Has your child been bullied at school?
Speak out against bullying in NZShare your stories, photos and videos.
One mother's story of frustration at getting her child's school to take action on continual bullying among pupils has resonated loud and clear with our readers today.
With bullying such a key issue in New Zealand schools and playgrounds, we thought we'd highlight some of the great advice and insights from the comment section today:
10. We've had hundreds of comments on why bullying happens and what should be done about it. Our writer's frustration was shared by many, including TParkin2526:
"I really, really feel for you. I don't know what the answer is, and I really don't think schools know what the answers are either. I loathe when you get told it's all part of life. Whose life should this be part of exactly, and why is it acceptable for anyone to have to 'cope' with stuff like this? If this happens in a workplace, you would either quit, take out a PG, or if violence is involved, call the police.
"Why on earth does anyone expect our children to suffer through this torment and torture, in silence. Children have absolutely no power to make any sort of change to this situation themselves. There needs to be more guidance from experts researching in this field, more direction from the MoE, and perhaps many different strategies instilled in schools to deal with it, like more education on the subject, peer support from other children against the bullying, coping strategies for the kids at risk, buddy programmes and finally, some actual serious consequences if it doesn't stop. But what it will take most of all is effort, from everyone. No one parent or teacher alone can try and mitigate this. I'm not sure how you rally this support, but good on you for taking a stand and writing about your experience."
9. Sweetal says bullying at school has wider consequences for everyone and shouldn't be ignored:
"Bullying is one of the most serious issues across all of society. A lot of bully kids become bully teenagers and then bully adults, and then have kids that are bullies.... Workplaces have serious bully issues to the detriment of production and honesty. Bullies of any age lack compassion, morality and social integrity. It is an issue that in playground is ignored to the detriment of all society. Turning a blind eye and the other cheek does not work. The real impact - Suicide, violent crime and anti social behavior to name some, is life long.
"Teachers are either not efficiently trained or don't want to be ones dealing with it in schools. They should not need to be either. They should be specialists in teaching. They are certainly not behavior specialists or psychologists. Professionally trained persons need to be appointed for each school. Not a teacher or principal - they already have too much to do. This country needs to take more real action FOR children - not throw more cash at parents to be spent anywhere but on their children. Bullying is a serious issue and needs serious attention at this point to effect lifelong changes. Our judiciary currently also need to take the "school yard" violence more seriously."
8. Schools are regularly criticised when it comes to tackling bullying but kanban says they're often facing bullies of their own:
"I think the schools fear the bullies in central government more than parents. Schools need to stand firm on issues like they used to. If they can't do that then what is the point of a school?"
7. silent_bob says most schools can't do right for doing wrong when it comes to bullies.
"Schools don't ignore it. They just don't know what to do. They are powerless. If they discipline a kid they get sued. If they inform the parents, the parents do nothing. If they expell the bully and the problem moves to another school."
6. One popular suggestion was for the teachers themselves to have more support to deal with bullies, as stu.2013 pointed out:
"I believe that a lot of bullying starts because there is not enough adult supervision in our schools during break and lunch times. At best there are 1 or 2 teachers to cover the whole school. Teachers are hard-working people. They need and deserve their break times. We need to get schools to have either paid (unlikely) or voluntary adults to cover this supervisory role. The very presence of 4 to 6 suitable adults moving around all areas of the school would stop a lot of trouble before it starts."
5. No-one's suggeting there's a universal cause for bullying but lots of you, including drivenutz, questioned whether society should shoulder more of the blame:
"As a society you reap what you sow. You've taken away parents rights and given the rights to the child and look at where it has gotten the kids. Thinking they can say and do anything they like...actually they can and no one does anything about it. Unless there is a real serious rethink on discipline and the parents rights thing's are going to get far worse than they are now."
4. Of course, in an ideal world bullying would be wiped out altogether but HarryNutts reckons anyone hoping for that day to come is dreaming:
"Weak Narrow Minded people of the world. Bullying will always be around - it always has been and ALWAYS will be. You cannot control or change human nature on such a deep level. Its like trying to stop us loving, you just can't do that. What you can do and no-one is currently doing this is to teach your kids how to handle bullies and turn the situation around. Trying to ban it or stop it happening is laughable and shows people in high places have no idea what they are on about. Ask a bully if he will stop because of an ad campaign or a teacher telling them not too - guess what their answer will be."
3. There is a lot you can still do though as SmallGovtIsGood points out:
"Lay a complaint with the school, the ministry and the police. Make it plain to them all that if they don't do something about it you will. Bully's are cowards who pick on those they perceive are weak and vulnerable. They generally can't hack it when the tables are turned. Don't withdraw from the world by home schooling, changing school or something like that. That just validates the bully and let's them move onto their next victim."
2. And while we're at it, should we stop to spare a thought for the bullies? H838 reminds us that sometimes they may be victims too:
"Bullies are most likely lashing out because they have had this done to them or witness this behavior at home and it is NORMAL for them. I know your son is being bullied and that is horrible, but at least he goes home to nice parents who love him and treat him with respect. A lot of kids don't get that!"
1. And finally, for anyone worried about bullying at their own children's schools, SCNZ reminds us that sometimes there can be a peaceful resolution:
"This may help someone hopefully. When my daughter was about 10 and being badly bullied by a boy in her class I went into the classroom and spoke loudly but not angrily in front of everyone about his bullying of her and then told him that I was appointing him her protector from bullies. I could see on his face he was proud that I was giving him this job and he took it seriously. A bit of reverse psychology. They were friends from that day on and he did just that. Might work for someone else."