Catholic Schools NSW chief executive officer Dallas McInerney has discouraged students from attending public protests today and asked them to instead support the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence at their schools.
“Catholic school students are asked to attend school on Friday to show support for their fellow students who may have experienced bullying in the schoolyard or online,” he said this week.
Related article: Inside the mind of a school bully
Students across the country are being encouraged by environmental activists to attend much-publicised strikes during school hours to protest climate change.
NSW Labor leader Michael Daley this week said students had a right to attend the protests, saying to do so was a “demonstration of young leadership”.
However the NSW Department of Education has warned students that they are required to attend school during the day.
Mr McInerney said that attendance at such activities outside of school hours is a matter for students and their families, but reminded students of the compulsory nature of school attendance.
He also said students would receive a more balanced view of important social and political issues in class than in unregulated, non-educational events.
“We believe students should discuss these issues in class where there is a responsibility on teachers to present information on important, contentious issues in a balanced and factual way,” he said.
Participation instead in the National Day of Action “sends a clear message that schools and students won’t tolerate bullying,” he said.
Australian research suggests that up to one in four students has experienced some level of bullying face-to-face while one in five has experienced bullying online. Over 84 percent of students who were bullied online were also bullied in person.
More than half the nation’s schools have registered to participate in the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, which has the theme of ‘Bullying. No Way! Take action every day’.
Related article: Bullying: How to spot the signs and what you need to know
Council of Catholic School Parents executive director Peter Grace said that it is critical that parents support the bullying prevention strategies that Catholic schools have put in place.
“At home, children are watching and learning from the adults in their lives, so we must be conscious of the examples we set for them,” he said. “Do our thoughts, words and actions build up or tear down the dignity of others?”
He said that to prevent the problem of cyberbullying, parents should monitor their children’s use of electronic devices at home and establish rules, guidelines and expectations around their technology use.
“Cyber safely education is not something that schools are solely responsible of,” he said.
Resources on bullying
National Day Against Bullying and Violence – bullyingnoway.gov.au
Office of the eSafety Commissioner – esafety.gov.au/education-resources/iparent
NSW Anti-Bullying Strategy website – antibullying.nsw.gov.au/parents-and-carers
Raising Children Network – raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/behaviour/bullying
National Centre Against Bullying – www.ncab.org.au/