Strate­gies out­lined to deal with bul­ly­ing at school

Bush Telegraph - - NEWS - By DAVE MUR­DOCH

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.

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