Chiefs on side of nil bul­ly­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

With school bul­ly­ing re­ceiv­ing so much cov­er­age peo­ple could be for­given for be­liev­ing noth­ing is be­ing done to tackle the prob­lem but be­hind the scenes a new ini­tia­tive is un­der way to kick bul­lies into touch.

Un­der the Kia Kaha an­tibul­ly­ing pro­gramme Waikato Po­lice have launched a part­ner­ship with the Chiefs’ Su­per Rugby fran­chise in an ini­tia­tive to re­duce bul­ly­ing in the re­gion’s schools.

Con­sta­ble Lance Smith, of the Melville Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Team’s Youth Ed­u­ca­tion Ser­vices, said the part­ner­ship came about af­ter con­tact from the Chiefs’ man­age­ment. ‘‘The Chiefs were look­ing for a worth­while com­mu­nity-based pro­ject to be­come in­volved with which would have a pos­i­tive im­pact at the grass roots level and what bet­ter place to start than with kids in schools?’’ he said.

‘‘Kia Kaha is a whole school pro­gramme that doesn’t just tar­get stu­dents but in­volves ev­ery­one from the kids, teach­ers and even the boards of trustees, work­ing to es­tab­lish safe emo­tional and phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ments in our schools.’’

Mr Smith said with buy-in from the Chiefs the pro­gramme now had en­hanced mana and cred­i­bil­ity with chil­dren who might ini­tially be ner­vous about dis­cussing is­sues around bul­ly­ing.

The per­son driv­ing the Chiefs’ in­volve­ment with Kia Kaha, pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment man­ager Judy Cle­ment, said from the play­ers’ per­spec­tive they were pas­sion­ate about the op­por­tu­nity to sup­port chil­dren and par­tic­u­larly youth at risk. She knows this will be ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial to the rugby play­ers as well.

‘‘Kia Kaha’s anti-bul­ly­ing mes­sage means a lot to the Chiefs’ team mem­bers. They are proud to work with the po­lice in this area and look for­ward to join­ing them in vis­its to lo­cal schools to as­sist in de­liv­er­ing the pro­gramme.

‘‘ The team will be in­volved through­out the Chiefs’ Su­per Rugby cam­paign and split into eight groups. Each group will at­tach them­selves to a youth ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer and visit two schools per month,’’ she said.

Mr Smith said while the play­ers’ in­volve­ment would bring huge ben­e­fits in pro­mot­ing the pro­gramme it wasn’t with­out risks and to mit­i­gate these the play­ers had un­der­gone train­ing prior to the vis­its be­gin­ning.

‘‘One of the key things we all needed to ap­pre­ci­ate was that be­cause of who they are the kids will au­to­mat­i­cally warm to them and that has some risks in how play­ers re­act to mat­ters that may be dis­closed to them and how they deal with is­sues that may make them un­com­fort­able?

‘To ad­dress these is­sues po­lice ran sem­i­nars with the play­ers on how to deal with such sit­u­a­tions and how to deal with them.

‘‘Like any group of young men there was a lot of jok­ing around at the start but very quickly they ap­pre­ci­ated just how se­ri­ous an is­sue this is, which is a credit to them,’’ Mr Smith said.

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