Today in Australia it’s the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. It’s an annual day which provides a focus for schools who want to say no to bullying and to strengthen the everyday messages that bullying and violence at school are never OK.
Thankfully we’ve made a lot of progress in the area of bullying but there is a downside. Teachers and parents have been so effective in reducing bullying behaviour in schools that it has gone ‘underground’, with young people who bully turning to covert methods to avoid detection.
Covert bullying includes spreading rumours and lies, revealing secrets, excluding others and cyber-bullying. It affects around one in six (16 per cent) of Australian students.
Professor Donna Cross, from ECU’s Child Health Promotion Research Centre, said covert bullying behaviours cause a great deal of distress and psychological harm.
“Our research has found that students who were covertly bullied, or who covertly bullied others, reported higher levels of loneliness at school, felt less safe at school and were more likely to experience difficulties such as emotional symptoms, conduct problems, inattention and peer relationship problems,” Professor Cross said.
“We know that covert bullying can have an extraordinary impact on the ability of students to learn effectively. The difficulty is that covert bullying, by its very nature, is difficult to detect.”
“Rather than seeking to punish the behaviour, our research has identified strategies to help schools to reduce the likelihood of it happening in the first place.”
I spoke to Professor Donna Cross on my radio program this morning about the issue. You can hear our discussion by clicking the play button on the audio player below.
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