Bullying-Free New Zealand Week starts 14 May 2018, and ends with the Mental Health Foundation’s Pink Shirt Day on Friday 18 May. The theme this year is ‘Let’s talk about it’.
Schools that encourage respect, value opinions, celebrate difference, and promote positive relationships make it difficult for bullying behaviour to thrive or be tolerated. To achieve this, it needs everyone talking about the issue and working together.
What is bullying? Bullying is a word that can have a lot of different meanings for different people. We need to make sure everyone at VAS shares the same definition of bullying.
- Bullying is deliberate – harming another person intentionally.
- Bullying involves a misuse of power in a relationship.
- Bullying is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time.
Bullying can be verbal, physical and/or social; it can happen in person or online; and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).
Not every unkind thing is bullying. Students, especially young children, are still learning how to get along with others. They need parents, teachers and other adults to model kindness, inclusion, conflict resolution and responsibility. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying. These behaviours may be just as upsetting and serious, but may need to be dealt with in a different way.
I have often said that bullies never do anything in front of an adult, their parent or their boss. It is ongoing, sometimes insidious, but always harmful to the recipient. There is physical bullying, not just punching or kicking but the subtle dropped shoulders, foot trips or elbows, where the bully swears it was just an ‘accident’. We sometimes see this with siblings. Sibling bullying is one area of bullying not usually talked about, but it is just as harmful as any other kind of bullying.
There is emotional bullying. Nasty comments, ongoing smarmy remarks followed by ‘just joking’. Exclusion bullying when a child is deliberately left out over and over. Now of course, we have to deal with cyber bullying. Circulating rumours, photos, memes, comments. Sending nasty emails.
Some incidents of bullying during sport were brought to our attention this week (thank you to those parents who told us about it) and we were able to address it very strongly. The senior teacher reminded the group that the bystanders who witnessed the bullying but did nothing and told no one were also part of the problem. We are encouraging all the children to talk about it, not just accept it and say nothing.
Each of the syndicates will be undertaking different activities to encourage children to talk about bullying. Talk about bullying, including sibling bullying, with your children.
On Friday 18 May, we are encouraging all children to come to school wearing something pink or having something pink with them, to show their support of the stop bullying initiative. If you prefer your child does not take part, it is okay for them to wear their uniform.