This week is Bully Free New Zealand Week. On Monday the New Zealand Herald published an article about ERO’s latest evaluation around bullying at school. Here is the link NZ Herald Article about Bullying in NZ Schools
Bullying is defined as:
Bullying is the use of coercion, force, or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception of an imbalance of physical or social power. This imbalance distinguishes bullying from conflict. There is no universal definition of bullying. It is widely agreed upon that bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behaviour characterized by the following three minimum criteria: hostile intent, imbalance of power, and repetition over a period of time. Bullying may thus be defined as the activity of repeated, aggressive behaviour intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Bullying is different to conflict or a one off act of aggression. Children will sometimes lash out when they are frustrated or angry, something that some parents (possibly all) have witnessed at home. After the event, children are usually contrite and things get back to normal very quickly. This is not bullying. When we drill down, it was a one off spat which got a bit heated and once sorted, it doesn’t happen again. If it does happen over and over, then it becomes bullying.
Bullying is different. Bullying is targeted and repeated. It can be physical – not just hitting or punching, but it can be shoving, or tripping or being over aggressive when tackling the victim, taking or hiding belongings. It can be verbal – constant put downs in front of others. Ridicule, especially about size or body issues. It can be excluding – deliberately leaving someone out of the game, or the invitations, not just once but again and again.
Does this behaviour EVER happen in front of adults? No, of course it doesn’t. Do not think – or say – that we ‘allow’ bullying to happen. Of course we don’t, just as you would not allow it. We have to rely on children telling us about it, or telling you about it. The minute, yes, the minute, not the next day or next few days, the minute we hear about any disclosure of bullying we investigate it. We talk to the victim, the bystanders and the bully. We never talk to the bully and victim together. We contact parents. A restorative approach usually works but sometimes we have to use more assertive methods to ensure that the bullying ceases. By assertive, I don’t mean aggressive, I mean things like daily contracts, daily reporting, restricted play areas or classroom spaces or, in very extreme cases when all else has failed, a stand down or suspension.
So why are the New Zealand stats on bullying so bad? We have the Keeping Ourselves Safe programme every second year. We have Peer Mediators in the playground every lunchtime. We have a listening culture among staff. We encourage children to tell us if someone is being mean to them, bullying them. So if we do all these things, why does bullying still happen?
This is what the ERO report said:
A huge majority (83 per cent) of students said they had learned at their current school what to say or do if they experienced bullying. A total of 65 per cent said they did what they had been taught to do when bullying occurred. However only 35 per cent of those who did what they had been taught said that the bullying stopped.
We try to find out why bullies bully. Is it an acting out of what goes on at home or what happens to them? Is it to make themselves look ‘cool’ in front of peers? Does it give them pleasure to hurt people? Do they just like to bully people? Is it revenge for some justified or unjustified slight? Do they see famous people getting away with bullying? To be honest, we can never find out just what makes a bully.
What we can do, is ensure that our policies and procedures, anti bullying programmes and messages are all around us all of the time. We won’t accept it, we won’t condone it and we won’t stop trying to stamp it out.
Without wanting to pass the buck or underplay our role in wanting to stop bullying rather than manage it, this statement from the ERO report is very sobering:
“Finally, many of the most salient drivers of bullying may be beyond schools’ direct control, related to parental attitudes and broader societal issues.”
Pink Shirt Day
Please support our bully free message by allowing children to wear a pink shirt to school on Friday. Stand up to bullies!
Uniform Price Reduction
Recently we carried out a review of the supply of our school uniform. The purpose of the review was to ensure that our sourcing provides competitive prices, reliable supply and good quality product that we are supplying to our community.
The pool of suppliers of school uniforms in NZ is fairly small. We invited three other suppliers to quote for the supply of our school uniform. We also requested that our current supplier (Argyle Schoolwear) review their supply and pricing. The outcome of this was price reductions.
Our Board evaluated the proposals by the four suppliers and concluded that the proposal by our current supplier achieved the highest ranking based on the pricing, quality and supply criteria. We are therefore happy to continue our relationship with Argyle Schoolwear.
As a result of this review process, we are delighted to let you know that we are now able to pass on these cost savings to our school community. Effective from now, we have decrease retail prices of uniform between 5% and 18% on uniform items.