A Victorian anti-bullying advocate has come up with a no-nonsense plan to stop school bullying in its tracks.
And it comes with a hefty price for all parents of kids who bully others and a strong message for everyone – bullying is not okay.
Hit bullying in the heart – at home
Oscar Yildiz JP, a local government councillor and secondary school teacher, reveals his drastic plan on today’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. He says fining parents of repeat bullies might be the best way to save young lives and ensure that bullying doesn’t make it to the classroom or chatrooms.
“Bullying behaviour is learned behaviour,” Cr Yildiz tells Mum Central. “90% of this learned behaviour comes from home. If parents aren’t taking responsibility, then who is?”
‘Parents need to be held accountable’
The plan is simple – parents of children who repeatedly and relentlessly bully others will get hit with a $500 bully fine. The hip pocket sting could be the incentive for parents to take control, step up and ensure their children are not the ones to blame.
Take responsibility or get a bully fine
The anti-bullying idea stems from Washington, USA where State Rep. Frank Burns made a similar proposal earlier this week.
“Parental accountability is a big factor in bullying,” Burns tells The Washington Post. “A lot of parents refuse to believe that their son or daughter is bullying people. They want to believe that their kid is great and would not do such a thing.”
The plan requires the school and parents to work together, following three steps:
- If a child bullies for the first time, school officials handle the situation and notify the parents
- If it happens again, parents must take a parenting class on bullying
- When a child keeps bullying, a judge determines whether there’s enough evidence to fine the parents and issue a court order forcing them to pay $500.
Cr Yildiz hopes to meet with Victoria Education Minister James Merlino to try and get a similar bully fine plan adopted for Victorian schools.
Advice for parents
Cr Yildiz, co-founder of Bully Zero Foundation Australia, is urging parents to communicate with their kids in an honest and positive way. When talking about their day, try to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. He says this will encourage a more optimistic perspective of school.
But, most importantly, be aware of any changes in your child and take the required action to stop the behaviour.
“We often hear ‘Not my child, you’re making it up, that was an accident’. No one wants to accept blame. It’s time parents accept it, take it on the chin, shake hands, move on” and look for ways to ensure it stops,” he says.
One in four children are bullied
According to the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence study, one in four students aged between eight and 14 are regularly bullied. Every month we hear the news of another life lost due to bullying, including 13-year-old Libby Bell and 14-year-old Dolly Everett.
For every child who successfully commit suicide, dozens of others try to, just like bully victim Brian Birchell, 12.
“This bullying behaviour destroys lives. It destroys families. Parents need to be aware that if they aren’t going to take some sort of accountability, then the law is,” Cr Yildiz says.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890