Wider Approach To Bullying Applauded
The education union NZEI Te Riu Roa is applauding the government’s new anti-bullying initiatives, saying it has listened to calls for a broader, community approach to bullying and school violence.
The Education Minister has launched a range of measures and resources, which are going into schools, to encourage a zero-tolerance approach. The Children’s Commissioner has also announced an investigation into violence in schools after a number of cases of bullying.
NZEI, which represents thousands of teachers, principals and education workers in primary and intermediate schools, has repeatedly voiced concern about increasing levels of disruptive student behaviour, in which bullying plays a large part.
Schools and staff want to create a safe and positive environment for their students and are obliged to do so. However the nature of schoolyard bullying has changed with the advent of text messaging, the internet and sites such as YouTube, Bebo and Facebook. It is more insidious and sophisticated and often schools can be unaware it is going on.
NZEI President Frances Nelson says “the role and responsibility of schools in preventing bullying is not being questioned, but the root causes lie beyond the classroom and in many cases schools are simply the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff in trying to deal with it.”
Part of the new initiative is providing information on bullying to parents, whanau, caregivers and support agencies through the Team Up website. It will link to many of the resources being given to children and schools.
“Parents, whanau and the wider community have a huge role to play in identifying bullying and changing behaviours, and this initiative recognises that,” says Ms Nelson.
Schools will also be asked about what programmes and policies they have in place to address bullying by the Education Review Office as part of their formal review process. Many schools already have effective anti-bullying programmes in place. Frances Nelson says introducing compliance and accountability will strengthen school practices and hopefully give schools further support without wielding a big stick at the problem.