Today the Prime Minister has written to all school principals urging them to do more to target bullying. Mr Turnbull is calling on all schools to participate in the National Day Of Action Against Bullying (NDA) on March 16, in his letter he states that this day is an opportunity for schools to stand united in their communities against bullying.
There have been critics calling the Prime Minister a hypocrite, due to the way he and his colleagues behave and bully each other in parliament.
Yes, this is true, the behaviour which goes on in parliament, is a national disgrace and these politicians should be held to account. If we behaved in this manner at our workplace, we would very soon find ourselves with out a job and possibly facing legal action.
HOWEVER, I am not going to join the voices of those who wish to diminish what the PM has done today. He has kept bullying on the National Agenda; TV news shows along with print and digital media reported the event, it was discussed on talkback radio and a clear message is being reinforced that bullying must be addressed. Schools have buried the subject for too long.
Usually following a tragic bullying event, we collectively shake our heads for a day or two and then forget the subject. Well this time, we are not going to forget it. I applaud Malcolm Turnbull for playing his part in keeping the subject front and centre in our minds. Schools have a duty of care to tackle bullying before it takes hold and causes lifelong damage.
I speak from firsthand experience, my son who is on the autism spectrum was suspended from school when he was in year 1 (he was only 6 years old!) because he defended himself against bullies. For too long the system has punished the victims or suggested that they were not the ‘right fit’ for the school. Bullying is real, bullying is damaging and bullying can be tragic.
So Prime Minister, I congratulate you for raising the issue, and I eagerly await your practical follow up by resourcing schools to better deal with the issue. Resources include: funding to implement proactive programmes, staff training and also in some cases an increased number of staff.
If any school would like to discuss how they can participate in the National Day of Action (NDA) Against Bullying, then please contact me. Richard, who was the target of bullying all through school, shares his story to school students with his talk titled “I’m Just Like Everyone Else” and for primary schools he also presents the Best MATES puppet show. For high schools, we do a joint presentation and introduce the School MATES programme which focuses on inclusion and leadership. For more details email me.