Bullying

March 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

Video images of a 15-year-old Wanganui schoolgirl being kicked to unconsciousness by another girl in her class, have moved the Prime Minister to have all schools review their attitude to .

“I worry about bullying,” he said, “I worry about youngsters going to school and being intimidated …” His concern sounds genuine, not driven by an opinion poll. If schools find it a little galling that he thinks they need this reminder, they should make the best of it.

They may have given a great deal of attention to bullying in its various forms, and devised carefully considered policies to guide their response to it, but this is their opportunity to assess whether the policy is working and give further thought to alternatives.

I thought the PM wrote to all schools was a good idea. It isn’t about finger pointing, but it would ensure that at the next board meeting there is a discussion about the current anti-bullying and activities, and whether they can be improved.

But sadly the NZEI gets all defensive, and puts out a PR saying:

Schools don’t need to be bullied into action

The education sector union Te Riu Roa says the Prime Minister is misguided to think that schools alone can stop bullying, as the root cause often lies well beyond the classroom.

John Key is instructing the Education Minister to write to all schools reminding them of their responsibilities and demanding they review their anti-bullying policies.

“Schools take bullying very seriously and encourage a zero-tolerance approach. They don’t need to be bullied into action,” says NZEI President Ian Leckie.

You know this really pisses me off. How dare Mr Leckie compare a letter from the Prime Minister to bullying, such as we saw with the 15 year old being beaten up. That just screams to me that the NZEI does in fact not give a fuck about bullying, if they just see it as a term to bash the Prime Minister with.

Leckie should be ashamed of that press release. It trivialises the issue.

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61 Responses to “Bullying”

  1. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    What a fucking twat. He contradicts himself when he says “Schools take bullying very seriously and encourage a zero-tolerance approach.” If they really did take a zero-tolerance approach (ie expelling anyone who bullies another pupil more than once) then “schools alone CAN stop bullying” by simply removing the bullies from the equation.

    And before anyone starts bawling about how the little dears will get an education if they can’t go to school, I don’t really give a fuck. If they have to be taught in a shite school packed with crap teachers and all the other bullies, then good. Whether they learnt their bullying behaviour from others or it was innate, showing the misguided bastards that there are consequences for their actions will teach them an even better lesson. If they have to be taught in a shite school packed with crap teachers and all the other bullies, perhaps

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  2. backster (2,106 comments) says:

    Well as long as the attitude of the Principals and School Trustees is that the bully also needs to be understood and treated with compassion then they will deserve the derision they receive from anyone with a bit of commonsense. Caning and discipline worked in the past and is the only answer.

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  3. annie (540 comments) says:

    One of my kids was bullied at school, and the headmaster couldn’t have given a rat’s ass. Till she hit the little bastard, a boy, back, then she got disciplined. It all became a little clearer when the headmaster was later jailed for interfering with some of the boys at the school.

    The NZEI needs to recognise that not all teachers are saints and not all schools care about bullying.

    I was listening to Michael Laws in the car this morning (I know, I know – but there was some music/arts stuff that drove me away from National Radio, and my car only gets 3 stations..), and a lot of parents were saying that complaints to the police resulted in the cops telling them to get over it, basically. The police refused to take action even in quite serious assaults.

    Maybe Mr Key should issue directions to the police as well as to the schools.

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  4. Bed Rater (239 comments) says:

    YEAH! YOU LEAVE OUR PRIME MINISTER ALONE!

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  5. peterwn (3,192 comments) says:

    NZEI represents primary teachers and some anciliary staff in high schools. The bullying is mainly occurring in high schools, so the NZEI is merely politically grandstanding. Interesting to hear what PPTA says – its members are on the sharp end of the bullying problem.

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  6. wreck1080 (3,787 comments) says:

    Schools don’t give a crap about bullying. It will always happen, this is human nature. Happens in workplaces between grown adults too.

    Which is why my kid is doing karate. He should have achieved black belt by the time he is 10 or 11 and has no characteristics that would attract bullies anyway.

    I remember in my school (in south auckland in the late 80′s), a maori thug who was also bigger than most of the teachers decided he might like to have a go at me. Fortunately, we had a common friend who said I was a good guy so he moved on to the next victim.

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  7. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    “Don’t you say anything bad about our members” from the unions, now there’s a surprise. Pity the teachers don’t walk away from their gang and form a proper professional body.

    May that criminal piece of dirt enjoy a lifetime of getting raped and bashed in jail.
    While we’re at it, this whole pretence that 15 year old thugs are harmless children who just need a hug could do with a shake-up.

