When you drop your kids off at school, on their way to what you hope is going to be a world-class education, it is awful to think that they might return bruised and battered as a result of schoolyard bullying.
Research has found that one in four Australians in years 4-9 report being bullied every few weeks or more.
Just as scarily, Australia has the unenviable reputation of being the top of the list worldwide when it comes to instances of bullying on social media.
Luckily one group is fighting back.
Since 2000, some 26,000 students across NSW have benefited from Interrelate’s Bullying Awareness program, which now includes a stronger focus on cyber safety and cyberbullying, recognising the growing trends in this area.
Now the group has also organised a state-wide anti-bullying poster competition, with some notable local entries.
The competition theme is Differences Make Us Special. Don’t Bully and invites primary school students to draw a picture depicting their interpretation of the theme for their chance to win a family getaway.
They include students from our own region, including Alstonville Public School, where year 6 student Tia Dawes created the colourful and effective poster above.
The winner and 10 regional finalists will also each receive an Art Pack from Faber-Castell Australia. In addition, the school with the highest percentage of participating students will win $1,000 for their school.
Prizes will be presented at a special awards ceremony on Friday, 18 March 2016 to mark the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.
‘We believe that this competition is an ideal classroom activity to assist teachers to encourage an open discussion about bullying, diversity and differences, which we hope can contribute to a change in behaviours,’ said Interrelate’s north coast area manager, Julie Leete.
‘Children need to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, their right to be safe, the impact of their relationship choices on others and where to go if they need to seek support,’ said Ms Leete.
‘What’s disturbing is the impact that [bullying] has on both the victims and the perpetrators. Recent studies have revealed that children who are bullied are three times more likely to show depressive symptoms and up to nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, while young people who bully have a one-in-four chance of having a criminal record by the age of 30,’
Entries must be A4, original artwork and cannot be digitally modified. One entry per student can be sent to Interrelate Schools Competition, PO Box 6307, Baulkham Hills NSW 1755.
Entries close today, Friday, February 19, but to allow for postage, all entries will be judged on Friday, February 26. Entry forms and full competition details are available at www.interrelate.org.au/poster