A peer-led program at Trinity Anglican College, Thurgoona is empowering students to understand it is in their hands to stop bullying.
Year 12 students recently launched a new anti-bullying approach at the college, which aims to encourage all students to look out for and stand up for one another.
The new Respect at Trinity (RAT) campaign comes on the back of a national survey that reveals one in four students have been bullied from primary to high school.
At the same time only 36 per cent of those bullied have reported it, according to the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (ACBPS) of 20,000 students (8 – 14 years).
More worrying was the finding that peers are present in 87 per cent of bullying – “most as onlookers who do nothing to help the victim”.
Year 12 students Sarah McDiarmid, Monique Conibear, Pippa Russell and Connor Lindegreen helped present the anti-bullying initiative to their senior secondary peers on February 28.
They agreed peer-led leadership to stop bullying was vital to building a healthy school community.
Monique Conibear said sometimes it was the not-so-obvious bullying that could be more destructive and less likely to be reported.
“It’s subtle things like hurtful teasing or excluding someone,” she said.
Connor Lindegreen agreed most students understood that physical bullying was unacceptable.
He said it was also important, particularly for boys, to recognise the implications of personal attacks or practical jokes that go too far.
“We need to be more aware of crossing the line between what is funny and what is hurtful,” he said.
Pippa Russell said she believed that bullying was anything that negatively affected someone’s self-esteem.
“Where someone may have broken down another’s self-worth to the point where they are too scared to come to school,” she said.
All agreed bullying could be more pervasive and insidious online where anonymity allowed harassment to flourish.
But whether it’s occurring in cyberspace, the classroom or quadrangle, Sarah McDiarmid said the most important thing was to speak up.
“We all have a responsibility to tell someone else to stop, to speak out or to reach out for help if we see bullying happening,” she said.
School counsellor Dr Anthony Perrone said the main aim of the program was to build positive relationships and to intervene efficiently when incidents did occur.
“Students will be equipped to feel a sense of empowerment in dealing with situations of bullying,” he said.
Student involvement may include: role-playing; short films, artwork or posters; wristbands; hosting guest speakers; or providing the space to report bullying without fear of consequence.