Academic calling for change in handling of school bullies

An academic working to improve the wellbeing of children has called for change in the way schools handle bullying.

Last week the Mandurah Mail revealed there were 763 suspensions at three Mandurah high schools last year, with one school having 10 per cent of students suspended in term two.

Telethon Kids Institute honorary researcher Kevin Runions said there was a reliance on punishment in schools, rather then looking at the bigger issue.

“Suspending the bully is usually a waste of time and will not help the situation,” he said.

“What is the student doing when they are not at school? How is the problem being resolved?

“It gets the student out of the school’s hair for a short time, but that’s all.”

Dr Runions said a recent study trialing an approach called ‘motivational interviewing’ had been conducted with school bullies helping them “deal with the problem they enjoy having”.

“Bullies get something out of it, whether it’s popularity or the fun of making people squirm,” he said.

Dr Runions said the approach encouraged the bully to find reasons to behave differently.

“You’re never going to get meaningful change from someone if you don’t allow the person to make choices for themselves,” he said.

“If the school conducts suspensions, they should also sit down with the student and have conversations about their behaviour.

“If you can get the bully to do things differently, that’s the key.”

But Dr Runions was aware schools were under-resourced and busy.

Originally Published by Mandurah Mail, continue reading here.