We were deeply saddened to see the article in today’s Herald Sun highlighting a court decision to ban a year 9 student from going within 100m of a younger student at a Victorian school. The story claimed threats were made to the younger student, which is a very serious matter.
While we are very sympathetic to everyone involved and believe that the safety of both children is paramount, we do not believe that intervention orders for children in the classroom and on the playground are a sustainable nor, realistically, an enforceable solution.
The National Centre Against Bullying – an initiative of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation is comprised of the most senior experts in bullying in the country. Their strong advice is for schools to take a “whole of school” approach to bullying because, if prevention and management are not effectively undertaken, environments can turn toxic. Individuals, who do not feel safe or supported, can have extreme responses.
The most important aspect of such an approach is a focus on the safety and wellbeing of all.
Ideally, this is guided by leaders who develop and implement effective policies and processes, based on respectful relationships between all members of the school community.
Because if everyone, including family members, have defined roles and responsibilities, there are lower levels of bullying. If bullying occurs but responses are consistent, timely and effective, they will not escalate into situations like the one that has developed in this case.
Endorsed by NCAB experts, the Alannah & Madeline’s eSmart Schools initiative is a framework that assists schools to develop the relevant policies, with effective teaching and learning practices that explicitly enhance students’ wellbeing, effectively prevent bullying and manage instances when they occur.
It is incumbent on all Australian governments to support evidence-informed efforts that are aimed, through improving school cultures, to be effective in addressing issues of bullying.
We can work together to prevent bullying and protect and guide our childrenLesley Podesta
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