    I am liking this trend of bullies providing damning video evidence of their own actions though, may it continue.

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  8. flipper (3,767 comments) says:

    This circa mid 1950s…….

    I was bullied at High School…. and then I learned real Olympic wrestling (I was v good).

    The bully (To be fair, he later became a HB/NI rugby player of some note) tried it once too often.
    He chased me to my home and then nursed his broken nose and dislocted shoulder for weeks.
    But he never again bullied me or any other pupil at Napier Boys High School.

    As for the school – the Headmaster knew the next day. He grinned and said: “Are you ok?”

    As for NZEI/PPTA – get stuffed you irrelevant idiots.

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  9. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Had the letter come from Prime Minister Helen Clark or Prime Minister Andrew Little, I am sure Leckie’s response would have been that it was encouraging to have the clear support of the Government in the struggle against bullying.

    The press release should be treated accordingly

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  10. lastmanstanding (1,233 comments) says:

    Bullying in schools and in the workplace is much under estimated. We still have the gung ho attitude of toughen up and yet when those being bullied fight back they are the ones who are punished.

    The teachers unions are a bunch of useless waste of oxygen full of PC bullshit. They encourage bullying by taking no action against the perps.

    The parents of bullies are the other problem.

    Parents of those being bullied should seek out other parents and bring collective pressure on the Plod and the schools to take action.

    Go to the media and name and shame the Plod and teachers who refuse to take action. That will get the bastards moving.

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  11. GPT1 (2,101 comments) says:

    Pretty pathetic really. Talk about going off the deep end. Akin to invoking godwins law on anything you disagree with really.

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  12. wf (390 comments) says:

    I was told about a similar incident, totally unprovoked, at a Taupo high school just last week by a mum who is also a community mental health worker.
    She says that these kids should be routinely blood tested for drugs, especially p, whose consumers she has a lot of contact with.

    Sounds sensible to me.

    If my kid came home and told me about being bullied, I would be marching off down to the school at 3pm to pick my kid up, then introduce myself to the bully and fixing it with a beady eye, comment that

    I’VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT YOU, AND I’M VERY PLEASED TO MEET YOU! AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

    There’s something about a beady-eyed mum can make any other kid watch their step. All the time.

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  13. Sonny Blount (1,847 comments) says:

    Thats how you deal with bullies:

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  14. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    A woman said on Sean plunket’s talkback programme this morning that a lot of kids came from crap homes who didn’t turn to bullying.

    Plunket interviewed Pat Walsh of the Principals’ Federation. There is a lot of sophisticated talk being talked that hides ducking and diving by schools. Walsh said that child youth and family needed to get involved more to ‘work with’ some families (cue words such as ‘at risk’, ‘dysfunctional’, etc etc).

    Bullying might well be the cliche’d tip of the iceberg. But kids understand strength and power very well — who has it, who doesn’t.

    Little Johnny the bully understands very well that if he tries to bully little Hohepa then little Hohepa will hit him back either just as hard, or harder. So little Johnny leaves little Hohepa alone. Little Johnny’s dysfunctional home life doesn’t come into it.

    But if little Johnny knows that little Oscar won’t retaliate, and instead will say: ‘Stop it! I don’t like it,’ what is little Johnny going to do?

    He’s going to make little Oscar’s life hell because he knows he will get away with it. Not only that, but little Oscar’s ‘Stop it! I don’t like it’ is only going to add to the fun.

    Diane Levy, quoted in the Herald on Sunday, doesn’t know how much more she has added to the misery of little Oscar and a whole lot of other kids when she advocated that response to children.

    Bullies don’t care if you don’t like it. They rather like it all the more.

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  15. Banana Llama (1,105 comments) says:

    Casey Heynes showed the world how to deal with bullys.

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  16. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    WF:

    I did that to the 10 year-old who punched my 10 year-old daughter in the stomach. I went to the school, and into the classroom, sat down beside him and told him most pleasantly and amiably: “If you touch my daughter again I will be waiting for you outside the school gate.”

    I told a teacher about it about a year later and she was outraged. It was ‘not appropriate’ (a prissy word of disapproval, I think, said by prissy people such as counsellors, school teachers, social workers, and bureaucrats). I was no better than the bully. And, fair enough, I might not have been. I would have been in trouble with the law if I had done anything. But I hoped a fair amount of bluff would work.

    But he and his mates were very careful to be nice to her after that.

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  17. Lance (2,540 comments) says:

    The only answer is expulsion of bullies and their associates.

    there was akid at our high school that regularly bullied kids. About once a week he would pick on the wrong kid and had the shit beat out of him. A few days later he was at it again.
    He would be regularly caned till his nose bleed, no change in behaviour, all he did was fuck up those around him.

