Support for Bullying issues at school
In Pride Week we hope to celebrate and affirm rainbow identities through our pride campaign, so we can help reduce the experiences of bullying and distress for our rainbow rangatahi.
what to do and how to get support
Here you will find some questions and answers we have thought might help you with getting support for bullying within schools
Bullying is when a person intentionally causes harm or distress to another person, often repeatedly and tends to involve a power imbalance.
Intent: bullying doesn’t happen by accident. Stepping on someone’s foot by mistake isn’t bullying (but it still hurts and you should probably say sorry!) but intentionally stepping on someone’s foot every time you see them is.
Causing harm or distress: this can include physically hurting a person or scaring them, insulting someone or making them feel bad about themself, excluding or harassing someone, destroying someone’s work or belongings, or forcing someone to do something.
Repetition: bullying usually isn’t a one-off – it happens repeatedly, but just because it’s only happened once, doesn’t mean it’s okay. You don’t have to wait for bullying to become a pattern before you seek help.
Power: there are lots of different forms of power imbalance that can be involved in bullying. It could be social power, popularity or status; physical strength or ability; year level or position within the school; or forms of privilege.
Schools have a responsibility to make sure students are safe at school – which means preventing and responding to bullying, so it’s important to let someone know what’s happening. This could be a trusted teacher, a dean, or counsellor. All schools have their own processes for dealing bullying, so finding out what these are can be helpful.
If you feel like the staff member isn’t listening to you, or the issue isn’t being resolved then tell someone else. If the bullying or discrimination is coming from a staff member then you might need to take it to the heads of school or Board of Trustees. Bullying is never okay, and it is never the fault of the person being bullied.
If going to the school hasn’t helped, or you’re being dismissed, then it might be time to escalate things. Three really important organisations are:
- Ministry of Education (contact your local office),
- The Office of the Children’s Commissioner
- New Zealand Human Rights Commision
Being a bystander to bullying can be scary, but there are lots of ways to intervene safely.
- Awhi/support the person experiencing bullying
- Distract Interrupt the bullying in some way
- Call it!
- Leave and act If you don’t feel safe to step in and speak up while the bullying is happening
- Get some awhi/support and help
– Check out this helpful factsheet from the Pink Shirt Day Team: Pink Shirt Day Factsheet #2: How to be an Upstander
When you’re being bullied, having back-up can make a huge difference! Even if you can’t stop the bullying in the moment, you can provide support and reassurance to the person being bullied and make a stand against bullying.
It’s also really important to reach out for support while this is happening. This could mean connecting with friends or your school’s QSA/Rainbow Diversity Group, seeking support from family and whānau, the school counsellor or local support services.
National support services include:
Youthline – 0800 37 66 33, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for young people, and their parents, whānau and friends.
1737 – Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
OUTline – 0800 OUTLINE (0800 688 5463) from 10AM-9PM weekdays, and 6PM-9PM weekends for free phone counselling from rainbow volunteers.
The other important person you can get support from is yourself! Make sure you’re looking after yourself during this difficult time. That might mean checking in with yourself to make sure you’re doing what you need to to stay well, being gentle and caring with yourself, and asking for help if you need it.
Ideally, we hope to prevent bullying before it even happens. There is a vareity of resources available to help guide you through this.
- Rainbow Friendly Support in Aotearoa
- Pride Week support and resources
- The Pink Shirt Day website
- Ministry of Education guide to Supporting LGBTIQA+ Students, or
- Bullying Free NZ.
- InsideOUT also has resources you can download or order.