The Australian Human Rights Commission has urged Australians to get behind today’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.
The brainchild of Bullying! No Way, this year’s theme focuses on parents and families playing a role in preventing bullying and violence.
Commission spokesperson, Dr Helen Szoke, who is also Race Discrimination Commissioner, said bullying causes enormous distress and misery, and that cyberbullying in particular affects one in 10 students.
“Too many times we read of young people driven to absolute despair by bullying. Too many times, parents, friends and teachers are left wondering what they could have done to stop the taunts, the bullying and the damage,” Dr Szoke said.
“It is important for school communities including students, parents and teachers to foster teaching and learning environments where everyone is safe from harassment, aggression, violence and bullying.
“The National Day of Action is an important opportunity to reaffirm the right of all members of the school community to feel safe and be safe at school,” she said.
The Commission, which has identified violence, bullying and harassment as a major human rights concern, is currently working on a campaign to tackle cyberbullying and provide safe and effective solutions for bystanders.
“Promoting safe and effective bystander action is critical to overcoming bullying as some people feel uncomfortable witnessing bullying but may be unsure of how to stop it from happening,” she said.
“Bullying behaviour is reinforced where people watch or are present and do nothing but the research shows that bullying is more likely to stop when bystanders intervene,” she said.
Dr Szoke said the internet, mobile phones and other technologies created more opportunities for bullying behaviour than ever before.
“While these technologies bring many benefits to our lives, such as connecting with friends, entertainment or research, their growing use means that cyberbullying poses increased risks and dangers, particularly for young people,” she said.
“We can all help by taking action when we witness bullying wherever it occurs –in our schools, workplaces or anywhere in the broader Australian community,” Dr Szoke said.
The Commission is running a new poll on a campaign slogan to stop bullying or tell us your ideas http://somethingincommon.gov.au/dig-deeper/freedom/bullying
For the national day of action go to http://www.bullyingnoway.com.au/talkout/nationalday.shtml
Up to the minute information on human rights is now available on twitter at twitter.com/AusHumanRights.