If we want to make New Zealand a bully-free country then we are all going to have to work together.
Ahead of Bullying-Free NZ Week which takes place across the country from May 22-26, the Bullying Prevention Advisory Group launched a new website offering online resources to support schools, parents and their communities this week.
The www.BullyingFree.NZ resources include a new parent pack with information and tips for parents, carers and whānau on how to deal with and talk to children about bullying issues.
The website also includes resources for professional development workshops that step through what bullying is, responding to bullying behaviour, and bullying-prevention.
Bullying-Free NZ Week is an annual event run by the BPAG, a collaboration of 18 organisations which includes representatives from across the education, social, justice and health sectors, as well as Netsafe and human rights advocacy groups.
This year’s theme is ‘NZ students with solutions - working together to end bullying’, acknowledging the importance of listening to students’ voices and experiences, and the need for everyone to work together to prevent bullying behaviour.
Lorraine Kerr NZ School Trustees Association president says the awareness week is a chance to bring the whole school together to talk about the issue.
“Real change happens when everyone shares responsibility for making sure schools are safe and inclusive.
“Trustees have an important role in making sure their school takes steps to involve staff, students, parents and carers in developing robust processes that build a culture of inclusion and respect.”
The week ends with Pink Shirt Day, 26 May, when New Zealanders speak up, stand together to stop bullying and celebrate diversity in schools, workplaces and communities. During the week, schools can run classroom activities, get students talking about bullying, and review their anti-bulling policy.
Secretary for Education Iona Holsted says all students need to feel safe and secure at school. School leaders, teachers, students and whānau need to work together to ensure that this is the case.
“Unfortunately, bullying is a serious issue all schools will face at one time or another, which has a significant impact on students’ wellbeing and learning.
“These new resources will help the whole school community – leaders, teachers, students, parents and whānau – to share a common understanding and commitment to tackling bullying behaviour.”
NZ Police Prevention Manager: Community Focus Inspector Paula Holt says it is important schools work with parents and the wider school community to get the message out that bullying is never OK.
Police are committed to working with parents and communities, in particular schools, to help reduce bullying, she adds.
“Bullying doesn’t stop at the school gate. Adults have a role in modelling the behaviour they want to see at school and home, and effective prevention needs the support of the whole school community working together to build an environment where everyone feels safe.”
While Netsafe chief executive officer Martin Cocker says increasingly bullying amongst students doesn’t just happen at school. Often if the bullying is happening offline, it’s happening online too.
But one of the difficulties with online bullying is children can feel like there’s “no escape” because it doesn’t stop when they leave the school grounds, explains Martin.
“It’s important that parents and carers teach kids how to stay safe and where to get help if they need it, as well as how to behave positively toward each other online and offline.”