Bullying a 'hidden' menace in schools

IF YOUR child is in years 4 through to 9, there is a one-in-four chance they are a victim of bullying.

Just ask local high school student Nora Smith-Garbutt, of Ballina, who witnesses it on a regular basis. At the age of 14, Nora has seen physical fights, verbal and written teasing, and online threats.

“Even if it's not physical, it's mental. A lot of people will get teased for being different or being in a different group,” the aspiring writer said.

“I feel sorry for the person getting bullied.”

Nora says there are often physical fights, mainly among girls, in different local schools and many are not reported to authorities or parents - although they do make it to YouTube.

“If someone says they're going to start a fight there's always someone following them around with a camera,” the Year 9 student said.

“It gets Bluetoothed and YouTubed.”

Being bullied openly and covertly at least every few weeks is a common experience for 27 per cent of Australian children in years 4 to 9, according to recent research by the Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC).

The centre's study into covert bullying - such as threatening looks, hand gestures, whispering, exclusion, blackmailing and rumour-mongering - found that most victims of 'hidden' bullying had been nastily teased, one-quarter had been physically hurt, and almost 15pc had received nasty messages on the internet.

Nora, who entered a poem in The Northern Star's bullying competition, said MSN Messenger was often used to bully people.

“Especially on MSN there are a lot of threats, like: 'You're going to get bashed',” she said.

“They get to talk directly to each other without saying it to their face.”



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