Although it would be optimal for schools to be free of violence, free of trouble, and free of bullying, this sadly is not the school system that we are currently facing. That being said, it is important to learn about the issues that are currently plaguing the school systems to be able to really start to deal with the issues. There are plenty of different types of bullying that students deal with on a daily basis and knowing a thing or two about them can help parents and teachers start to deal with these issues. What is The Status of Bullying in Schools in Australia?
School Bullying Policy
The first and foremost issue that any parent that has a child that is being bullied must think about is the school policy that their child’s school has for bullying. Often, schools will have a policy in place that allows them to deal with bullying issues first hand. Many schools, including hose over seas, have had to strengthen and improve their bullying policies for a few different reasons. There are three distinct reasons that most schools have had to reevaluate their stance on bullying and they are as follows. First off, there are now more ways for students to bully one another than ever before. In the past, bullying was limited to physical contact between students. This means that students being bullied at the very least had a place at home where they could get away from their tormenters at school.
Now however, there are social media sites, online forums, and more ways than ever for children to carry the bullying over to home making it harder for students being bullied to deal with the bullying. This is one reason that schools have adopted harsher penalties for bullying in schools to help deter students from bullying one another. Another reason bullying statues are harsher now is that parents are even getting in on the bullying. Though the cases of parents bullying students are rare, there are now more parents taking part in bullying children and in encouraging their own children to bully others. As a result, schools are now administering harsher punishments that not only affect the child at school, but that will also affect the child in extracurricular activities as well.
The last reason that schools have adopted harsher bullying policies is that the standards for perfection from the media have changed and steepened so drastically that there are now more children that do feel inadequate sadly making bullying far more common than it used to be. This is a huge factor in the number of students that feel they need to take their aggression and feelings out on other students to make themselves feel better. Most schools these days have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. Sadly, even bullying in primary schools has become more prevalent making it necessary to more harshly punish these younger students.
Zero tolerance in essence means that rather than the strike system, which was common before now, there is no tolerance and the first offence warrants just as harsh a punishment as the tenth offense. This method is meant to deter all students no matter what. Any school bullying policy is going to differ from school to school but the vast majority of schools will adopt a zero tolerance policy. Now there are some benefits to this type of policy. First and foremost, the punishments are often far enough reaching that they will help a parent decide to keep their child from bullying. One possible punishment could be something like banning a child from sports, taking away dance privileges, and more. This type of punishment not only affects the child but also the parent making it much more likely that a parent will also punish a child for bullying.
Zero tolerance policies also let students and parents alike know that the school is serious about their punishments. Those schools that have a zero tolerance policy will in fact have less bullying incidents that result in serious injury than other schools that use the strike system. Those that do adopt a zero tolerance stance are going to have a much harder time keeping students in line as they will have to dole out more serious punishment. One draw back to this type of policy is that all incidents are generally going to be treated the same. This means that if someone calls a child a name they will get the same type of punishment that someone that beats up another kid might get. In some cases, schools can differentiate between offenses but in most cases the punishments are relatively blanket.
It is important that in order to understand a zero tolerance policy you also need to understand what a strike system is. The strike system works much like baseball. In this type of system students are given harsher punishments as the offense becomes more serious or more numerous. This means that is a child gets in trouble for calling someone a name they may not get punished seriously for it until they have done it several times. This leaves opportunity for a student to keep tormenting another child which makes for a very serious issue. The strike system is also more work for administrators as there are files and systems that need to be filed to keep track of what happens with students and bullying incidents.
Bullies at School in the News
While cyber bullying, or using the internet to bully another person is the most common, there are still some old fashioned bullies that simply torment others. Bullying these days has become so serious that there are even bullying stories that have made it to the world stage. One mother was so concerned for her gay son that she sent him to school with a stun gun. When fellow students surrounded him and started teasing and tormenting him Grimes pulled the stun gun and sent them running. Administrators claimed that they had asked the boy to tone down his flamboyant style to help reduce the likelihood that he would be bullied.
When television and radio personality Charlotte Dawson, the target of twitter trolls and cyber bullying, took her own life, fans and supporters were taken by surprise. The proponent of stopping cyber bullying was affected by those followers on twitter that was widely publicized. Dawson tried to commit suicide but was rushed to the hospital in time. The second time however she succeeded in taking her own life.
Research conducted by the Federal Government of Australia found that one in every four individuals in Australian schools are affected by bullying. An interview conducted by the Centre for Adolescent Health followed the stories of six individuals that have been affected by bullying. You can find their stories here, Six People Share their Experience with Bullying.
Still another case that is out of the ordinary is that of Jade Stringer. This beautiful 14 year old was popular, pretty, and had her life laid out before her. However, the well liked and pretty teen was tormented by other students that felt she thought she was better than everyone. This was the feeling of the people that chose to bully her to the point that she committed suicide. Another case that made headlines was not of only bullying. When sophomore Whitney Kropp was elected as part of homecoming court as a joke but she bravely went out on the field and she smiled despite her torment. Over 1,000 people showed up to support her.
Some mothers take matters into their own hands which is the case with Florida mother Debbie Piscitella who was arrested and charged with assault after choking the boy that had been accused of bullying her daughter. While there is no way to stop these students from being bullied to the point that they were, there are ways to help keep other students from suffering the same fate.
How to Stop Bullying in Schools
The first step is of course for schools to take matters into their own hands and make policies that punish students for bullying others. The next step is of course in the home. It is the duty of parents to teach their children that it is not okay to point out differences and torment others to make themselves feel better. If more parents would take the time to talk to their children and instill values that would keep their kids from bullying others it would be far less likely that students would torment one another. Though the first step is to make policies to address the issues that are already at hand, it is also necessary for people to become aware of issues that exist.
With proper awareness and the knowledge that it can bring it will be much easier to help eradicate bullying and prevent future issues. Though time and education is the only way to truly get rid of bullying, there is hope for those that want to change and that want to change the world and make bullying a shameful thing of the past. Bullying does not have to define our nation an with proper awareness and education anyone can help make bullying something that we avoid rather than encourage. There are now more schools than ever that are helping educate students in the hopes that they can make others realize what bullying does to one another and help prevent it all together.