Radical plan to tackle school bullies

Sunday Star Times 15 March 09

Schools could combat bullying by shortening lunch breaks and releasing classes at different times, says a top-level inquiry that will go public tomorrow. The inquiry also warns that victims could sue teachers and schools that are slack in dealing with bullying. It follows the 2007 Hutt Valley High School scandal where boys were chased, dragged to the ground and violated. The boys’ parents called for an investigation, and tomorrow the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) will present their findings to a school violence summit in Wellington. The findings were released exclusively to the Sunday Star-Times.

The HRC paper says there are “glaring gaps” in the national guidelines that schools use to deal with bullying. In particular, the guidelines don’t stipulate that parents must be informed when a child is bullied at school. The HRC says that should be mandatory. It also raises concerns about whether the Education Review Office (ERO), which oversees schools’ anti-bullying systems, is up to the job.