From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill
At Trinity, Every Day is a Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.
Today is the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, and it was the subject of this week’s Middle School Assembly which was run by the Year 9 Monitors. Two of them, Ashton Frazer (9Mu) and Hayden Hoang (9Ta) spoke so eloquently and maturely about the insidious nature of bullying, that I have included excerpts of their remarks this week.
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).
[An important explanatory caveat – single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not bullying, even though they are not acceptable behaviour.]
As parents, teachers and carers we can continue to speak with young people about why bullying and violence are unacceptable, and continue to teach our sons and daughters that, regardless of personal feelings, every person is entitled to have their humanity respected. This is fundamental to any conversation around bullying and violence.
We cannot opt out of our collective responsibility. We must work together to stamp out aggressive and anti-social behaviour and empower our boys and young men (girls and young women, too) to stand up against bullying and violence in all its forms, a point both Ashton and Hayden made well in their remarks to their peers.
Bullying and violence remains an issue in schools and the wider society in this day and age. Despite the values we are brought up to have, some people still feel the need to bully others as an outlet for their own struggles and insecurities. Perpetrators can target their victim through verbal abuse, violence, social exclusion or through social media. No matter the circumstance, this is unacceptable and must never be tolerated.
It is important that we address and take action, making sure that here at Trinity we maintain our anti-bullying culture. To keep this culture, you need to step in if you witness bullying or tell someone if you are being bullied. We want you to develop character, as you have heard many times. I’ve been here since Year 7, and this positive culture is definitely ingrained in our School. We Trinitarians almost always look out for each other, and it must remain this way.
However, this day is also about taking action against violence in all forms. I believe that in wider society and particularly on social media, violence is still promoted as a credible solution to issues, and we need to understand that it simply isn’t.
While bullying and violence is not common or tolerated here at Trinity, studies have shown that Australia has some of the highest rates of bullying and violence in schools. There is no ignoring the harsh statistics. The Make Bullying History Foundation surveyed 692 Australian students in 2018 and found that 59% of students nationally say they have experienced bullying, with one in five experiencing it weekly, and one in seven students don’t speak up to adults about their experience. It was estimated using data from another survey in 2016 that 70% (or 160,000) of children aged 12–13 had experienced at least one bullying-like behaviour in the 12 months before the survey. All the data points towards a school system where bullying has not yet been eradicated. Yes, it can be hard to tell someone about what has happened to you. But it is important to take action against bullying; telling a trusted adult needs to be more common.
How do we combat this bullying issue? It all comes down to respect, empathy, and good character. Empathy is crucial to help understand the impact of bullying. If one of your core values is respect, you will automatically treat others the way they should be treated. The theme for this year is ‘take action together.’ Addressing the issue of bullying can’t be done individually. We need to take action together as a School community and maintain our healthy culture. Bullying may be present in other Australian schools, but at Trinity it never will have a place.
Ashton Frazer (9Mu)
What can we do as members of the Middle School community to help those who may be victims of bullying or violence? The simplest way is to start a conversation with them. Be a friend. Be a listening ear. A ‘Hi’ and ‘How are things?’ or ‘Are you ok?’ may be enough. Our understanding and willingness to listen may be a helpful starting point.
We also have to keep in mind that we are not experts. If we feel someone we know is being bullied or they seem to have experienced violence, it is our responsibility to communicate with our support network. A network that might include our peer support leaders, teachers, Housemasters, School Psychologist, and so on. The School has an extensive support network that will provide advice and assistance in resolving conflict or how to respond to anti-social behaviour.
While social media may depict violence as a masculine way to resolve issues, we do not believe violence is an answer to anything. At Trinity, we believe it is far better to handle disagreement respectfully and constructively. It all comes down to our beliefs and character, and our respect for one another.
The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence is an annual opportunity for us as an extended community to take a stand by raising awareness and to restate our values. Edmund Burke, an 18th-century English philosopher and politician made the observation that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Hayden Hoang (9Ta)
Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill
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