Thursday, 14 August 2008

New Anti-Bullying Program for SA Schools

One of the key problems for gay and lesbian youth, and for those who are a little older, is dealing with internalised homophobia and feeling different in part due to bullying at schools. The South Australian government has announced a new anti-bullying program in schools, which is to be welcomed. I hope that it has strong twin messages against homophobia in schools and in favour of acceptance.

Here's the Ministerial Media Release:

Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith says:

“Violence among young people is absolutely unacceptable, whether it happens at school, at home or in the community.

“We have seen some shocking examples of teenage behaviour in recent times and police and our schools are working together to address these matters.

“Violence is an issue for all schools – Government, Catholic and Independent – the community as a whole and parents right across Australia.

“The State Government’s Coalition to Decrease Bullying, Harassment and Violence in South Australian schools is taking a lead role on these issues.

“The Coalition includes local experts in dealing with school bullying, along with representatives of Government, Catholic and Independent schools.

“They are looking at emerging trends, such as whether the use of mobile phone cameras is inciting violent incidents and the issue of violence among girls.

“The Coalition already has done significant work around school yard bullying and cyber bullying, including providing information to parents.

“One of the first actions I took as Education Minister in 2004 was to distribute to schools one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying packages ever produced.

“The package, still being used in schools, includes detailed information about how to develop an anti-bullying policy for the school and teach respect for others in the classroom.

“Our teachers and schools are very conscious of their responsibilities to counter and reduce bullying and violence, and this package can help to support them in their work.

“This age-old problem is not one we can solve easily or quickly, but every small step we take towards more peaceful schools is worthwhile.

“Today I am announcing further details of two new State Government initiatives to help address the behaviour of young South Australians.

ALL State schools will this week receive a new training package – Your Classroom: Safe, Orderly and Productive and training will be provided to 2000 classroom teachers. It is part of a $10 million investment in addressing student behaviour. Under this new program, teachers in their first five years will be trained first. They will take part in workshops before trialling new approaches in their own classrooms.

PROFESSOR Donna Cross from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia has accepted an invitation to lead a roll out of the Supportive Schools Program to South Australian secondary schools in 2009. This preventative program has been shown to decrease the incidence of bullying in schools by encouraging positive relationships between students.

“These are just some of the ways that schools, with support from our Coalition of experts, are working to address bullying, violence and harassment in schools.”

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