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Bullying laws in ACT schools

Delish 24 February 2011 24

Is there any policy and or consistency of how the ACT deals with bullying in schools?

I witnessed a girl trying to hide a swollen face and bruised eye on the bus, she was naturally distressed and was not like being on the bus but was her only way to the Dr’s. She was with her mother who was trying to ease her embarrassment and pain, the mother and myself started up a conversation and she told me that her daughter had been the victim of bullying. She had been chased down and hit by a girl who was older and bigger.

This sounded very stressing and targeted by the bully, so I asked what was happening as a result. The ‘punishment’ for the offender is either two things – the offender can either write a letter of apology OR be suspended. Wait for it – it is the offender that chooses what there punishment is. The girl who was bashed and embarrassed on the action bus has no say in what the punishment is. Of course the child chose ‘the letter’. Further more to this there is no indication as the whether the parents are informed. (This is Gungahlin college policy)

The girl and her mother are now getting a restraining / DVO order out on the offender to protect the child (victim) at school and outside. As the school has done nothing further to kerb and or stop the bullying.

I feel that there is no consistency in the ACT and it is purely up to the school how they deal with bullying. Another bad school is St Thomas Aquinas. I was informed that the school had an ‘old school policeman’ from the Yass area. So I have thought that he would have a no tolerance and or ‘know’ his school. The school was introduced to a UK family that had migrated from the UK – with the tag ‘they come from poverty’.

Girls hit the school with some most colourful language which included – sl*ts, to all the girls, stinky filthy black boongs to all the Indigenous and Africans, Asians were just spat on.

The parents naturally had a few issues with this family including myself and when I ‘took it up with the school’ I was told that they were from poverty (UK kids). Most of these children live in conditions that are low income earners and some from poverty however there rights were not listen too at all and there ‘absences’ from school were stacking up. The problem was never dealt with and these UK girls have not been punished and UK girls have now moved from the school to high school.

I do not think that victims should be sentencing how the bully is punished but we need to remember that a victim is a victim. I am not saying we should have corporal punishments but I do believe that we should have a consistent policy on school bullying in schools. This should be across the board both public, private and catholic… Have you or you child been a victim of bullying? What was the result… Please any information in relation would be good…

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24 Responses to Bullying laws in ACT schools
LSWCHP LSWCHP 8:26 pm 25 Feb 11

vg said :

“My wife recently returned to work after an outrageous bullying incident”

By the way, what did you do about it, out of curiousity. If I discovered my wife was the subject of similiar I’d accompany her to work and ask her to point out the miscreant

Damn straight. People who harm my family suffer repercussions.

When she told me about it, I asked for the email address of the SES officer in charge of her group and sent him an LSWCHP-gram expressing my extreme displeasure. There has been some subsequent communication.

On Monday I will be attending her workplace and elaborating on my displeasure in person. Honestly, this won’t be pleasant and I’m not looking forward to it, but a man’s gotta do etc…

Regarding the thing I’m dealing with, the dude was asked to show cause, and he did. We’re not vindictive loonies, and sacking someone is the worst possible outcome all around, so we’re trying to figure out how to help him out.

Life is full of surprises.

JustThinking JustThinking 5:52 pm 25 Feb 11

Tooks said :

Any idea why the mother in the OP didn’t report the assault to police?

Tooks, most times the police just contact the school and if the school says they are dealing with it nothing else is done (by the police)
Bullying on school grounds isn’t usually dealt with by police the same as assaults/bullying in jail isn’t.

To the OP, sadly it is common in ALL states. No matter how many new “No Bullying” ads the Education Dept put out they are basically all BS..
The Education Dept is in most states is about as useless as tits on a bull when it comes to bullying.

Problem is bullies usually hang in a group and pick on a loner. So when a complaint is made and they interview all concerned..You get one loner point of view and 5 bully points of view. Loner always ends up looking like a liar…(Loner doesn’t have the time to look for other witnesses and other witnessses hardly ever step up as they know they will cop it next)

EvanJames EvanJames 12:03 pm 25 Feb 11

We just had some bullying training at work and it was clear the HR person was just covering the company’s arse. The preferred course of action is to have the victim talk to a contact officer… and “often all they want to do is talk to someone and then it’s all OK”. As if. Then the next preferred course of action is to get the victim and the bully to talk to each other. Kill me now.

I do like Captain RAAF’s suggestion though, elaborate but so satisfying if it works!

Captain RAAF Captain RAAF 9:52 am 25 Feb 11

vg said :

“My wife recently returned to work after an outrageous bullying incident”

By the way, what did you do about it, out of curiousity. If I discovered my wife was the subject of similiar I’d accompany her to work and ask her to point out the miscreant

VG, people are scared. You now have to justify defending your own when they are assaulted or in some way harmed, physically or mentally. The consequences seem only to apply to the victim and what they do, not to the perpetrator. I see this culture all the time in what I do for a living, people are too scared to speak up, too worried they will do their career harm if they point something out that is glaringly obvious to everyone.

