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Challenging Bullying with Action

My Kitchen Rules, Married at First Sight, The Apprentice, Hell’s Kitchen, Biggest Loser and Dance Moms are only a few of the many reality television shows currently flooding the networks. Reality television has become a huge part of our television viewing culture.

Many viewers report that the programming of reality television is highly entertaining and a step away from their own reality. There is melodrama, bullying, gossip and several dysfunctional interpersonal relationships on display. It may be clear to many adults that not all is “real” in the world of reality television. However, how do children and adolescents understand the world of reality television and what it is teaching them? How does it affect their attitudes, beliefs interactions and concepts of what makes for a respectful relationship?

Reality television generally reveals inappropriate behavior amongst groups of people while promoting themes of aggression and bullying. Only recently we as a community committed to take a stand against such behaviour by supporting the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. This day of action was acknowledged by the College community and was a timely reminder that bullying and violence continues to occur in our society from the local school yard to our big city corporate companies and is as far reaching as our very own homes through digital technology. Our focus as a College, and not only throughout the campaign, is through a positive lens promoting aspects of positive and respectful relationships. The students spent some time focusing on the concept of ‘Brotherhood’. All students were challenged to consider what the term ‘Brotherhood’ meant, what it looks like, how we support our fellow brothers and how we, as community, treat each other.

At the Junior School Assembly students launched their #ATCbrotherhood365 campaign. Take a look at their wonderful video:

Research tells us that the peak of bullying in Australia occurs around periods of transition, especially when students move from primary school to secondary school. We also know that some children’s emotional empathy is not well developed so their threshold for tolerating difference in others is very low. Bullying behaviors are not necessarily easily solved and therefore it is important that all stakeholders need to be are involved – parents, the school and the wider community.

Schools have different ways of managing bullying but here at ATC students are invited to be involved in a process of restorative justice or mediation. If all parties are committed to the process of genuinely seeking a resolution this process can work very well. Through a mediation process students may be helped to see that acknowledging poor behaviours takes courage. Forgiveness is necessary in helping everyone move forward and it is reinforced that we are each accountable for our actions. Intimidation and humiliation have no place in resolving relationship issues and we are committed to move forward, determined to learn from past mistakes.

If your child shares with you that they are being bullied at school, take their concerns seriously. You might also be keen to read the other strategies available on the NCAB website.

So as we continue the ongoing task of saying no to bullying, gossiping, discouraging aggressive behavior and promoting positive respectful relationships, we need to constantly consider the impacts of what our children are being exposed to online, monitor their social media and use opportunities as they arise to develop your child’s emotional intelligence and resilience. This is true for all children – whether they are the targets of bullies or perpetrators themselves.

With best wishes

Siobhan Brophy, Paul Toon and Kate Nankivell