    Simple quick boot the fucker out would have been best for all concerned.

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  18. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    Why is this under bullying, the title should be serious assult and grevious bodily harm.

    why does a school uniform make a person imune to the law?

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  19. thas (60 comments) says:

    Perhaps the Prime Minister should look to his own Ministry, as well. Not so long ago my (then) primary school aged kids were taught what to do when they were bullied – don’t look him in the eye, step away and go find a teacher. A considerable change from what my father told me – look him in the eye, and stand up for yourself.

    That school approach was clearly the official one. Neither Key nor the Education Minister has, as far as I know, backed the ‘fight back’ approach (a la the Aussie kid Casey’s video). Until they do, the government is implicitly condoning bullying, and is part of the problem. The letter is useless at best, and hypocritical at worst.

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  20. BeaB (2,074 comments) says:

    The worst bullies I knew were Maori girls who would arrange fights for reasons like they didn’t like the way someone looked at them. They were volatile – quick to anger and quick to use their fists and feet. I don’t know if race has anything to do with it but it happened year after year. The ones that were sorry promised it wouldn’t happen again and meant it – until the next time.
    The more common response was defiance with parents joining in – especially mums. How many times did we hear, “I’ve taught her to stick up for herself”. “You’re picking on her because she’s a Maori”.

    I thought it was great the PM sent a message out to schools. This becomes an important priority that ERO will be looking at. As long as they don’t stop with wordy policies and actually find out what is happening. As all schools should be doing not just parroting the usual pieties like NZEI and PPTA. Don’t they ever approve of anything this Government does?

    But remember – with all the regs governing what schools can and cannot do, human rights, natural justice and all that, it is difficult to deal with bullying kids and also satisfy everyone involved. In my view, however, the victims must always come first.

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  21. Bob R (1,354 comments) says:

    ***Prime Minister is misguided to think that schools alone can stop bullying, as the root cause often lies well beyond the classroom.***

    Well, obviously the schools don’t conceive and give birth to the bullies, but they can discipline & expel the culprits.

    As someone above said, people (young males particularly) no matter how unruly, understand power. The schools need to exercise some.

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  22. Longknives (4,627 comments) says:

    WF/Trypewriter I like those posts. One of the most important lessons in life is that there is ALWAYS someone bigger, tougher and meaner than you…I think it’s important that these bullies learn this lesson as it makes them think about their actions…Pathetic Politically Correct ‘teachers’ these days don’t adhere to this, hence they are walked all over in the classroom.

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  23. EverlastingFire (291 comments) says:

    From my experiences at school (6 years ago) the students have very little faith in the teachers to reach the appropriate outcome when they’re constantly bullied. The worst I ever saw some disciplined for bullying was a detention, which is like just another day for these kids. There was also a culture among the kids that “you don’t nark on people”. Even if you did tell the teachers and they did do something (unlikely), you could be risking losing friends and getting picked on worse. That’s school life.

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  24. SPC (5,472 comments) says:

    If the police will not prosecute people who assault people of school age, maybe the PM should set up the legal means for both the school and perpetrator to be charged with liability for damages to the victim. And these charges to be laid independenly of the police.

    Or the government could simply direct the police to lay criminal charges against the accused and otherwise enable schools to be liable for damages if they fail to provide a safe environment.

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  25. KH (692 comments) says:

    NZEI are shockers. So sad these dinosaurs are having anything to do with our kids.
    Schools like the health system where I work are now audited to bits by the bureaucrats. Unfortunately what is more important is to have the paperwork. Much less important to actually do what it says.
    So we get to see those headmasters on telly who tell us they are dealing with it. And we know they aren’t. If only they could lift up their eyes from the paperwork and get out amongst the kids

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  26. SPC (5,472 comments) says:

    This reminds of the time when drink driving was socially acceptable or when schools would use the cane or parents would assert themselves by physical punishment. Of another era now.

    Yet violent assault is effectively tolerated between those of school age by not being seen as the criminal offence. That has to stop.

    Our media is teaching young people that you can be caught on video brutalising another person and not even be charged with any offense. Is a suspension from school really seen as a deterrent? That’s like an open season for an epidemic of bullying/criminal assault.

