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Improving school culture better than ‘beating the bullies’

It’s a well know and ancient aphorism that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.  It’s a proverbial warning that our intentions might be sound, virtuous and even admirable but that they also represent the first steps on a path or journey.  We need to make those first steps the right ones.

So, I’d like to commend Sunrise on their intentions.  We hear too many stories in the media about the disastrous impact of bullying and even I was recently called upon to speak publicly about the passing of Dolly Everett. It was some of the hardest subject matter I’ve had to cover.  

It’s understandable that we’re angered and compelled to action.

But the campaign launched by Channel 7’s Sunrise titled “Beat The Bullies” is a good intention that can lead us along a perilous path to the wrong destination.

Countering the scourge of bullying is not about beating anybody.  It’s not about identifying, shaming and conquering a foe – especially foes that are children.  It’s not a war to win or an opportunity to slay a dragon.

The work to be done, and this is research proven by the University of London when they examined 1378 schools already performing impressively when it comes to bullying, is in establishing a restorative ethos and culture around our schools.  This is why so many of our Partner Schools have such a strong Restorative Practices theme to their Real Schools Partnerships.

That doesn’t require beating anybody.  In fact, when we make an enemy of our children we teach them to distrust us and to drive their destructive and hurtful behaviours underground at the exact time that we wish to shine a light on them.

Instead of creating an enemy from nowhere in the hope that we can congratulate ourselves for vanquishing them, we should be getting to work immediately on School Cultures within which bullying finds it almost impossible to thrive.  

We thank Sunrise for their intentions.  They are indeed admirable.  But unfortunately Kochie and Sam know not of what they speak.  You do.  And as the true education experts who work in and on the school system daily, we need you and your school to take the first steps on the correct path.

Adam Voigt

Adam Voigt is the Founder & Director of Real Schools. Built upon years of experience as a successful Principal, Real Schools helps schools to build and sustain strong, relational School Cultures. A speaker of local and international renown, Adam has delivered a TED Talk and is the schools/education expert for The Project”.

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