In Bullying Facts

Bullying in New Zealand

You might not think that bullying in New Zealand is taking its way up, but after looking at the statistics provided by Victoria University of Wellington, your mind will surely be changed. According to this research 94% of the respondents agreed that bullying appear in their schools believing that social/relational bullying and verbal bullying make the most percentage of the problem more than the cyber bullying and the physical bullying.  Respondents believe that some rules should be available for bullying and they even agreed that anti-bullying guidelines should be part of the national administration guidelines and should be compulsory in schools. Students need action.

Bullying in schools

Considering schools one of the main places to prevent bullying in, since it goes through different age groups, zooming in to get more specific details, it was found, according the Victoria University of Wellington research, that the majority of the respondents who make 68%  agreed that bullying in schools starts mainly between pre-school and year four, while 20% said that it began between year five and year eight, while the rest of them, who only form 12% believed that it began in high school. Half of the people who took part in this answers indicated that they work in primary schools; only 32% were having their roles in secondary ones, while the rest were working as intermediate, primary through secondary, or intermediate through secondary schools.

Schools in general, whether primary or secondary, should develop anti-bullying programs and strategies because at this very moment at least one student might not feel safe in his/her school environment. Students all over the world should be prevented from bullying in any shape it takes, whether herbal, physical of even cyber, they should as well be prevented from other things that might take them through the roads of committing suicidal acts, such as harassment.

Knowing that bullying is the fourth common reason why young people seek help from children’s help services, puts the issue at a more advanced level to prevent it, set laws for it, and follow on its cases. Bullying should be prevented, and the fact that most respondents agree that all parties should take place in this process, most of the school approaches included students, staff, parents and whanau.

According to preventing bullying and responses, bullying prevention and the New Zealand curriculum/ Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, these bullying prevention guides should be followed,

  • Bullying prevention approaches should align with the New Zealand curriculum, for example as part of teaching the key competencies, such as the competency of managing self where students can consider themselves a capable learners and can have full confidence in themselves so they could consider themselves doers . The competency of relating to others so students will have the ability to deal with a wide and different range of people and societies. And the last competency of contributing and participating, where students can participate in the community on a common interest or culture, and this community includes the family, school, friends and whanau.
  • Bullying approaches should also align with the Health and Physical Education learning area of the curriculum, because students should take part in the society and they should feel safe about taking part in new relationships, and they should open up to healthy communities and environments.
  • The New Zealand curriculum also requires schools to explore how digital technology can be used so that students can learn and explore the traditional ways to take part and participate in the community and to go beyond their classrooms and the school’s atmosphere.

Bullying in schools has shown one main problem, that most of the students think that their incidents won’t be taken care of or even to be considered, and that the schools won’t address their concerns, yet some students even think that if they reported to their teachers, it would be worse. But some of the programs and approaches were being responding to prevent bullying in New Zealand, and they included some elements, such as:

  • Commitment to a whole school approach
  • A focus on developing a healthy social behaviors and strategies
  • Provision for planning, regular monitoring and evolution of the outcome
  • Professional development for all staff
  • A long-term sustainable approach

Although a wide range of people agree that the verbal and physical bullying is increasing and that cyber bullying is not taking as much place, but also some other groups say that on the contrary, it’s not apparent as it used to be because with the emerging of the new technology and the social media that take a great role of every student’s life, cyber bullying became one of the main aggressive behaviors.

Bullying in New Zealand, Kia Kaha anti-bullying

Schools in New Zealand agree that students should feel safe at their schools and they should be valued and respected, they also agree that all the parties are considered one main reason from the bullying act, whether the family, the student or the teachers, that’s why New Zealand formed the Kia Kaha anti-bullying program to come out with a society that is free from any bullying behavior. Kia Kaha anti-bullying which means in the Maori language “to stand strong” is a program created by the police of New Zealand in 1992 and provided to schools of New Zealand free of charge to make students in these school stand strong against the act of bullying and to make students feel safe, valued and respected and to avoid the flourishing of the bullying acts. This program was set under the principle of “you should treat people as you would like to be treated”.