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  27. Commercial Lawyer (1 comment) says:

    Here is a further perspective on a topic that I feel strongly about. My kids go to decile 10 high schools (one single sex and one co-ed) and bullying is a major issue at both schools. It largely affects kids who stand out from the crowd for various reasons. As my kids are excelling academically (they take after their mother) and are doing quite well on the sporting and cultural arenas – they stand out. It is worst for my son – we have made it very clear he is not to hit anyone at school for a variety of raesons including, pragmatically, because he is the tallest boy in his year by some margin.

    In my day, I singled out the biggest bully tormenting large numbers of 4th formers, me included, and punched him on the nose at the top of a flight of stairs – which he fell down. It was a lucky punch. The woodwork teacher saw the whole thing and, when questioned, said his view was obscured. No one laid a finger on myself or my friends again.

    In my son’s case, I have got to know the DP – who is a reasonable man hamstrung by red tape and, often, the threats of parents’ lawyers (yes, my own profession often has a lot to answer for). Consequently, in cases where the niggling behaviour has reached unacceptable levels, I make it my business to find out the names of the culprits (the DP has been quite helpful in this regard) and make it my business to have a heart to heart with the parents concerned. The reactions I get are mixed, from receptive to indifferent to outright hostility. Regardless of the response, I have always managed (despite my frustrations) to be measured and never threatening – although I do make sure that they know what I do for a living and that I will not back down. In every case the nonsense has stopped immediately. My son and I are relaxed about me being seen to fight some of his battles. Better that than have the beanpole giving some of these delightful specimens the hiding they so richly deserve only to have his studies disrupted because the schoool has no option but to suspend him.

    In every case, I have also insisted that the school “owns” the issue. I guess we are lucky to have a helpful DP who finds bullying in any form unacceptable. We were not so fortunate in earlier years, which is when I formulated my direct action plan.

    My kids and their friends, aka the nerd herd, also understand that the weaknesses in cases of bullying are with the bully not the victim. However, my encounters with some of these kids and their parents do leave me worrying what sort of adults they will make.

    Incidentally, the bully I thumped over 30 yrs ago later did a stint in jail.

    The bottom line is, as a parent, make sure that you have a strong relationship with your kids so that they tell you and don’t try to hide it, and don’t put up with this behaviour (ever). At the risk of sounding wet, your whole community will be better for taking a positive stance.

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  28. MrTips (149 comments) says:

    All of this wailing and gnashing of teeth misses one important point:

    This girl was not beaten at school. She was beaten on the way home from school. To be fair, schools cannot stop that from happening, and when Wanganui found out about this event, they expelled the culprit. Only the police can and should do the rest. What else does Mr Key want them to do? Follow all students home?

    In a similar vein, Mr Leckie might like to lay off the crazy negotiating for more classroom release time, paperwork, pay rises and professional development, (ie. leave the bloody teachers alone), and argue for more ability for teachers to deal with known troublemakers at school. Hasn’t he seen, or does he care, that Mr Key has allowed for that in his statement?

    Oh, and send the phone video culprit to jail as well. That’s just disgusting behaviour, worthy of explusion and the police.

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  29. jaba (2,092 comments) says:

    Mallard used to be Minister of Education (I’m pretty certain anyway) .. I wonder what his opinion about bullies is.
    Tariana Turia went to Wanganui Girls College in the 60′s. I wonder what her thoughts are on girls punching other girls at school??

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  30. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Isn’t it about time we called this pussy wiped progressive school system a fucking failure. How many bloody years do we have to suffer under liberal bed wetting academies that don’ t know shit about how life works. Safe in their ivory towers they dispense rules and ideas that are obviously seriously amiss for many. The answer is simple but of course we are way to advanced now. My wife works in state school office, some of the bullshit that goes down would make you want to cry. The teachers, 90% women, many are just there to collect a pay cheque and whatever love they had for teaching is been whittled away by a continual struggle to maintain order. I believe Ronald Regan had the right attitude when he said “Walk quietly and carry a big stick”. The liberal experiment is not working and it’s practitioners are deluded fools.

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  31. thedavincimode (6,582 comments) says:

    This isn’t woth getting upset about. If this is it, then nobody will ever give a flying fuck about Mr Leckie and what he says. The fact that he even bothered with a press release pretty well says it all.

    A responsible response would have been to write directly to Key, copying Tolley, and addressing the issue and the delineation of the problem between school and outside school, with some suggestions as to how the issue might be progressed. It would have also sought a basis upon which the issue could be progressed by teachers and government. That sort of adult response from someone who could be expected to have the interests of bullied school children at heart is clearly beyond the fuckwit Leckie.

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  32. Robboy (49 comments) says:

    As usual, what a bunch of lemmings you all are.

