How this school halved its bullying incidents

How this school halved its bullying incidents

A ground-breaking program to reduce bullying in the schoolyard and promote well-being among children has halved the incidents of bullying at Brighton Secondary School.

However, the program – pioneered by Professor Phillip Slee and Dr Grace Skrzypiec from Flinders University in 2001 – has been having a similar impact in schools across the world.

The PEACE (Preparation, Education, Action, Coping and Evaluation) pack provides school-based strategies to improve safe learning and play spaces for students, including an eight-week anti-bullying intervention delivered by classroom teachers.

In 2014, the program was introduced to Brighton Secondary School to address an ‘average level of bullying’, according to Professor Phillip Slee.

“Four years ago the level of bullying at Brighton was not dissimilar to the majority of other secondary schools in Australia and the United States, and was considered to be ‘middle of the road’ in terms of peer aggression,” Professor Slee said.

“Now the level of reported bullying is as low as 5%, which puts Brighton Secondary School in the lowest category for schoolyard bullying, and which is a wonderful achievement for the school and the PEACE Pack program.”

Brighton Secondary School principal, Olivia O’Neill, said a key feature of the program is the nomination of an anti-bullying ‘champion’, a person of authority who is responsible for driving anti-bullying education and culture.

“The PEACE Pack has had a demonstrable and positive impact on the coping skills of our students who have or are continuing to experience bullying,” O’Neill said.

“We have signed on for a fifth year of the PEACE Pack because of the improvements to our schoolyard culture and because we want to achieve zero bullying on campus.”

Current data on bullying suggests that one in five Australian school students is bullied once a week or more and that cyber-bullying is associated with greater anxiety and depression than ‘traditional’ schoolyard bullying.

According to Professor Slee, overseas statistics tell a similar story.

“Bullying in schools is a universal issue that requires leadership, commitment and engagement from the entire school community,” Professor Slee said.

“Brighton Secondary School has shown this leadership and proven that endemic issues such as bullying can be significantly stemmed if addressed in an open and direct manner.”

To date, 36 Australian schools have utilised the PEACE Pack and the program is also currently used by 150 schools in Greece, eights schools in Malta, and six schools in Japan.

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