IT’S zero tolerance on bullying at Camden Haven High School.
Bullying is a reality in all areas of society; at school, in the workplace and even in homes.
Bullying is not simply teasing. It’s a constant, ongoing act.
“Bullies try to hurt people physically, emotionally, damage their property, reputation or social acceptance,” said teacher Steve Shilling.
“It can happen either face-to-face or by using technology like mobile phones or the internet.”
Mr Shilling said bullying is not a major problem at the school, but it does exist and the school is adopting a zero tolerance of the behaviour. A new system is in place to stamp out bullying.
“We surveyed a cross section of 200 students in the school to see what bullying behaviour existed,” Mr Shilling said.
“Only around 12 reported being bullied in the past 12 months. But one instance of bullying is one too many. We will be acting on it if it happens in school or outside school.
“Students who come to this school should feel safe, secure and protected, and in turn they should respect that idea when dealing with their peers.
“We’ve put together a team to meet the new anti bullying guidelines from the Department of Education and Communities (formerly the Department of Education and Training).
“Kids who are being bullied often don’t report it because they are concerned that nothing will be done about it or it will get worse.
“We have put together a team of 20 teachers who are being trained on this issue we also have around 16 students in year 10 and 11 who have spent two days learning conflict resolution skills who will act as peer mediators and sit and talk with the victim and the perpetrator and talk about the issues and how this behaviour is inappropriate.
“There are acts that will result in disciplinary action immediately from the deputy principal, like physical assault or cyber bullying.
“We also want to encourage and empower bystanders, the people who know bullying is happening and don’t stop it or don’t report it. We want them to speak out, come forward and know they will be listened to.
“Bullying can affect people in the future and some industries are checking to see if job applicants have a record of bullying in their past.
“Victims can carry past acts of bullying with them their whole lives. Bullies also can continue their behaviour into adulthood.”
Erica Johnson is one of the peer mediators ready to help both bullies and their victims.
The year 10 student said learning conflict resolution skills was an enlightening experience.
“I think what we learnt for peer mediation (regarding bullying) could be applied in many situations outside of school life,” Erica said.
“Peer mediation will be a good way to deal with things in their early stages.
“It was hard learning how to stay neutral in these situations, because it’s easy to isolate and blame the bully. We’ve got to get the two parties together and help them sort out a solution for themselves rather than force a solution onto them.
“While both may be emotional and irrational, you’ve got to be able to see what the real underlying issue is that’s causing the behaviour.”
Camden Haven High School has sent a letter to parents to talk about bullying behaviour with their children in order to have the whole school community on the same page and taking a zero tolerance stance.