    The Wanganui incident occurred OUTSIDE school grounds OUTSIDE school hours. Key should be writing to Police Stations, not Boards of Trsutees. Leckie is quite right to tell him to fuck off.

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  33. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Robboy,

    So should students be mobilizing teams of lawyers to make schools ‘take a hike’ when they mandate student behaviours outside of school (especially when in uniform) – e.g not smoking, bringing school into disrepute and such like? Because you know that the schools do require those.

    If the schools feel they have a right to exercise control over student behavior outside of school, should they not also retain responsibiities for those students?

    The ‘out of school’ argument is fallacious IMO

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  34. bc (1,344 comments) says:

    A rather silly press release by the NZEI president. A letter from Anne Tolley to the Boards reminding them of their legal obligations to provide a safe environment is hardly bullying.

    By the way that legal obligation is NAG5 (NAG stands for National Administrative Guidances) and states that Boards MUST ensure that schools are a safe physical and emotional environment for students.
    If your child is getting bullied and you are getting nowhere with the school, remind them of that!!

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  35. bc (1,344 comments) says:

    By the way, it is unfair to lump the PPTA in with NZEI on this one.
    The PPTA have always stated that bullying of any kind is unacceptable (physical, emotional, verbal) and have released an anti-voilence toolkit to assist BOT’s and teachers.
    Their position the same whether it is students bullying students, teachers bullying students, students bullying teachers, teachers bullying teachers.

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  36. Maggie (674 comments) says:

    Claiming teachers don’t care about bullying is the same pointscoring nonsense beloved of our politicians who like to claim the other lot don’t care about children or puppy dogs.

    Interesting Key is now interfering in the education portfolio. Of course, if it all turns to custard Tolley will be thrown the hot potato.

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  37. Robboy (49 comments) says:

    @bhudson: you’re onto it, well done. If a student wants to have a fag on the way to school, or on the way home – damn right, shouldn’t be the school’s business or problem. Schools need to be responsible for students 9-3 (or the modern day equivalent), no more, no less. If schools are attempting to exert influence outside those hours, then yeah, they need to pull their head in.

    So if a student leaves school, goes into town, pulls a gun and robs a bank – would DonKey ask his Minister of Education to write a letter to all Boards of Trustees to review their attitude towards aggravated robbery?

    It’s pretty simple, you can’t be responsible for someone’s actions outside of your sphere of control, and nor should you be held accountable for it. I thought you righties would understand that.

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  38. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    I agree with the general tenet of the NZEI letter.

    I’m of the view that the Prime Minister should not be telling schools to review their policies. That’s up to school boards, parents, communities and schools themselves, not governments from 300 miles away.

    Just as I am not in favour of governments telling schools what level certain students should be at at certain years – square peg into square hole does not work in education.

    This is why school choice is such a good idea. The next thing to go from government directive is the curriculum. That also should be the direct responsibility of school boards and communities and parents.

    Anyway, this is not bullying. The girl was seriously assaulted. That’s a serious criminal offence and by calling it bullying trivialises it in itself.

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  39. Tauhei Notts (1,633 comments) says:

    The problem is not bullying.
    Bullying has been around for centuries. And, it will continue for ever.
    The problem is brutal thuggery.
    And any outfit that draws a parallel of brutal thuggery with childish bullying is not deserving of any skerrick of respect in any way whatsoever.
    Brutal thuggery MUST result in instant dismissal. There is no excuse for it.
    Repeat; there is no excuse for it.
    That is what the word inexcusable means.

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  40. BeaB (2,074 comments) says:

    sideshow bob
    It was Teddy Roosevelt.
    Bc PPTA’s Robin Duff made some wanking statements too.
    Why can’t the unions just say we are keen to stop bullying and welcome all the help we can get especially when it comes from the top.

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  41. adze (1,942 comments) says:

    I can hear the teachers union’s knuckles cracking even now as they prepare for some SERIOUS hand-wringing over the bullying problem. John Key won’t know what hit him.

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  42. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Robboy,

    “Schools need to be responsible for students 9-3 (or the modern day equivalent), no more, no less. If schools are attempting to exert influence outside those hours, then yeah, they need to pull their head in.”

    Then until they formally relinquish authority and attempts to control outside of hours, they have to accept the responsibility and accountability that go hand in glove with the authority they maintain.

    I think you will find, however, that they want to have their cake and eat it too – all power and no responsibility

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  43. Anthony (784 comments) says:

    My son got bullied a few years ago at Wellington College and they took it very seriously, and even rang the parents of the kids involved. I was very impressed. There is no way that would have happened when I was at school.

