Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Guest OpEd: Bullying Solution Lies With Community

Bullying Solution Lies With Communities


Guest Opinion by Grant Taylor

The death of 12 year-old Alex Teka must be taken as a sign of the seriousness of bullying and social relationship issues for New Zealand children. What’s Up, a national helpline that answers 500 calls a day from children and young people all over New Zealand, has received calls from children as young as seven years expressing the wish to die because of the bullying they are suffering.

It is perhaps easy for adults to see bullying as a relatively trivial thing that all kids have to go through as a normal part of growing up – not good, but nothing too much to worry about. Alex is a reminder that such complacency is ill-considered. While a large proportion of children experience bullying and some particularly resilient children seem not to be very bothered by it, our impression at What’s Up is that most are significantly troubled and some feel overwhelmed.

What’s Up statistics suggest that most bullying occurs in late primary school or intermediate school. This has major implications for parents and educators of children aged between 9 and 13 years. Bullying affects both girls and boys but makes up a significantly larger proportion of the calls made by males than those made by females.

The children that call What’s Up regarding bullying identify a variety of reasons for their mistreatment. These reasons include ethnicity, resistance to pressure to behave in a certain way, physical differences, high achievement, being new, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, and religious beliefs. Individuals who have low self-esteem or personal power can also be targeted.

The nature and extent of bullying can vary from direct to indirect harassment, from minor irritants to assaults, and include illegal acts (sexual harassment, racial abuse, deprivation of human rights). It can include physical, verbal, written (text messages, emails, hand-written notes) and gesture bullying, extortion and exclusion. The most common form of bullying is verbal harassment.

Research on programmes to reduce bullying in schools shows that the consistency and commitment of the school staff to reducing bullying is one of the most important factors
influencing success. Any suggestion implicit in the behaviour of the adults that bullying is tolerable seems to undermine the effectiveness of anti-bullying initiatives. Perhaps it can be inferred from this that the attitudes of adults outside of the school also have an influence. If children observe bullying among the adults in their lives, are taught that intimidation of others is the path to success, or get the message that feeling hurt by bullies is a sign of personal weakness, a school’s efforts to eliminate bullying are going to face a struggle.

While bullying is the second most common issue at What’s Up, Peer Relationships – making, keeping and negotiating problems with friends – is the first. Although parents and family are crucial influences in children’s lives, children live in a social environment that extends well beyond the home. Other children can have as big an influence on children as the family does and are the most common source of concern for children, as judged from the calls to What’s Up.

A child’s skills for dealing with other children – ‘social skills’ – are an important part of a child’s resilience to bullying and are an important predictor of how well a child will be doing later in life.

Our experience at What’s Up suggests that to prevent repetitions of the devastating experiences of Alex, her friends and family we need to address the attitudes towards general violence and aggression in New Zealand communities and take steps to build the social skills of our young children, not just their academic and sporting skills. Children (and their caregivers) must never be allowed to feel alone, inadequate or unsupported in the face of bullying and all adults in a position to prevent bullying must work consistently towards this end. Bullying is not just a ‘kid’s problem’, a ‘school problem’ or a ‘family problem’ but a shameful reflection on our communities’ abilities to create safe and healthy environments for us all.

*************

Grant Taylor
Executive Director
The Kids Help Foundation Trust

Anyone aged between five and 18 can speak free of charge to one of What’s Up’s professional counsellors between noon and midnight, seven days a week including holidays on 0800 WHATSUP (0800 9428787).

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news