The 2017 National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence (NDA) is Friday 17 March. This annual event promotes the creation of safe and happy learning environments for students across Australia. It focuses on the importance of schools developing a trusted support network within the community that provides students with avenues to report bullying.
One in four students has experienced school-yard bullying and one in five has experienced online bullying. Bullying can have long-term emotional and psychological effects on victims. Ignoring bullying not only contributes to victims experiencing trauma, but can also allow bullying to develop into further anti-social behaviour, such as serious acts of violence.
The National Day of Action helps teachers to engage their students in constructive conversation about bullying and violence, and teach them strategies to deal with the issue safely and effectively.
As an open educational portal offering teacher resources, the Copyright Agency’s Reading Australia supports the aims of NDA and the Bullying, No Way! campaign to bring an end to bullying through schools. Reading Australia believes that reading books is a wonderful way to initiate discussion about social issues such as bullying and violence with children and young adults.
To support NDA six books have been selected from the Reading Australia list that explore themes of bullying and violence. Each of the books in the list below would be great suggested reading for those students experiencing bullying or wanting more information.
1. Bully on the Bus
Seven-year-old Leroy is too afraid to tell someone about the bully on the bus. The bullying gets worse and worse until he finally speaks out. This verse novel, written for six to eight year olds, shows the importance of having safe and trusted relationships with family, friends and teachers at school. Young readers learn about positive strategies for standing up to bullies and it may give them the courage to talk about their own experiences. While this book empowers victims, it also reaches out to children who engage in bullying behaviour.
Visit Kathryn Apel’s official website for teacher resources, a book trailer and other links.
2. I Am Jack
Eleven-year-old Jack is name-called, spat on and physically hurt by some of the kids at his school. He tries to tell his mum, but can never find the right time. He tries ignoring it, but it only gets worse… Author Susanne Gervay was inspired to write this book after her own son overcame bullying. The story, told using humour, has resonated with so many children and parents because of the authenticity of Jack’s voice and experience. Like Jack, victims of bullying can feel scared and isolated. Jack discovers that confiding in a parent and reporting the damaging behaviour to the school is the best way to end the bullying.
Susanne Gervay’s website contains reviews, background information and useful PDFs.
3. The Two Bullies
Ni-ou, the strongest man in Japan, and Dokkoi, the strongest man in China, decide to have a fight to show who is the strongest. They are confident, aggressive and arrogant, each believing that they are stronger than the other. And yet not all is as it seems…
This entertaining picture book asks readers to see things from the bully’s perspective. Children learn that a demonstration of strength and power over others is a disguise for the fear, unhappiness, anger and insecurity that that person feels. It is just as important to help children and young adults exhibiting bullying behaviour manage their negative and damaging feelings as it is to empower the victims of bullying.
4. Destroying Avalon
When Avalon moves from her country town school to a school in the city she becomes the victim of online bullying. Online bullying is far more pervasive than face-to-face bullying; because the majority of young people now have access to mobile phones and social media, victims of this form of bullying cannot find escape simply by going home – vicious attacks can reach them 24/7. Photos and videos can be shared easily, bullies are shielded by the anonymity the internet gives them, and content shared online is permanent. Like Avalon, victims of this type of intimidation not only feel isolated, but horribly exposed. Young people need to be educated on how to deal with what is still a new kind of bullying.
5. The Tall Man
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power, whether that be a bigger child tormenting a smaller child, or a police officer using their position of authority to maltreat an individual they were supposed to protect. The Tall Man tells the story of 36-year-old Aboriginal man, Cameron Doomadgee, who died while in police custody. The police claimed his death was a result of a fall, despite the evidence – four broken ribs, bruised face, a severely damaged liver – indicating something far more traumatic and sinister had occurred. Chloe Hooper’s Walkley Award-winning work of nonfiction explores violence, injustice and the tense relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Watch the trailer for the documentary based on The Tall Man.
Nick Enright’s play is inspired by the true story of the sexual assault and murder of a 14-year-old girl. The play focuses on the aftermath: the victim-blaming, the bullying and further violence. In particular, we get the perspective of the bystanders. According to the Bullying, No Way! fact sheet, bullying can have negative impacts on bystanders. They can feel stressed and guilty about not knowing how to intervene, or afraid for their own safety. In the case of Jared, who witnessed the fatal incident, he turned from bystander to bullying victim when the others threatened and pressured him into giving false statements to police.
Students can use the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or visit the Kids Helpline website.
For more information visit the Bullying, No Way! website.