    The worst incident with me happened when lazy Mahara Okeroa our English teacher (not that he used his Maori first name in those days) was late for class. He got into trouble with deputy Head and then told me off the next day for not telling him at the start of class – when I was the one who got beaten up and was too upset to say anything in front of the whole class!

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  44. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    The school bullying programme is the biggest load of crap ever produced. Zero tolerance and all that shit – it means nothing.

    You see the fact is that physical bullys understand only one thing – and thats normally a blood nose. BUT in our PC environment of no physical punishment the only thing that the bully will take notice of is not allowed – so schools have to no alternate but to try and hide the problem by punishing the bullied if they respond.

    What schools really want is for the bullied not to complain – then they get zero complaints – so zero tolerance.

    What a load of crap – and KEY knows this

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  45. bc (1,344 comments) says:

    BeaB, John Key telling Anne Tolley to write a letter is hardly help from the top! It is just politics and will do absolutely nothing to stop bullying.
    The problem is that schools have their hands tied – the amount of paperwork and jumping through hoops to get a student excluded (expelled in old fashioned lingo!) is mind boggling. Governments (National included) have made it harder to kick out students because they want them at school where these thugs are more hidden from voters than being out in society. Cellphones have just made visible what has been happening for years.
    Also schools that stand down too many students get criticised in their ERO reports.
    The police can’t do much because of their age so their hands are tied too.
    If John Key is serious about bullying like he says then he needs to make it easier for schools and police to deal with these thugs – a letter will do diddly squat!

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  46. Letterman (184 comments) says:

    Press Release from 24-7 Ltd:

    In the aftermath of the shocking case of a defenceless Wanganui school student being punched, kicked and stomped by what can only be described as a feral student, parents of school children may wish to pause to consider the wisdom of the various anti-bullying programmes available in our schools. I say this because the research evidence to date is quite clear – these programmes, so championed by the Ministry of Education and various academic and professional “experts”, don’t actually work.

    The 2004 fourth quarter issue of the School Psychology Review, the research journal of the National Association of School Psychologists, published the findings of Canadian Psychologist, J. David Smith, PhD, of the University of Ottawa, in a paper entitled “The Effectiveness of Whole-School Anti-Bullying Programs: A Synthesis of Evaluation Research.” Dr Smith conducted a meta-analysis (a study of studies) of all the research studies on the effectiveness of whole-school anti-bullying programs. The report stated that “86% of victimization outcomes [reports by victims of program benefits] were negligible or negative and the remaining 14% of reported effects were positive (albeit small). For self-reported bullying, 100% of the reported effects were negligible or negative.”

    A 2009 study entitled “School based Programs to Reduce Bullying and Victimisation” http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/229377.pdf revealed an 80% failure rate in reducing victimisation by bullies. The study also found that one component of anti-bullying programs, “working with peers” (having students mediate problems, mentor younger kids, or encourage bystanders to interfere in bullying behaviour), actually increased the occurrences of students being bullied.

    Currently the most comprehensive examination of school bullying has been provided by Smith, Pepler and Rigby (2004) Bullying in Schools: How successful can interventions be which again revealed that anti-bullying programmes failed in 85% of their applications, while the most widely evaluated anti-bullying program in the world (The Olweus program) has only been initially successful in its study original sample, and nowhere else –ever.

    Other observed harmful effects of the anti-bullying programmes have been identified as the promoting of a victim mentality in students which encourages bullies to become more anti-social, wrongful punishment for victims, diverting class time from academic study to deal with bullying issues, turning students against each other, and creating family feuds.

    It was philosopher David Hume who stated that “a wise person goes in the direction in which the evidence leads” – if only wisdom was a pre-requisite for the implementation of Social and Educational policy in our schools, and with our children.

    As parents, the State charges us with the responsibility of being the Guardians of our children. Part of this role involves parents teaching our children how to stand up for themselves, and (while it may sound unpalatable to some) this includes physical self-defence. The State cannot reasonably expect parents to teach children how to look after themselves in every other area of their life (e.g. self-care, sexual health, alcohol use, and social media) whilst ignoring the very real need to also teach our children how to fight and fend for themselves in the world.

    What was both sickening and revealing in the 24 punches, 2 knees to the head, and 1 head stomping in the assault on the Wanganui student was that each and every one of these blows made by the perpetrator went unanswered by the victim – the resources the victim most desperately needed (the ability in that moment to fight back for her potential survival), were absent.

    Any programme, philosophy, or law that undermines or chastises a person for legitimate self-defence, is, in light of the above evidence, itself an abusive bully.

