Child Helpline unsurprised by international study
15 December 08
NZ Child Helpline not surprised by international school safety study
The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement survey showing that bullying in New Zealand schools is in the worst category in the world comes as no surprise to national child helpline 0800WHATSUP. Young callers have been telling the helpline since its lines opened in 2001 that bullying is their main concern.
In the last twelve months, the counsellors at 0800WHATSUP have answered 145,000 calls. Of the 39 problem types tracked, calls about bullying alone made up 27% of the calls from those aged five to 12.
On the bright side, the proportion of callers reporting frequent or continual harassment has decreased over the last year.
“We should be very concerned about the effects of bullying on our children,” said Grant Taylor, Executive Director of What’s Up.
“Bullying can cause anxiety, humiliation, lowered self-esteem and decreased learning achievement. The child’s emotional security, well-being and ability to learn can all suffer severely. If it is not addressed in a timely, effective and sensitive manner, bullying can lead to anxiety and depressive disorders in the victims and anti-social conduct disorders in the bullies that are carried into adulthood.”
“All kids have a right to feel safe from harm or threats of harm, including when other children pose the threat. Bullying is a form of violence just as much as domestic violence or emotional abuse among adults. It matters to young people that they are treated fairly and can feel close to others and part of the community, both in and out of school,” added Mr Taylor.
“And failure to deal with the problem effectively has long-term social costs for everyone.”
“It is crucial that adults take reports of bullying seriously, and that they listen to, believe and support the children involved. Trivialising, minimising or ignoring the issue adds to the child’s sense of isolation and exclusion. Children need to be encouraged to talk about bullying whenever they see it and should not be expected to cope with bullying on their own.”
Mr Taylor said when it comes to dealing with bullies, it is very important that parents and schools work together to see that anti-bullying strategies are adopted and modelled by all the adults in the child’s life.
“Reacting with anger or punishment to children who engage in bullying is self-defeating, and serves to model the very behaviour we want to stop. Children who bully others also have a right to be treated with respect. Bullying can be their way of trying to deal with a complicated and difficult situation.”
Mr Taylor recommended some resources that are available for children and adults concerned about bullying, such as the Police/Telecom website www.nobully.org.nz, the Kia Kaha anti-bullying programme for schools, and the “Stop Bullying” video available from video hire stores.