Strategies outlined to deal with bullying at school
No matter the culture, no matter the age or sex, or size or type of school, bullying is an age-old problem, according to educational advisor Robert Pereira.
With the internet it has gone to a new level, especially for girls, he said.
He was in Dannevirke recently talking to teachers at Dannevirke High School and Totara College, with information about what motivates bullies and strategies to counter them drawn from 40 years of experience visiting a vast number of cultures and listening to kids — the experts in experiencing bullying.
He said 95 per cent of children mostly treated each other with respect. But the other 5 per cent could be vicious and unrelenting.
“With access to smartphones the bullying can go on day and night,” he said. Some hostels in New Zealand shut down Wi-Fi after 10pm. Others ban cellphones at school.
He differentiated between bullying by girls and boys, saying the motivations and the actions taken were different.
Virtually every discussion with girls revealed the prime motivation was jealousy/envy of the victim. Something as simple as nicer hair or a beauty spot could trigger the bully into action, generally covert — latenight texting telling the victim not to come to school and threatening to ostracise her. Victims frequently become extremely depressed and exhibit all manner of unusual symptoms including anxiety and sadness.
Pereira says male bullies are triggered by other boys doing better either academically or in sport or by just being different in interests, appearance and behaviour. Their action was more overt “loud, physical….and largely about teasing which degrades and humiliates others” according to his guide for parents. They are frequently labelled “gay”. Victims react by becoming withdrawn and in some cultures take action to stop it — with a gun.
Pereira says an alliance between parents and teachers is vital to help stop bullying. His lessons provide teachers with strategies to help children understand why bullies act the way they do, in gender-split sessions.
DHS Principal Di Carter says frequently the bullying takes place outside of school hours but affecting the school.
“Now after these workshops we will have more strategies to turn this round and we want bystanders and good kids to help,” she said.
There is no magic answer, no silver bullet, Pereira says .
“But the answer is educational with a need to take a preventive approach.”
International Bullying Prevention Consultant Robert Pereira speaking at Dannevirke High School to parents and visitors.