NZ kids near top of world bullied list

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

There's a whole range of things that will be done - not everyone's going to respond in the same way.Education Minister Anne TolleyChildren in New Zealand suffer some of the worst school bullying in the world, an Australian survey has found.

The survey, which featured 36 countries, showed bullying in Australia and New Zealand rated in the worst category.

Australian primary school students suffered bullying at a rate of almost 50 per cent above the international average, putting it in the worst section.

Kiwi youngsters and students from Kuwait, Taiwan and Qatar fared only just worse than their Australian counterparts.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said she had yet to read the full report, but acknowledged that bullying was a serious issue in New Zealand schools - an issue that needed to be addressed properly.

"The previous Government has made half-hearted attempts at addressing the issue, with a series of checklist cards released last year. But it's action we need. And holding up a card while you're being bullied - well, that's not going to work."

Ms Tolley said many schools across the country had introduced programmes to counter the issue of bullying, which had proven to be effective.

"We'll be looking at spreading that [anti-bullying programmes] into other schools," Ms Tolley said.

"There's a whole range of things that will be done - not everyone's going to respond in the same way."

Belmont Primary School principal Bruce Cunningham said his school had not needed to introduce mentoring programmes as children were well-behaved at the North Shore school.

"To be honest, we don't have that problem.

"You might get the odd case, but that's dealt with then. But our kids are well behaved and know each other really well."

Mr Cunningham said he had not read the survey yet and that there had to be a clear description of what "bullying" was.

"If it's just kids being smart to each other, then that's what I'd call playground banter - it's just what kids do sometimes.

"You really have to look at what bullying is here."

Lunchtime activities such as sports, kapa haka groups and the school choir provided fun tasks for children at their school, Mr Cunningham said, which meant children were too occupied to be thinking about getting into trouble.

He acknowledged that text bullying was something to look at also and the school had taken precautions to counter any problems with cellphones.

Mr Cunningham said: "If a child comes to school with a cellphone - as a safety thing to ring mum or dad after school - they have to leave it at the office and get it after school."

- NZ Herald

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