- Introduce or change existing legislation to try to make bullying in schools completely illegal or at least decrease it hugely;
- Introduce a national framework to cover the entire nation's schools - as things currently stand the system differs in every state which is very confusing for everyone, particularly those families that move interstate regularly due to work commitments;
- Introduce a step programme or similar of punishment for bullies: 1 - a mild warning; 2 - more severe warning and mild punishment; 3 - very severe warning and more severe punishment; 4 - expulsion, pure and simple;
- A system for the schools to report back to the Dept of Education in their state about any bullying incidents and the reactions of the school/staff, how it was handled, who was at fault, punishment for the bully and not the victim, unless it was provoked;
- Have all schools nationwide include their policies on their websites;
- Have some sort of 'reward' system put into place for teachers and staff generally who 'do the right thing'.
I would like to see ALL of them included, as would many of the public, so I understand. I am also assured that these recommendations are quite feasible - but most of the Depts of Education that I have had contact with over the last couple of years do seem to feel that the current system is 'enough'. They all tell me that they take school bullying 'very seriously indeed' and this I can believe - to a limit. Each and every one of them has responded to my letters telling me about all the resources, specialist advice etc etc they have on hand for the use of the schools if they want it - in other words, from what I can ascertain, none of it is mandatory.
I believe that the Depts themselves set out a draft for anti-bullying policies for the schools to adopt so they can produce their own, to suit their own individual circumstances, which is absolutely fair. I now believe that there are two areas which are sadly at fault with the system as it currently exists - one is that none of the above is mandatory - yes, the schools DO have to have policies and can include the points set out by their state departments - but, nationally, I don't believe that any of the above are included across the board. I also understand (from some teachers around the nation) that in many respects, the school staff and principals are at fault. Feedback suggests that while some teachers do take this act seriously enough that they have actually set up programmes to help educate and try to decrease it, this is not necessarily being supported by their principals and when that particular teacher moves position or leaves the school, or whatever, their successor is not interested in the programme so it is forgotten, particularly if there is also no support from the principal.
And so the fight continues. I would welcome any suggestions, thoughts, feelings etc. Can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org