Anti-bullying phone service

BY CATE BROUGHTON
Last updated 15:20 15/02/2013
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Jamie Parnham

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Kaiapoi High School students affected by bullying have a new tool to help them cope.

The school is one of ten Canterbury schools to sign up to the Our Voice anti-bullying project, which includes the ability to report bullying anonymously through an 0800 number.

Students who call the 0800 PUPILS number can tell a trained operator about their situation without fear of retribution.

The information elicited from the operator is passed on to the school, who can follow it up, said Kaiapoi High School deputy principal Stephen Walters.

Follow up action would take a restorative approach and could include a staff member or counsellor speaking to the perpetrator, speaking to the victim, getting the two together, or getting families involved.

Mr Walters said the aim was to stop the behaviour and to understand the reasons behind it.

The project was the first of its kind in New Zealand.

The man behind the initiative, Glynn Taylor,  said the 0800 PUPILS phone line had been made available to students in participating schools through a partnership with Crimestoppers NZ Trust.

Another aspect to the project, in its early stages, is the development of a video resource that prepares students for bullying situations, and explores various ways to deal with them.

Mr Taylor said it was important students took ownership of the project themselves, and their involvement had seen it develop in surprising ways.

All of the content for the video resource, including the situations and the possible consequences, had come from the students, he said.

Year 11 students Jamie Parnham and Jackson Becks are leading the project at Kaiapoi High School, working with a team of eight to promote it to their fellow students. Both have been on the sharp end of bullying and were keen to get involved in the campaign.

''At primary school, I did get teased because I wasn't the fittest person,'' Jamie says.

The ability for victims of bullying to report their experiences anonymously was the best aspect of the 0800 PUPILS resource, and she was sure students would use the service.

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- The Press

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