Says Ian Leckie, national president of the union the NZ Educational Institute. Before taking up his post with the union Mr Leckie was principal of Tahatai Coast School in the Bay of Plenty.
Bullying, both within New Zealand’s educational sector and the wider community, has been the focus of much media attention recently.
In a press release issued by the NZEI
Schools don’t need to be bullied into action
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says the Prime Minister is misguided to think that schools alone can stop bullying, as the root cause often lies well beyond the classroom.
John Key is instructing the Education Minister to write to all schools reminding them of their responsibilities and demanding they review their anti-bullying policies.
“Schools take bullying very seriously and encourage a zero-tolerance approach. They don’t need to be bullied into action,” says NZEI President Ian Leckie.
“They are already very aware of their responsibilities in terms of providing a safe environment for all their students and their programmes and policies around bullying are checked by the Education Review Office.”
“The government is naive to think just writing letters to schools demanding they review their anti-bullying policies will make the problem go away. The causes of bullying are complex and often reflect wider social issues. Parents, whanau and the wider community have a huge role to play in identifying bullying and changing behaviours,” Mr Leckie adds.
The nature of schoolyard bullying has also changed with text messaging and social networking.
“It can be more insidious and sophisticated and can happen in a range of places and contexts. Schools can often be unaware it is going on but always aim to deal with what they are made aware of,” Mr Leckie says.
“The government needs to realise that the problem of bullying does not always rest at the school gate.”
Note the rather mealy-mouthed “encourage a zero-tolerance approach”
Is it possible to encourage something as absolute as zero tolerance? There is either ZERO tolerance, or there isn’t. There’s no room for half measures here.
Whilst it is true that this problem extends beyond the school gates we think schools have a very important part to play in curbing it. Schools have got to take the lead – these are the places that are responsible for educating successive generations of New Zealanders.
If a child can’t feel safe at school, where can it?
A satirical take on the government’s handling of the bullying crisis in New Zealand’s schools
Watch an interview with Dr Janis Carroll-Lind of the Children’s Commission to find out how bad the problem is in New Zealand and what schools should be doing.
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School Daze (to be screened on 60 Minutes, TV3 on 30 March)
“Mikayla Edwards, just 13 years old, was beaten senseless by four schoolmates – hit with fists, feet and a toilet door. Today she is under 24-hour care at home and she doesn’t know when, or whether, she will ever go back to the classroom.
Mikayla is just one of a number of victims of girl-on-girl bullying in New Zealand. She and her mother talk to 60 Minutes reporter Karen McCarthy.
“A survey of more than 2000 children confirms New Zealand’s high rates of violence against children, and indicates that for every 10 children aged under 13, one has been sexually abused, six have experienced physical abuse, and eight have experienced some form of emotional abuse…”
“Western Bay principals are concerned about an email from the Secondary Schools Principals’ Association warning that changing legislation would make legal action against schools over bullying in their grounds “a real risk”. Dave Randell, principal of Tauranga’s largest secondary school Otumoetai College, said “more and more” was being asked of schools and what was being proposed “disgusts everyone”.
He said it was the first time the Government had made legal action for bullying a real possibility, as far as he was aware…”
Beating the School Bullies– (July 2008)
“An escalation of physical violence and emotional bullying in schools has sparked a major investigation by the children’s commissioner amid increasing concerns about pupil safety.
The move follows research showing violence toward New Zealand schoolchildren is high compared with other developed countries and that bullying is one of their biggest fears…
It appears that we do have high levels of physical and emotional bullying in New Zealand schools in comparison to other countries. This is historical. We’ve had this for quite some time in our schools,” she (Cindy Kiro, Children’s Commissioner) said…”
NZ Scores Second Worst in the World For Bullying in Schools“School Bullying Reflects `Culture Of Brutality’”– “New Zealand’s poor ranking in relation to primary school bullying in an international league table is a reflection of a “culture of brutality”, United Future leader Peter Dunne says.”
New Zealand’s Next Top Model Bullied At School, But At Least She’s Not Pregnant / In Prison – “I used to get punched a lot by the other Maori kids. It was constant name-calling, like `you’re ugly, you’re never going to do anything in your entire life’.”
Fairfield College Parents Angry At School Bullying – parents removed children from school
Migrant Tales – A Better Life For The Kids – “our kids have been traumatised by the abuse they suffered at a local school: our eldest daughter was being regularly bullied at school…”