Bully’s are part of this problem. Teachers and other education department officials are too scared of the consequences of making a stand. Remember, a lot of bullies, maybe not the majority but a damn lot of them, are from low socio-economic groups or ethnic backgrounds, if you haul them up as bullies they and their supporters will pull the equity card out and call you a racist or claim you are blaming the fact that the kid comes from a low income family that has rights, even if those ‘rights’ allow the bully to impinge on the rights of many dozens of victims.

A punch in the face still works though, use it wisely!

busgirl busgirl 9:18 am 25 Feb 11

OK Captain RAAF…now you’re back to being amusing!

I too was bullied at school (an all-girls Catholic College) by three horrible girls who chose me because I was quiet. So much for wholesome Christian behaviour. Where in the bible does it say to set off the fire extinguisher on someone? Sending bullies to bootcamp is a great idea. Flog ’em till they have no energy left to bully.

housebound housebound 11:23 pm 24 Feb 11

KCL said :

I would love to know about the excellent schools you are refering to

The general rule is to find a ‘small’ school – less than 200 kids (and less than 150 is even better). There’s a couple in Belconnen (one guvvie, one catholic), and a couple in the inner north. I wouldn’t recommend a ‘big’ school to anyone these days.

vg vg 10:44 pm 24 Feb 11

“My wife recently returned to work after an outrageous bullying incident”

By the way, what did you do about it, out of curiousity. If I discovered my wife was the subject of similiar I’d accompany her to work and ask her to point out the miscreant

LSWCHP LSWCHP 10:01 pm 24 Feb 11

Captain RAAF said :

Find out where the Bully lives……

work of diabolical genius deleted…

Win/Win/Win….and maybe Win!

Captain, we are not worthy. My hat is off to you.

Brianna Brianna 9:19 pm 24 Feb 11

Captain RAAF – you’re evil! I like it!

LSWCHP – I am glad you are trying to run a bully free work place.

Pommy bastard – You are correct in saying that politics have ruined teaching as a profession. Excusing the behaviour of the thugs is exactly what they are doing and by doing that, they are victimising the victims!

Trevar – Yes! “It’s assault and should be dealt with by the police, no matter how young the victims and perpetrators are.”

BlackIce BlackIce 9:19 pm 24 Feb 11

None of this touchy-feely crap. Send bullies to bootcamp!

Captain RAAF Captain RAAF 8:35 pm 24 Feb 11

Find out where the Bully lives…….be patient (it is essential)…..start small by poisoning a few select plants or lobbing an old oil filter at their front door (this is your recon mission, suss out security, see what happens, get a feel for the place, plus an oil filter can make for good shits and giggles if someone who doesn’t know what it is picks it up and runs around with it dripping oil everywhere), return a week or so later and draw a large penis and the letters AFP under it with Roundup on their front lawn, superglue the letterbox flap closed, run off, giggling.

Now they’ll know someone is up to shenanigans (the penis will not reveal itself for about 4-5 days though). Just as you can see the penis and large AFP letters have revealed themselves, make up a parcel, address it to them with a return address pointing to a nobody in Thailand, put a cheap and crappy Asian style souvenir in it that is hollow and with a cap, zip or other opening system on it that can be stuffed into their letter box slot (pencil cases are ideal, use a Pikachu one for plausability reasons), fill item with an obscure white powder in little baggies (don’t use flour, sugar, salt etc, shop around find something obscure and bitter to the taste if possible).

Excited at getting a parcel, they will destroy their letterbox to get it out, that’s win number 1, or maybe 2, I lost count, anyway,

They will do one of two things once they find the souvenir contains ‘drugs’,
1. Contact the AFP in a mad panic, the AFP will attend to find a large penis and AFP burned into the lawn and bags of some innocent substance, i.e. they will consider themselves to have been f*#ked around by these idiots and they will now be on the local plods radar as time wasters and sh*t magnets.
2. They will try to sell off/snort the white powder and find themselves buzzless and sick or being hunted down by druggies who will now target their house for all future burglary attempts.

Win/Win/Win….and maybe Win!

LSWCHP LSWCHP 8:32 pm 24 Feb 11

EvanJames said :

Bullying in any situation seems to be dealt-with poorly. Has anyone seen bullying dealt-with effectively in the workplace? I never have. .

My wife recently returned to work after an outrageous bullying incident (after a long string of minor incidents) in the APS. We’ll see how that pans out, but I don’t hold great hopes.

On the other hand, bullying, harassment and improper behaviour is dealt with very bloody quickly indeed in my workplace, because I take care of business, and I have zero tolerance for this sort of offensive bullshit. I also have a supportive CEO and HR manager, which helps a lot.

Like so many others it seems, I went through a lot of crap as a kid. Most of my staff are geeky(*) engineers who no doubt went through the same thing, and I don’t want any of them to have to put up with crap as adults in the workplace. I’m dealing with an incident right now, after a couple of other incidents, and the show cause letter (ie why should we not terminate you immediately?) has been written and will be presented to the offender shortly. I can’t wait.

