Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Bullying is Always Vulgar But Rarely This Bad

April 8, 2011

My country Australia and neighboring New Zealand has had it hard over the past few months, with floods, cyclones and earthquakes causing loss of life and enormous damage to homes, roads and towns.

In a time of tragedy, one of the few positives that can be reflected on, is the way wider communities come together in friendship and solidarity.

That is why it is so upsetting to hear of the bullying inflicted on the brother of Queensland’s flood hero.

First let’s reflect on the story of Jordan Rice’s courage and self-sacrifice:

To then bully Blake Rice, the poor younger brother, is just disgusting!

Blake Rice, 10, has been unable to return to school since he was set upon by the gang, who reportedly recognised him from media reports. The teenagers later set up a Facebook page called “We Bashed Jordan Rice” to boast about the assault.

The incident comes after a series of verbal assaults and threats on the Rice family following the January floods that have forced John Tyson, Blake’s father, to consider moving the family away from their home town of Toowoomba.

Mr Tyson and Blake became well known across the world after Jordan, 13, died in a flash flood in January after telling rescue crews to take his younger brother to safety first. The boys’ mother Donna Rice also died after the family car was swamped in the flood.

The family believe that coverage of Jordan’s heroics have stirred up resentment in the town.

Debbie Anderson, a family friend, told the Toowoomba Chronicle, that they were sick of the way they had been treated by some parts of the community.

She said many members of the Rice family had been bullied, abused and picked on because of what occurred in January.

“They’ve laughed in our face about Jordan’s death,” she said.

The attacks have shocked and appalled the wider community, with Julia Gillard, the prime minister, describing them as “a low act” and Anna Bligh, the Queensland premier, saying the behaviour was “disgusting”.

The local authorities have promised to prosecute the teenagers responsible with “the full force of the law.”

Toowoomba, one hour’s drive west of Brisbane, and the Lockyer Valley were hit by a deadly flash flood on Jan 11 that killed more than 25 people. Communities in the region are still trying to recover.

Bullying of all kinds is vulgar.  It is a reflection of the worst society has to offer.  At a time when Blake needs the support and care of his wider community, he is being harassed, beaten and forced to flee.

Unacceptable and downright awful!

Fighting Bullying Through Letter Writing Wont Work

March 30, 2011

After a recent speight of bullying incidents, the New Zealand Government has kicked into gear by …. writing letters to schools!

The letters, to be written by Education Minister Anne Tolley, will demand for schools to become tough on policing and preventing bullying.

What caused the need for such a response (albeit a lame one)?

This month, two teenagers were taken to hospital after schoolyard attacks. On March 8, a 15-year-old girl was punched and kicked as she walked home from Wanganui Girls’ College.

She was hospitalised and said the attack had left her unconscious, bleeding from the ears and with extensive bruising. The assault was filmed.

Also this month, a teenager was hospitalised after being beaten in another schoolyard fight.

The attack on the Lynfield College, Auckland, student was filmed on a cellphone and shared.

Whilst I find bystanders who film acts of bullying instead of intervening extremely upsetting, it seems that video evidence is the only successful device for waking Governments (as well as some schools) up to the realties of their inert response to this very serious issue.  If the Casey “Body Slam” incident had not been filmed, his school would still arguably be hiding from its responsibilities today.

Will writing letters work?  Of course not!

Mr Shearer (Labor MP) said tough action was needed not letter writing.

“John Key(Prime Minister) has a clear pattern of behaviour – he raises hopes high that he is going to fix things, and then comes up with wet solutions that don’t help at all.

Writing to schools about bullying is a good way of saying he is worried about the issue but a useless way of making a difference,” Mr Shearer said.

“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.

“The Government has to start intervening in the huge gap between haves and have not’s in the education system, instead of making it worse. And the Government has to support anti-violence campaigns in the community instead of cancelling them to pay for high income tax cuts.”

In my opinion, schools that are failing to curb bullying, should be assessed and made to comply with the resulting recommendations.  If they don’t, the Government should strip them of their funding.

A school that doesn’t take a proactive and emphatic stance on bullies and schoolyard bullying, doesn’t deserve a cent of taxpayers money!


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