by Carolyn Aston
Cherie Taylor, mother of Yr 8 son, Josh, who suicided following months of traumatic bullying, is calling for changes in the law against bullying. (https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/my-son-was-bullied-to-death-it-s-time-for-anti-bullying-laws?alert_id=oQyXVOMxHj_lPQPCzPGpu&utm_campaign=48366&utm_medium=email&utm_source=action_alert)
Her heartbreaking story highlights the pervasive sense of helplessness that may occur in the victim of bullying, his/her parents and the school. It can be very difficult to think clearly or know where to seek help under these circumstances. Cherie Taylor highlights how frightening school can be for 160,000 Australian students who miss school daily as a result of bullying. Schools which are often a safe haven for our students may also be perceived as a living nightmare.
When the victim or target is too fearful to seek help, this can embolden their bully to intensify his/her attacks; confident that there will be no consequences. If victims struggle to voice their difficulties, others need to do it for them. Parents and teachers need to be aware that some students avoid seeking help for fear of adults either exacerbating their situation, removing their mobile/iPad or retaliation by the bully. (Cross, D. et al)
Our CASSE Peaceful Schools Program recognises that any of us can assume a victim, bully or bystander role and teaches our students to observe others and to intervene effectively as Upstanders at school or online. We equip our students with lifelong skills, including conflict resolution and reflecting and responding empathically under pressure rather than retaliating.
Our preventative, proactive approach assists students to speak up with support from staff, leadership and their peers. CASSE schools take student concerns seriously and follow up accordingly.
Desmond Tutu (iconoclasts ABC 12/3/14) on reflecting on mankind, acknowledges the destructive violence manifested by some individuals but emphasises the good achieved by altruistic people.
Our Peaceful Schools Program recognises altruistic individuals as the most important resource in school communities as they lead the way in caring for others and responding with a level head during conflict.
Cherie Taylor in her passionate call for changes in law against bullying is truly an Upstander, giving voice to those silenced in despair who desperately need our help.