Menu

Education Today Logo


newsletter

Education Today Cover Browse Issue

More help needed in stamping out bullying

Children who are bullied need support, yet recently published research from University of South Australia (UniSA) shows disappointing outcomes for anti-bullying strategies, meaning help for vulnerable children is often not there.

The national definition of bullying for Australian schools is an ‘ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm that can happen in person or online’.

UniSA Adjunct Professor in the School of Education and global expert in the prevention of bullying in schools, Ken Rigby, says that while a great deal of research has been undertaken over the last 25 years there have been comparatively few accounts of what schools say they are doing and how effective it all is.

“In Australia, approximately one student in five is bullied at school every few weeks or more often and many of these students suffer serious emotional and psychological harm, such as persistent anxiety, depression and suicidal thinking, and are unable to concentrate on their school work,” Rigby says.

“These children clearly need help yet my recent research published in the Australian Journal of Education showed mixed results from both reactive and proactive anti-bullying strategies currently being adopted in Australian schools.

“While all schools in the study acknowledged that bullying of different kinds was occurring, estimates of its prevalence differed widely.

“Bullying included students being ignored or left out, followed by being teased in a hurtful way, having nasty stories told about one, being kicked, made to feel afraid, having cruel things said about the victim online, being racially harassed, being harassed online and being sexually harassed.

“My research showed that proactive anti-bullying strategies were never entirely successful in preventing cases of bullying from occurring completely, although schools generally reported a substantial degree of effectiveness.

“Similarly, reactive strategies were only partially successful in reducing bullying and schools indicated a need for more effective training in the application of anti-bullying methods, especially in tackling cases of actual bullying.”

School communities should be encouraged to share anti-bullying policies, strategies and programs, something Rigby’s research shows is often not happening. Most schools claimed that they discuss their anti-bullying policy with parents, but 28 per cent of schools in the survey actually did not do so.

“Given the importance of teacher–parent cooperation in preventing bullying and effectively addressing cases of bullying, the failure to involve parents at some schools limits the effectiveness of this example of a proactive strategy.

“Judgements about the value of strategies that were used in schools to address bullying ranged from talks at school assemblies being the least positively rated to effective classroom management being the most positively rated.

Schools indicated that more effective training in using anti-bullying methods, especially in tackling cases of actual bullying, would be welcomed.


30 Apr 2017 | Australia
New Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden recipes and activities book News Image

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (SAKGF) has launched its latest educational resource Step-by-Step Visual Cooking and Gardening: Accessible Recipes and Garden Activities. Read More

29 Apr 2017 | Australia
Schools not dressing girls for success News Image

School uniform codes that force female students to wear dresses and skirts are discriminatory and are affecting girls’ health and wellbeing according to Girls’ Uniform Agenda, an organisation launched in March. Read More

28 Apr 2017 | International
High test results in Asian schools, but at what cost News Image

The OECD recently published the findings of its first student well-being study. It shows that while East Asian countries are at the top of the league table of test scores they are at the bottom in student well-being. Read More

27 Apr 2017 | NSW
Applications for 2017 NSW Eco Schools Grants now open News Image

Educators and school communities in NSW are once again being encouraged to apply for an Eco Schools Grant to encourage their students to learn about the environment and develop an appreciation of it. Read More

27 Apr 2017 | Australia
Research: girls read while boys are encouraged in maths News Image

Girls from low and middle socio-economic backgrounds are better at reading than boys, while boys from high-socio-economic backgrounds are better at mathematics than girls, according to new research. Read More