BULLY CRI­SIS CAN’T GO ON

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - OPINION -

WITH the scab knocked off the school sore – bul­ly­ing – that is mak­ing life mis­er­able for too many chil­dren, par­ents are com­ing for­ward to tell of the night­mare their kids suf­fer and the dif­fi­culty in get­ting help.

What they are telling the Bulletin – and we in turn are telling read­ers – is light years re­moved from the pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence school should be. These par­ents are at their wits’ end. Heaven only knows the tor­ment their sons and daugh­ters are put through.

We share their frus­tra­tion. At­tempts to talk to prin­ci­pals are of­ten met with si­lence. Ef­forts to gain an­swers from the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion are met with bu­reaus­peak, with lib­eral doses of jar­gon but noth­ing in the way of ex­pla­na­tions of what poli­cies mean or how suc­cess is mea­sured.

Gold Coast­ers know what the mea­sure should be – the erad­i­ca­tion of bul­ly­ing from the school grounds and also from the bed­rooms of the vic­tims, where they are pur­sued on­line by sadis­tic kids.

When we sought an­swers from the depart­ment about how a case at Coom­babah High School had been han­dled, the response con­tained the usual words, among them “re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour plan, tar­geted be­hav­iour sup­port, pos­i­tive be­hav­iour for learn­ing, and ex­plicit teach­ing of com­mu­nity ac­cepted be­hav­iour’’. Such words are cheap. Where is the sub­stance?

Where and what are the re­sults? We’ll never know un­less an in­quiry is held into bul­ly­ing across the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. We sus­pect the au­thor­i­ties don’t have an­swers.

What we do know is that among the cases brought to our door, there is a child who has been pulled from school by his mother be­cause of death threats and de­spite her ap­peals for help, be­cause of in­ad­e­quate re­sponses from the school and higher au­thor­i­ties. And we know, af­ter a wor­ried fa­ther ap­proached the Bulletin yes­ter­day, that in an­other school there ap­pears to be a ring of bul­lies who delight in telling vic­tims they should kill them­selves.

It’s time ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties dug down into the mire of the play­grounds. It’s time for the au­thor­i­ties to be up­front with the com­mu­nity and stop hid­ing be­hind clever phrases. This cri­sis needs trans­parency.

And the time is long over­due for that breed of par­ents who haven’t a clue or don’t care what their vi­cious brats are up to, or are happy to leave the par­ent­ing to over­worked teach­ers, to get off their be­hinds and raise their chil­dren to be kind and re­spon­si­ble mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

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