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Reducing violence and bullying in schools

18 August 2004 Media Statement

Reducing violence and bullying in schools

New research about changing school cultures to reduce violence and bullying in schools has been released today.

The research, Developing A More Positive School Culture To Address Bullying And Improve School Relationships, was commissioned from the Dunedin-based Children’s Issues Centre as part of the government’s Agenda for Children, which includes the goal of addressing violence in children’s lives with a particular focus on reducing bullying. It uses three case studies built up from one-to-one interviews and focus groups with principals, teachers, students and parent Board of Trustee representatives at Papatoetoe Intermediate, Wilford Primary School (Lower Hutt) and Caversham Primary School (Dunedin).

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said the research makes a strong case that bullying can be dealt with decisively to create more safe and effective learning environments.

“While every school is different, this research identifies some principles and specific methods for improving school culture and reducing bullying.

“The report is based on research into three New Zealand schools that introduced some new approaches and reaped the benefits. Improvements were made by:
- teachers focussing firstly on their relationships with other teachers, to improve collegiality
- teachers modelled appropriate relationships for students
- teachers engaged with and supported students who struggled to fit in at school, rather than excluding them
- discussing expectations with students and clarifying what was acceptable behaviour
- supporting the well-being of students and families
- applying consistent, immediate and fair consequences for both appropriate and inappropriate behaviour
- providing support for students so they could develop positive relationships and learn to behave appropriately, and
- strong leadership and teacher and student support.

“The schools focused in this research have all significantly reduced anti-social and aggressive behaviour in their classrooms and playgrounds through improving their cultures during the past few years.

“The Ministry of Education plans to integrate the findings of the report into existing initiatives across the education sector, perhaps as part of a ‘total school well-being approach’.

“The research is part of the on-going implementation of the government’s Agenda for Children, which was launched in 2002. The goal of the multi-year, multi-initiative Agenda is to again make New Zealand a great place for children,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

Futher information about Developing A More Positive School Culture To Address Bullying And Improve School Relationships is being sent to subscribers of the New Zealand Education Gazette this week. The report is also available on the Ministry of Social Development website at www.msd.govt.nz.

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