I’m always intrigued by the regular statement by schools across Australia reporting that they take a strong stance against bullying.
Given my experiences at school, the difference between what a school says and what a school does are two different things.
I was bullied at school. I was bullied from about Year 5 right the way through to my last day of Year 12. While I was rarely physically bullied, the alienation by some students along with the verbal abuse I copped has scarred me for a long time, and in my personal opinion, has influenced how I interact with people at a personal level, whether they are a friend or a potential love interest.
Today I went back and looked at my school’s bullying policies. They say a lot of things, including:
Bullying and Harassment are forms of abuse. They will not be tolerated in our School Community and will be treated seriously.
Bullying and harassment are not just about the student engaging in the bullying and the person being victimised. These behaviours are part of a wider social context and require policy and procedures that include both preventative measures and effective intervention strategies.
Unfortunately, school bullying policies do not work and will not work because of one simple fact that schools always forget… in fact, it’s more of a code.
The Schoolyard Code.
Quite simply, students (in Australia) won’t rat out a student that bullies them. Regardless of all the school policies and what teachers say and the position taken by school authorities, police, etc – students don’t want to be a dobber, the student version of a prison yard snitch. Although the school may say something along the lines of:
The School expects students to:
• Refuse to be involved in any bullying situation
• Be aware of their responsibilities as a bystander or a witness to bullying
• Take preventative action and report actions of students who engage in bullying
• Support the values of the School by speaking out about incidents of bullying they experience or observe.
Students are not going to tell on their fellow student – it goes back to the whole issue behind conformative behavour – you seek to belong, because you don’t want to be an outsider.
I experienced this the hard way.
The retribution that I received on the back of my reporting of being bullied was usually worse than the bullying I actually received to begin with. As a result, students will tend to not tell anyone in a position of authority. The parents, should they stumble across their children bearing the results of being bullied, go direct to the school asking why they haven’t done anything about it – to which the school says that they didn’t know anything about it.
Having said that, it is my belief that schools know a lot more about what is going on than they suspect. I have no proof of that, but given the amount of time that teachers and administrators spend around the students, it seems inevitable that they would know what is happening.
There are no solutions to bullying – unless the schools are going to take a much harder line on bullying to the point of suspensions and expulsions, the current trickle of restraining orders will become a flood, much like the situation in the United States. There have been reports of teachers struggling to keep up with the various restraining orders against specific students to the point of a drama teacher having to change the roles in a play to ensure that two students leave opposite sides of the stage.
For all the problems I experienced at school and have had to deal with since then, I am glad that I am not in school these days. Cyber bullying is an area that I haven’t experienced and certainly wouldn’t want to experience. I must say that my school takes a hard line on the issues of cyber bullying.
Cyber bullying statement
This issue is relatively new and complex and deserves particular mention. It refers to bullying by inflicting harm on others through electronic and digital media; such as mobile phone text messages, emails, phone calls, internet chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. Cyber bullying can occur at different times and places, which may be outside the school day and outside the clearly demarcated campus. Where bullying takes place that falls into the category of cyber bullying, school network privileges may also be removed for the individual student.
The policy on cyber bullying at CCGS is clear. Where there is a resulting impact on the wellbeing of a student at school or on the quality of the relationships between students, or groups of students, instances of cyber bullying will be addressed by the School irrespective of where and when the bullying takes place.
I’ve managed to avoid being bullied for quite a while. I have not yet experienced workplace bullying and I sincerely hope that I never have to deal with it.
My advice to any students who are being bullied and are reading this? Unfortunately, the best advice I can give is to ignore them – don’t give them the reaction they seek. I’m no good with advice regarding physical bullying, but do your best.