The Kia Kaha program is comprehensive and tackles a couple of important topics that should be discussed among students, such as peer relationships, identifying and dealing with bullying, making personal choices, developing people of self worth, respecting differences and working co-operatively to build a safe classroom environment. This program is delivered by teachers who know the curriculum and are delivered with video cassettes, where in classrooms students are being taught all the facts about bullying and what they might face from such acts and how to act against them, they are also being taught to freely open up and express themselves and share any bullying experience they had been through. This program tells the students what steps they should take to defuse bullying acts; they should stop, think, consider options, act then follow up.

The Kia Kaha includes four classroom programs, which are:

  • Year (0-3) for building a happy and safe classroom
  • Year (4-6) a bully free zone
  • Year (7-8) safer communities together
  • Year (9-13) our place

The Kia Kaha program was based on specific criteria, which says that:

  • All children and young people should be supported to behave in a specific positive ways, young people should understand that bullying is not an acceptable behavior and schools should have zero tolerance for such behaviors and that the whole school should work together to eliminate it.
  • The criteria also say that the bullying is not an act to be blamed on the person being bullied, or referred to as “victim” because it’s not his/her. And schools should create and build a “telling culture” so that students would be more aware of the bullying acts in New Zealand.

Cyber bullying in New Zealand

With the apparent appearance on the digital technology nowadays, and its evolution day after the other, it became the central importance for the youth. According to Bullying prevention and response, the vast majority which makes 93% of New Zealand from 15 to 24 years old are internet users and by far 90% of which are social media users, they also use multiple devices ranging from smart phones and laptops to game consoles. It is agreed that cyber bullying can be the most aggressive type because it can carry physical, verbal/social and relational bullying through it, the digital age made it easier for cyber bullying to take place through chat rooms, e-mail, cell phones, instant messaging and social media networking to bully others verbally, physically or psychologically.

The problem that makes cyber bullying in New Zealand more dangerous than any other type is:

  • The repetition, that one single action of bully might be carried from one person to the other easily, and repeated rapidly with a wider range of audience. In addition to that it might occur at any time of the day leaving a permanent record such as photos and videos.
  • Power imbalance, which can be a function of anonymity of the person initiating the use of cyber bullying, or the person’s weak knowledge of how to use technology.
  • The cyber bullying may involve people who have never met before in real life, or people who don’t share any common acquaintances.

Cyber bullying might have different shapes, it might be in the shape of sending e-mails, sending text messages, posting inappropriate photos or videos on social media networks which might come from sharing some personal images and abusing them.

Bullying in New Zealand, stories

The fact the teenagers depend on their smart phones and social media to reach their family members and friends during all the hours of the day, put cyber bullying more into focus, and make it one step forward for people to commit suicides.

  • One case that took place in one of New Zealand’s schools, called Hastings School. Adriana Kemp a 14-year-old girl who was punched several times in school by two other girls, the whole incident was filmed with a mobile phone of another kid who saw the whole thing happens. The thing that arouses more questions was that the school didn’t call the police nor the ambulance. But later on, the three kids who were involved for what happened to the girl were expelled from school.
  • Another incident appeared in New Zealand in 2010, when an 11 year old girl in Hamilton Girl’s high school entered a classroom with a knife in her hand in a search for another girl and she threatened the whole classroom in the process, the school then was placed in lockdown to ensure the safety of the students. When the girl was asked, it appeared that it was in the response for an act of bullying.

Bullying laws in New Zealand

The shocking percentage of suicide rates in New Zealand that is considered a reason of the bullying acts made the government move towards applying laws that will help prevent bullying. According to a research done lately by the New Zealand Herald indicated that New Zealand has the world’s suicide highest rate for young males aged 15 to 24 and the second highest overall death rate of young people aged 10 to 24, reflecting a high road death toll as well as suicide. Another long term study that was done of 1256 people born in Christchurch in 1977 found that both adolescents who where both bullied and the teenagers who bullied them were three times than other to attempt suicide before the age of 30.

