Anti-Bullying Speech –
Parliament House Lawns 1 March 2014
We are here in the memory of a beautiful girl Chloe – God bless you Chloe and thank you Cassie for organising today.
We have rallied here to show our opposition to bullying to mount a push for anti-bullying legislation but we have also come together today in the name of “kindness”. Bullying has always been around – however the stereo typical school bully of past generations was easy to identify as the playground brute victimizing those weaker and vulnerable.
Today’s bully is a far cry from that tough guy or girl who makes life miserable for others and unfortunately he consequences have escalated tragically. Taunts now continue beyond school hours and school walls beyond the school day through cyberspace.
Bullying is becoming worse and easier as technology develops. Many of us have experienced bullying my daughter was bullied – taunted stalked assaulted, threatened with stabbing, on-line slating all because she changed friends. I had to take her to school each day knowing she was facing her tormentors but I would tell her to be strong that they were weak, to face her fears head on and to not let them win.
But the scope of bullying has widened, taking on new forms and becoming ever more insidious and covert. I want to enhance the protection of our young people from bullying. It is our collective role, as the protectors of Australia’s children of Tasmania’s children to focus on developing a framework that ensures young people feel genuinely protected from any type of harassment online, at home or at school.
The prevalence of social media and increased access to mobile phones and new technology means that children and young people are exposed in unprecedented ways to both the opportunities and the risks this brings. Research shows that 27 per cent of young people report they are bullied every two weeks or more, and about 1 in 10 Australian people experience cyber bullying on a regular basis.
This frequency could even be far higher. Bullying not only affects the physical and psychological health of children, but it also violates their right to feel safe, respected and included.
Research has shown that victims of bullying not only tend to dislike school and have higher levels of absenteeism, but they also tend to have low self-esteem, more interpersonal difficulties and are more likely to report higher levels of loneliness. Anti-bullying legislation is not necessarily a standalone solution and it is a complex area because Bullying is highly difficult to define presenting a challenge for law-makers, and cyber bullying in particular presents problems as it can be indirect, covert and anonymous.
Maybe we should follow the example of New Zealand where ground-breaking new legislation targeting cyber bullying will make it an offence to send messages or post material online that is grossly offensive, indecent, or knowingly false. Posting material of this kind will be punishable by up to 3 months imprisonment or a fine. The proposed law will also create a new offence of incitement to commit suicide, whether or not suicide results. There are no easy solutions.
We need to bring about real, comprehensive change, not only in the behaviour of individuals but in the way communities respond to bullying because Bullying affects every part of the community. A community-wide, youth-led approach is needed with an effective framework involving the collaboration of governments, organisations and individuals to build best practices for dealing with and preventing bullying.
Changes can be implemented both within policy, as well as through educational initiatives like workshops, training and open discussion about the effects and causes of bullying. Our focus can be on kindness, knowledge and empowerment! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if young people were trained to deliver anti-bullying workshops and presentations to our communities?
There are many positive initiatives at the national level in Australia. We need to foster an anti-bullying culture that will ultimately stem not only from fear of punishment but from a genuine sense of responsibility. We all want to live in a world free from aggression, violence and judgment and we want people to show respect and kindness for one another.
We as a society know only too well that bullying not only stops young people reach their full academic and social potentials, but when left unchecked ultimately leads to the abject pain and desperation of teen suicide. The time is now to put a stop to Bullying! May today result in a lasting legacy for Chloe! Thank you Cassie