Survival of the Fittest His sweaty palms clutch a few coins. The bus line moves forward. Ticket paid for, a quick glance to the back of the bus. They wait, feeding off his panic and distress as he walks to his seat. Fiona Dove investigates teen bullying. Survival of the fittest has been a notion well accepted by society when applied to animals. The strong and the weak battle it out to determine who will be supreme. Does this theory apply to bully behaviour? If three-quarters of Australian households have at least one person affected by bullying are our children fighting a battle, which will determine how they conduct their lives?
The Education of Queensland Child Protection Act defines bullying as “The abuse of power with the intention of causing distress to other person(s)…” Bullying is a poisonous weed within society. Research shows that children who bully at a young age have a higher risk of committing felonies as an adult and becoming a criminal. Indeed victims of bullying have experienced psychological damage so severe it lead to suicide. Chanelle Rae was fourth student from Western Height College in Geelong, Victoria to commit suicide in a five-month period. Chanelle was a zealous supporter of the Geelong cats.
Her idol Corey Enright a cats team member was pallbearer at her funeral. However on the 17th of July in 2009 Chanelle committed suicide after a brutal cyber bullying attack. [pic] It’s natural, so what’s wrong with this Picture? With technology constantly advancing this generation has much more choice in torturous devices than 20 years ago. Mobile phones, Internet physical violence and smear campaigns are all weapons in a bully’s arsenal. With all this at a bully’s disposal victims are in a constant state of trepidation unsure as to which direction the blow will come from.
Television programmes preach that only those who fit the stereotype of a “Nerd” are bullied in society; the reality is that a bully can target anyone. Insecurities, fear and jealousy are the underlying emotions that bullies deal with by intimidating and antagonizing others. As a consequence of young people being herded together for extended periods of time, the instinct to overpower and “bully” others is natural. As caregivers we should be asking ourselves whether bubble wrapping and shrouding children from the public domain mean that they have insufficiently developed social skills?
Are we, ironically, making children revert back to the battle for supremacy? With one in five students having been harassed at school and at least one in three children bullied almost daily, only a fool would say that bullying in schools is a minor problem. “Bullying will always be a part of school culture,” agrees Alison Heder a school bus driver. To change the bullying culture children need to be told from a very young age that telling a trusted adult, whether it may be a school counsellor or a parent in OK and not “tattle-telling”. Rather than being sheltering children should be out learning how to behave.
Instead of being thrown straight into the sharks at the age of six when school starts, the transition from home to school would be less of an ordeal for children if the basic foundations of good communication were already in place. Queensland Government Department of Education and Training, Code of School Behaviour requires that schools provide a safe and supportive learning environment. When asked about her thoughts on this in regards to the current bullying issues Alison exclaimed “It’s not the schools fault! Parents need to teach their children acceptable behaviour through example”
Studies have shown that with effective communication between the school and home in most cases is able to stop the bully and help the students move forward. On the other hand when the student is too afraid to reach out for help the result can be fatal. On the 15th of February 2010 a young boy encountered a terrible fate. Elliot Fletcher, at just 12 years old was stabbed in the chest. This story was met with shock Australia wide as the reality of bullying in schools was realised. The well-established Catholic school, St. Patrick’s College, recorded 380 absences out of 1100 after the news of Elliot’s passing had spread.
The reputation of all Private schools was further tarnished as several more violent attacks were reported. Parents are now questioning how the government is handling the bullying epidemic. Alison Heder concurred that the government’s current handle on the bullying situation is as ineffectual as it is inadequate. Whilst bullying may never be truly eliminated from society the aim of new bullying campaigns is to inform the victims of bullies of the various resources each school has to help them stop the bullying and move on from the traumatic experiences.
Hotheaded, savage and ungovernable; dread, panic, terror; from covert and subtle to openly ridiculing. Natural or not, bullying is not something to be pushed away to the sides where it festers and thrives. The culture of society must first change if we are to eradicate this practice. Bibliography Personal Interview • Heder, Alison. 1961. Working. Local School Bus Driver, interviewed 19th February 2010. Newspaper Articles • Tomazin, Farrah. “3/4 of Australian Households have at least one Person who has been Bullied”, The Age, 20th March 2010. • Ironside, Robyn.
Vogler, Sarah. “Boy, 12, dies after being stabbed at St. Patrick’s College Shorncliffe”, The Courier Mail, 20th March 2010. • Scott, Edwina. “Hundreds Gather for Suicide Teen’s Funeral”, The Courier Mail, 20th March 2010. • Chilcott, Tanya. “School Bullying Shame: Three Children a Class Bullied Daily”, The Courier Mail, 20th March 2010. • Ironside, Robyn. Chilcott, Tanya. “Pupils Struggle with Heartbreak after Boy Stabbed to Death in Brisbane School”, The Herald Sun, 20th March 2010. Websites • Anon. 2000. Code of School Behaviour. http://education. ld. gov. au/studentservices/behaviour/bm-codebehav. html. (Accessed 20th March. 2010) • Anon. 2007. Child Protection Act 1999. http://www. childsaftey. qld. gov. au/legislation/child-protection/child-protection-act-1999. html. (Accessed 20th March. 2010) • Field, Evelyn. 2003. Bully Blocking. www. bullying. com. au/school-bullying/. (Accessed 21st March 2010) ———————– “Children are terrified to go to the school guidance counsellor because they are afraid that the bully will find out they’ve been tattle-telling,” tells Alison Heder
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