    Campbell Live:
    http://www.3news.co.nz/School-tells-bullying-victim-to-stay-at-home/tabid/367/articleID/204598/Default.aspx

    TV 3 News:
    http://www.3news.co.nz/Anti-bullying-programmes-ineffective—counsellor/tabid/423/articleID/204687/Default.aspx

    BFM:
    http://www.95bfm.com/default,199124,steve-taylor-bullying.sm

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  47. Bogusnews (450 comments) says:

    For me the broader question is this:

    Weren’t we told that the removal of corporal punishment would fix all this? Does physical discipline teach children that violence and that by removing it all these problems go away?

    I have written to my MP several times on this issue (and in my view John Key should also be asked) how much worse does it have to get before we reappraise our approach of discipline of children.

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  48. Pete George (23,166 comments) says:

    Beating children for beating other children doesn’t seem to be a sensible solution. Stopping corporal punishment in schools was never going to suddenly stop a long history of violent and bullying behaviour.

    The bash is still widely glamourised in popular culture like tv, movies, video games and sport. Bullying is prevalent and often highly visible in many places, including parliament and on blogs. Expecting kids to stop following adult examples will take a lot more than changing school discipline violence.

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  49. Bill Courtney (155 comments) says:

    Pete,
    I agree entirely. Take a good look at the blogs over the past week getting stuck into Phil Goff and tell me that’s not classic bullying. As Ghandi once said, “We must be the change we want to see”. If kids grow up listening to how adults treat other now then it’s little wonder that we see their behaviour deteriorating. Schools reflect society, don’t forget.

    As for the letter and instructions to schools, they are busy enough now. Good quiz for Kiwi bloggers: who said these words and what do you think of them:
    “Teachers are already doing more than they should to deal with serious child welfare problems. New Zealand is lucky to have so many practical teachers who help children despite having a lack of formal training. Schools are expected to deal with every social problem in the community. but they can’t do that without distraction from teaching. Parents and other adults have to take their share of responsibility…”

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  50. Inky_the_Red (743 comments) says:

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry where Tolley said that schools could get help from special education services. I thought she had reduced funding to special education services. Maybe that was only reduced funding to those with special needs

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  51. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Pete,

    Irrespective of whether or not a return to corporal punishment in schools would help to address bullying by students, expecting kids to rationalise and act like adults Is doomed to failure. It is expecting to do something they have literally not yet developed.

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  52. Pete George (23,166 comments) says:

    But, bhudson, kids learn behaviours off adults. They may not consciously rationalise, but that’s how they learn.

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  53. BeaB (2,074 comments) says:

    I cannot believe dinosaurs are still banging on about corporal punishment. In high schools women teachers didn’t use it (though some got the men to cane for them) and girls weren’t caned. Many men teachers never caned either.
    It was usually the sign of a weak teacher and, often, a victimised kid who was repeatedly caned or a toughie who enjoyed goading an easily wound-up teacher into it. In the co-ed schools I taught in there was very little caning and even in the boys’ school where I taught for a year there was more boasting by the teachers than actual caning.

    So, not a cure for bullying girls, boys or teachers. We cannot use yesterday’s failed remedies for today’s problems.

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  54. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    How dare Mr Leckie compare a letter from the Prime Minister to bullying

    If the cap fits, DPF, and this cap does fit with this action by the current subject of your hero worship.

    One of the 14 rules of the man Japan credits with its industrial revolution after WWII, Edward Deming, was “Exhortation doesn’t work!”

    Instead, you provide training and resources. In the case of schools, training on how to deal with bullying is hardly necessary, as they are the most aware of the issue. This us not to say teachers don’t pay attention to new research, I know they do, but there is huge emphasis on eliminating bullying.

    DPF may not be aware of this, but teachers, too, are bullied by some big kids. I’m aware of one big kid who recently who pushed the envelope a bit too much by decking a DP. Bye bye big kid! (Said a happy teacher)

    However, as Inky points out, this government has eliminated school advisors and drastically reduced special education services.

    And it has the temerity to send a bullying letter.

    As one who believes that this governments saving grace is its leader (saving us all from Bill English’s Catholic/Presbyterian meanness), in this case I agree with a comment, broadcast by Radio NZ this morning, made by a disgruntled Hubbard supporter after a meeting attended by the PM.

    The comment? “He’s a wanker.”

    I would say, only sometimes, and this is one of them (but the Hubbard case is not one).

