March­ing against bul­ly­ing

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MARY-JO TOHILL

One in four Kiwi kids are bul­lied at school.

Out of the 51 coun­tries rated by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, Latvia is the only coun­try with a higher rate of bul­ly­ing than New Zealand; that’s more than dou­ble the av­er­age.

De­pres­sion and anx­i­ety are the re­sults of bul­ly­ing, which also leads to stu­dents skip­ping classes and drop­ping out.

With those sta­tis­tics in mind, the Clutha Dis­trict’s first Pink Shirt Day march will be held at Bal­clutha on May 18 at 12.30pm.

Pink-clad South Otago High School pupils will take to the main street to be part of the an­nual na­tional anti-bul­ly­ing ini­tia­tive.

The event is be­ing co­or­di­nated by Bal­clutha po­lice and school com­mu­ni­ties of­fi­cer Con­sta­ble Rochelle Gor­don.

‘‘It is to raise aware­ness for ev­ery­one that passes that cor­ner that bul­ly­ing is a big problem and ev­ery­one has a role to play in help­ing re­duce it and to en­cour­age those to speak out about it.’’

It is a cause close to Gor­don’s heart. She has per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing bul­lied as a young of­fi­cer in Scot­land.

She was has­sled by an­other of­fi­cer on a daily ba­sis.

‘‘I had a guy who used to bully me be­cause I wouldn’t drink tea or cof­fee.’’

It may have seemed a mi­nor in­ci­dent, but it had a cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect as bul­ly­ing tends to do.

She didn’t do any­thing about it but it was re­solved be­cause her col­leagues saw what was hap­pen­ing and in­ter­vened.

Gor­don stressed that bul­ly­ing did not just hap­pen in schools, but anywhere.

‘‘It’s as sim­ple as ‘see some­thing, do some­thing’.’’

Stuff re­porter Adele Red­mond has written a six-part se­ries Sticks and Stones that ex­plores is­sues around school bul­ly­ing.

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