Although we’re still surrounded by legislation and regulation, there are advantages to be being a manager in the private sector.

(*) I use that term in the sense of likeable, highly educated, highly intelligent, extremely dedicated professionals with occasional difficulties in the social interaction arena.

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 8:22 pm 24 Feb 11

It’s all own to the trendy lefty policies that have damn near ruined teaching as a profession.

Schools do not see it right to punish the perpetrator in any way, its all about mediating, under standing, conflict resolution, and other totally ineffectual bullsh!t bing claptrap.

The instigator will get as much, if not more, counseling and understanding as their victinm because; “Hey, they may come from a poor home, be victims of bullying themselves, and have poor role models, so lets not make the situation worse!. Lets all have a game of shareball, and try to communicate our inner child’s needs, in a non-threatening, holistic, nurturing, manner.”

Insead of giving the thugs the expulsion theyy warrant, they reinforce their bad behaviour by euxcusing it and denying the bullies culpability.

Tooks Tooks 7:15 pm 24 Feb 11

Any idea why the mother in the OP didn’t report the assault to police?

KCL KCL 6:39 pm 24 Feb 11

it seems schools are in a state of denial when it comes to dealing with”difficult children”&their”difficult parents”(which is 99.9% cause of the problems in the first place)…i have been following the progress of a beautiful but behavourly challenged 8yo at Lyneham primary for the last few years and have been appauled at the way the teachers are aware of problems but CHOOSE to do nothing about it and the poor kid is getting deeper in the downward spiral.I have a 3yo that will be part of “the system” and to give him the best chance at education i have chosen to home school him when the time comes but i desperatly want to send him to school so i can coninue with my life too so housebound if u r reading this i would love to know about the excellent schools you are refering to

EvanJames EvanJames 5:09 pm 24 Feb 11

Bullying in any situation seems to be dealt-with poorly. Has anyone seen bullying dealt-with effectively in the workplace? I never have. At least with a physical assault like that visited on the schoolgirl in the story, you can get help from the police, there is action. But the usual harassment and bullying that goes on in schools, workplaces, no one seems to want to grapple with that.

If a school takes action against a bully, chances are the delightful parents will pull out all the stops to defend their lovely child, the school will be on the back foot defending itself and come off badly. Everyone’s got rights these days, but none of us seems better off for it.

In the case of workplaces, they actively seem to reward bullies by promoting them. Their way of behaving is apparently what business wants. Recruitment companies love them, too, as the staff turnover they cause is dollars for the recruiters.

Davo111 Davo111 5:03 pm 24 Feb 11

Send the bullies for an 3 day “holiday” in juvenile detention.

housebound housebound 4:59 pm 24 Feb 11

Not all schools are the same. I can name a few excellent schools that don’t have systemic bullying problems. None of them are the big schools.

trevar trevar 4:36 pm 24 Feb 11

The ACT Department of Education’s policy on bullying is available here. If a school is not in compliance with this policy, the Department can intervene, but the problem with bullying is that it’s never black and white, and many bullies grow ever more wise about ensuring that their bullying can’t be proven. They do this by using tactics that allow their words and actions to be interpreted one way in the eyes of the law, and another way in the eyes of the victim. Against this onslaught, laws and policies are useless.

The victim you met, while obviously suffering, was somewhat more fortunate than some victims. Physical violence, while not in the power of a school to control, is illegal, and the police can sometimes do something about it. I think it’s wrong to call this bullying. It’s assault and should be dealt with by the police, no matter how young the victims and perpetrators are.

Police and teachers, however, can never do anything significant about name-calling, slander and undermining the self-esteem of others. Everyone involved (victims, teachers, parents, friends, schools, police) are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Often the intervention exacerbates the bullying, and occasionally I even have to sympathise with the bully as well.

With several years experience as a teacher, several more as a youth worker, and a couple of decades as a victim of bullying, I do not know of anything that can be done to stop bullying. I have seen bullying behaviours reduced, I have seen harm reduced, and I have seen the victims’ resilience increased, but bullying is more insidious than racism and sexism, and if we can’t eradicate these in the adult population, how can we hope to remove bullying from the child population?

As much as I think the problem is hopeless, I still think the best thing that can be done is to develop resilience in all young people. This has the potential to reduce both instances of bullying and the harmful effects of bullying. Otherwise, the whole topic is just a depressing mess of passing the blame onto another person, agency or organisation.

John Moulis John Moulis 4:16 pm 24 Feb 11

I would suggest that schools are dealing with bullying the same way they always have – by ignoring it.

When I was at high school in the early 1970s I was constantly bullied and called racist and obscene names. I reacted by withdrawing from everything and everybody around me. I never told my parents as my father would have screamed at me, severely bashed me and told me it was all my own fault.

I did, however receive an insight into how the issue was dealt with when I overheard the deputy principal saying to a parent who was complaining about bullying and name-calling: “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it”.

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