the first steps your school can take to incorporate a successful, school-wide anti-bullying program, is to invite experts in the field to your campus. These anti-bullying experts can help you determine the best ways to create a new culture within your school, so that bullying is no longer promoted nor ignored, but rather is rooted out and eliminated entirely, by students, staff, and parents. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/trixer/