    Mr Leckie’s statement that the root cause lies beyond the school environment (as does responsibility for most of our long tail) is factual and, of course, unwelcome to a government intent on avoiding its own responsibility – think child poverty, the working poor, Maori and Pasifika underachievement etc etc

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  55. adze (1,942 comments) says:

    Luc
    Bullying has many causes and the usual suspects such as problems in the home are only part of the story. Some kids are just arseholes. A bit like people, because kids are just young people after all!
    I was bullied in High School by a popular boy from a wealthy American family. He was strong, good at sports etc. He only stopped after I attacked him with new coarse sandpaper and made him bleed (yeah well we were in woodwork class..).
    In any case, regardless of the causes of bullying the victims should be made safe as the first priority. And too many teachers/principals are either unwilling even attempt that. This is not to blame teachers for the bullying problem but all too often they aren’t helping the situation.

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  56. Nick R (498 comments) says:

    So let’s see if I have this right. PM making political capital from bullying of a school child without offering any solutions = a good idea.

    Teacher union responding = teachers don’t give a fuck about bullying.

    Yep, sounds like a fair and reasonable analysis to me. Brought to you directly from DPF’s bottomless pit of loathing for teachers.

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  57. cla (18 comments) says:

    Key telling Tolley to write a letter is not an effective response; but at least it is a response that does something and, most importantly, places the burden of responsibility on the educators to educate children about appropriate behaviours.

    What I found completely disgusting was David Shearer – Labour’s education spokesperson’s – response:

    “Labour’s acting education spokesman David Shearer said writing to schools was “a useless way of making a difference”.

    “If they want to get rid of bullying they will have to take on some tough and complex problems – including getting tougher on intervening with the families of bad kids and with bad parents.” (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10715815)

    First of all – kids who bully aren’t ‘bad kids’. They are exhibiting bad behaviour and that has either been role-modelled for them, or when they’ve demonstrated it before, it hasn’t been corrected. That doesn’t make them bad children, it makes them children in sore need of better role models. These children need to be taught how to have self-respect and respect for others, and that the way to seek that is not with their fists or using public humiliation to make others feel like trash.

    Writing these kids off as ‘bad’ or the subject of ‘bad’ parents shows appalling lack of depth of knowledge. Telling kids they are bad simply reinforces the behaviour, and that is how these kids end up as part of the crime and poverty statistics. You have to break the cycle somewhere and it does not start by calling them names in return. David Shearer should be ashamed of himself.

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  58. cabbage (455 comments) says:

    Nick R

    From Mr Leckie’s response:

    “Schools take bullying very seriously and encourage a zero-tolerance approach. They don’t need to be bullied into action,” says NZEI President Ian Leckie.

    Utter Bullshit. Its about as bullshit as if i were to proclaim the reverse, that “Schools ignore bullying and actually believe that some kids deserve it”

    A letter reminding schools about their obligations is NOT bullying. Its is simply the same as when in the workplace there has been a gross breach in procedure (IE: a number of cases of inappropriate internet use) and a global email is sent out reminding staff of their obligations.

    Its plain to see by the recent exposure that SCHOOLS ARE FAILING in their own “Zero tolerance to bullying” Policy. So why is a reminder from the big cheese thus classified as bullying?

    What he is in fact saying is: “Your performance is dreadful. Sharpen up”

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  59. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Cabbage, zero tolerance does not imply zero bullying.

    Schools are not in breach of anything. How are they failing? Are there standards for acceptable numbers of bullying as their are for road deaths? Are Police failing even with one road death?

    Have you missed the point that schools are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff?

    Cabbage, your name implies you find this difficult to understand, but if the answer to a difficult problem is as simple as a letter, then that answer is invariably wrong.

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  60. cabbage (455 comments) says:

    Luc.

    Yes schools are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. However, its pointless having an ambulance and paramedics who pontificate on the politics of building a barrier at the top of the cliff. Their Job is to assist at the bottom.

    Zero tolerance to bullying implies that schools deal with all cases bought to their attention swiftly and effectively. It is clear that they do not. Thus they are failing. Not really hard to grasp is it?

    You draw a long bow when you imply that i have stated that a letter to schools is “The Answer’. Of course its not, and that’s not what DPF’s post is about. Nor is it what the quote and my response in my 9:48 was about.

    In short, i think it’s you that has some slight comprehension problems.

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  61. Bandycoot (29 comments) says:

    Robboy etc,

    If I can make one comment (as a BOT member)…

    Although I tend to agree that activities out of school hours should not necessarily fall under the gambit of School Authority, unfortunately we are legally liable for school children from the time the leave home until the get back home. Until such time as this is changed in legislation I fear that Schools will continue to be called upon to take reposnsibility for activities beyond the school gate.

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