This piece wwas published in the NT Sun on 13 MMarch 2018
BULLYING NEEDS MORE THAN A ‘NATIONAL DAY’
The Australian Government and various agencies connected with well-being issues have determined that Friday March 16 will be a ‘National Day Against Bullying’ (NDAB). This is in part a response to the realisation that bullying behaviour, both directly and promoted by the use of online devices, is far more problematic than many have realised.
The issue is yet another that will impact on schools, principals and staff. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has written to principals of every Australian school asking that particular emphasis be placed on the humiliating and deleterious impact of bullying. He is asking that attention to the issue receive particular focus next Friday.
The Australian Government’s hope is that Principals and staff in all schools will make Friday an Australian wide day of educational push to give bullying the thumbs down. The Australian Government is allocating $1.37 million, to assist schools wanting to highlight the issue. This funding is additional to the millions already allocated to ‘headspace’ and other student wellbeing programs.
The NDAB is not intended to be either a starting point or endpoint on the bullying issue. It’s purpose is to highlight and draw awareness to an ongoing problem
Bullying is a nationwide issue. In Queensland, it is cited as the leading reason for the huge increase in the number of children being home schooled. The Courier Mail (March 1 2018) reported that five years ago, 1,108 children were being home schooled. That number has grown steadily year-by-year, with 2580 children now receiving education at home. According to the story, cyber bullies are the ‘tormentors (fuelling the) spike in homeschooling’.
In NSW, the problem has become so serious that laws are being enacted to allow principals to suspend students engaging in this behaviour both at school and outside school hours. (It’s too cruel for school, Daily Telegraph, March 2 2018).
All states and territories are developing policies to counter the threat of cyberbullying.
Cyber bullying has become a 24/7 issue and it is a 365 days of the year phenomena. It has become so ingrained that an e-Safety Commissioner has been appointed to receive reports, generate responses and offer advice on how the epidemic of online bullying can be managed. The issue is one requiring ongoing attention at school AND at home.
Students being bullied must be encouraged to speak up on issues to both their parents and teachers. Unless countered, this insidious form of attack on people will become an everlasting scourge.