As educators grapple with new ways to address bullying in schools, a New Zealand student-run project is calling on the importance of youth involvement in anti-bullying campaigns.
Sticks ‘n Stones, run by Karla Sanders, promotes interactive involvement and contribution from young people when addressing bullying.
“It’s really important to promote young people in all aspects of decision making, beginning with data collection around topics that concern them, so that findings are not based on assumptions that adults are making,” Ms Sanders said.
“High school students say they’re bombarded with safety messaging around driving, alcohol and drugs and sex education, so we need to try to identify and promote what young people can do, rather than giving them another fear-based message.”
Four student members of the Sticks n’ Stones program will travel to Melbourne to present at the seventh biennial National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) Conference at Melbourne’s Crown Conference Centre on July 28 and 29. The conference, an initiative of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, focuses on theories and practices for bullying solutions.
Ms Sanders said the conference was a great opportunity for the students to get their message out to industry professionals, while also bringing best practice research and thinking back to their own communities.
“We’ve had great success with the Sticks n’ Stones program and we’re keen to show other industry professionals what young people can bring to the table, and the value that can be added through their authentic involvement,” Ms Sanders said. “It’s about addressing bullying from the inside out, rather than top down.”
One of the program’s highlights is the resources being developed by young people. An example is the game ‘Hey Joe?’ for children aged between 8 and 12 years.
Students are encouraged to identify what could be upsetting the character in the game. They then use elements of the game in a discussion afterwards to express their own bullying experiences.
“We aim to provide our resources under ‘Creative Commons’ so that other youth groups and schools can use them,” she said.
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation CEO Lesley Podesta said engaging and incorporating young people on strategies to address and reduce bullying will give academics and lawmakers an important perspective.
“I look forward to hearing from Ms Sanders and the students to understand more about how Sticks ‘n Stones can help address bullying,” Ms Podesta said.
The conference will be co-hosted by NCAB Chair the Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC and Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. For further information on presenters and NCAB Conference agenda go to www.ncab.org.au
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