At Clonard we are intent in providing a safe and inclusive place for learning. As such bullying has no place in our community and we take all reports of bullying seriously.

When a young person is experiencing bullying it is important that they feel heard, that their feelings matter and that their issue will be investigated respectfully. This is what we seek to do in all instances that relate to any type of bullying or whenever a student feels physically or psychologically unsafe.

The good news is, is that at Clonard our weekly Pulse Data (online Student Wellbeing and Engagement survey) tells us that students at Clonard typically feel very safe. In fact, the data strongly indicates that the vast majority of our students do not experience bullying in our community.

The bad news is, is that there are members of our community who have at times felt unsafe due to their experience of bullying which is why it is important to continually educate our community on what bullying is, how harmful it can be, how to respond to it. In this article we will first address what bullying is as it is important that we are all aware of what it is and what it looks like so that we can notice it and act on it.

The national definition of bullying for Australian schools says:

“Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.  Bullying can happen in person or online, via various digital platforms and devices and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).  Bullying behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time (for example, through sharing of digital records).  Bullying of any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.”

 While we often think of physical harm or saying mean and humiliating things as bullying, social media now provides even more avenues for bullying to occur and this is often where our young people experience bullying. Something which students often do without realizing the potential impact is liking or commenting ‘haha’ after someone else’s mean comment. This can result in the enabling of a group in its misuse of power and cause great distress to the victim. Bullying is not a one-off act of disrespectful behaviour, as serious as these can be, but a one-off act of disrespectful behaviour online which is then on-shared by others can be regarded as bullying. This makes it even more important that students never publish anything online that can be interpreted as disrespectful or harmful because even if they only say or publish one disrespectful comment it can result in them being responsible for bullying.

In the coming weeks we will be speaking with year levels on the topic of bullying to ensure all our students understand this important issue and are aware of how to respond to it and seek help when they experience it or witness it. To accompany these discussion we will be publishing a series of articles to help you understand more about bullying and how to support your young person if they experience it or witness it.

Together we will respond with Strength and Kindliness,

Andrew Damon and Tania Anticev,

School Improvement Leaders – Wellbeing