There's more on bullying in schools from Home Education in Victoria. OK, so we are familiar with much of this stuff. There is the almost incomprehensibly tragic waste of life:
"During the holidays Marie Bentham cried as she told her family of the relentless bullying she had endured at school. It was not the first time Marie had suffered in this way and her concerned mother had already contacted the school which had followed its bullying policy and fully investigated the incidents. The bullying had not stopped. The day before school was to resume, Marie flatly refused to go back. Her mother was unsure how to deal with the situation and sent Marie to bed convinced that children must go to school. Eight-year-old Marie Bentham strangled herself with her skipping rope that night - it was her only way to ensure she would never have to face those bullies again".
But there are still myths that need refuting, such as the fairy tale that school bullying policies are up to the task:
"school 'bullying policies' are unable to prevent bullying. The great majority of bullying is not reported to teachers or noticed by them. A Canadian study videotaped children playing in a schoolyard and found that teachers were aware of only 17% of the bullying observed by the researchers. Of the incidents they did see, they only chose to intervene 23% of the time which gave an overall intervention rate of 3.9%."
And what a relief to see that people can stretch their minds to this concept: "Teachers also bully children".
"The Kidscape survey concluded that 'contrary to popular opinion, bullying does not help children to cope better with adult life. In fact it has the opposite effect. Adults who were bullied as children tend to have problems with self-esteem, feelings of anger and bitterness, suicidal thoughts and attempts and difficulty relating to people. Many were afraid of new situations and easily victimised."
"Children need to learn skills which will enable them to cope with bullies in later life but school is not the best environment in which to learn those skills. 'The education culture highlights the difference between children who are aggressive and those who are not. Rewards and distinctions tend to go the former,' say Marr and Field. Children absorb values, beliefs and morals from those around them. They can learn these more effectively in the safe environment of their home and naturally widening social circle as they grow older. Ideally their parents will model assertive behaviour and conflict resolution skills in their interaction with others and family relationships offer endless opportunities to practice these skills. Children can learn to confidently communicate and stand up for their point of view in a supportive and safe environment. This is far superior to a school situation where bullying is endemic and the whole system is based on power and control".