Taking a Stand Against Bullying and Violence
Mr Geoff Lancaster | Principal | 19 March 2021
Today is the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence with the theme ‘Take Action Together’. Bullying takes place in many different contexts in our society and is unacceptable at school, in the workplace and in our homes.
St Luke’s Bullying Policy defines bullying as “the repeated and intentional behaviour of causing fear, distress or harm towards another person that involves an imbalance of power. It can involve humiliation, domination, intimidation, victimisation and harassment. In any bullying incident there are likely to be three parties involved: the bully, the person being bullied, and bystanders.”
Bystanders are those who watch bullying happen or hear about it, yet remain silent. They neither bully, nor are victims. They know what they are seeing or hearing is wrong but unless they are asked for help, or are made to feel they have a responsibility or duty to act, their silence is perceived as collusion. From the bystanders’ perspective, there is often a fear of retribution if they were to speak up, although in my experience over more than 25 years in schools, this has rarely been the case.
Rather than remain bystanders, this week we have challenged students to be upstanders - people who recognise that when something is wrong, we should take action to make it right. This isn’t always easy and may look very different in different contexts. Sometimes we should speak up straight away, for example when we see people being unkind or excluding others. We need to help our children realise that at other times it may be more appropriate to speak with an adult and get advice on the best way to be an upstander.
The concept of being an upstander fits in well with our LEARNING@STLUKE’S framework, which alongside attributes focussed on building student agency in learning, outlines the character traits we are working to develop in our students. Our LEARNING@STLUKE’S framework states:
“Good learners, however, are more than just powerful learners. They seek to grow in character as well as understanding, becoming people of grace, compassion, kindness and humility who are prepared to stand up against injustice on behalf of the oppressed.”
One of the reasons many families choose St Luke’s is for the safe environment and strong pastoral care. Schools are communities of many different people and inevitably incidents will arise. When they do, we are determined to quickly respond and to stamp out bullying. It is everyone in the School community’s responsibility to work together to develop a school environment where each person feels safe and is able to flourish as an individual. I encourage you to speak with your family about how we can all be upstanders rather than bystanders.