The New Zealand’s proposed law to fight bullying is that the legislation would make it an offence to send or post harmful messages, and that such acts would require a fine of $2000 or three months in jail and create a specialized enforcement agency to deal with cyber bullying complaints.

Workplace bullying in New Zealand

One other type of bullying in New Zealand is bullying in the workplace, which is stated that there are no any legal rules taken in the work force to prevent such acts. Bullying in the work place can be direct or indirect; it might be verbal or physical which can occur in the place of work or in the course of employment. The problem in bullying at work may lead to other consequences such as:

  • People leaving their jobs even after a short period of time
  • Low of self esteem
  • Low of confidence
  • Losing weight due to the stress

These consequences make bullying an act that not only leads to suicidal effects but might lead to physical dissatisfaction and other illnesses.

Bullying in New Zealand, cases

Work place bullying acts in New Zealand have come several times before the employment court and Employment Relations Authority. Here are some of the cases that appeared:

  • Failure to provide safe working conditions:

In McGowan v Nutype Accessories Ltd [2003] 1 ERNZ 120 (EMC) The Employment court upheld a claim of constructive dismissal of an employee who was bullied. It was reasonably foreseeable to the employer that if the abusive behavior continued, the employee would leave. The bully’s behavior, and the employer’s failure to demonstrate its genuine support for the employee in the face of repeated abuse, was such that the employee could not have reasonably been expected to put up with it. The Court held that the employer had breached its duty to the employee to take all reasonable and practical steps to provide him with safe working conditions. That duty arose from the time the employer knew of the abuse that was being directed towards the employee. The Court also said that the obligation on an employee was to bring their concerns to their employer’s attention, and the employee had done this. Once an employer received an allegation of bullying, it had a duty to investigate properly and take the necessary steps to protect its employee.

  • Factors to consider:

In Kneebone v Schizophrenia Fellowship Waikato Inc ERA Auckland AA31/07, 13 February 2007, the Employment Relations Authority stated a number of factors that should be determined and studied to know whether the employee was really bullying or not, some of these factors are:

  • Repeated actions
  • His trial to always gain power in his work place
  • The intention to cause fear and distress
  • Emotive words:

In Conaglen v The Vice Chancellor of Auckland University [2011] NZERA Auckland 377 the Employment Relations Authority stated that whenever the words such as “bullying”, “harassment” or “discrimination” are mentioned, they are usually treated more emotively. And they always considered whether to put the conduct under the light of being “bullied” after they see the details.

  • Supervisory or managerial harassment:

In Mitchell v Eastland Group Ltd [2012] NZERA Auckland 175, the Employment Relations Authority stated that workplace bullying differs from being personal to going up to the managerial or supervisory bullying which is determined by repeated offensive, abusive and insulting behavior.

  • The difference between bullying and feedback:

In Evans v Gen-i Ltd ERA Auckland AA333/05, 29 August 2005, the Employment Relations Authority stated that a workplace bullying is an act that is repeatedly done by a more powerful person over a less powerful one, and that act might send some kind of fear to the person being bullied. This action most probably will be repeated during different occasions and in different shapes such as threats, and that makes it clear to distinguish between bullying, criticism and feedback, because one person might get a feedback as some kind of bullying although it was not intended in the first place.

  • Personal grievance:

Job v AG in respect of the DG of the Department of Conservation (unreported, AA 18/03, 20 January 2003, A Dumbleton), the Employment Relations Authority found that the dismissal in which the grievant brought a personal grievance claim unjustifiable dismissal, his behaviors included bad language and threats, is justified because the applicants behavior in bullying and harassing staff had caused the employer to lose trust and confidence in him.

  • Personal grievance:

O’Brien v Renton Chainsaws & Mowers Ltd (AA 21/03 27 February 2003, H Doyle), the employee in this case brought with him a personal grievance after he resigned, claiming constructive unjustifiable dismissal. In this case the employee referred to his employer on several different occasions about his relationship with one manager who kept on swearing him several times and pushing him, the Employment Relations Authority was standing on the side of the employer because he should feel safe and protected in his work place, and all the blame goes to his employer because he was informed with the incident but never took a step into it.

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