Community forum calls for change

THE impact of bullying on the lives of children and their families was highlighted and discussed at last Wednesday’s community forum.

More than 40 people attended the event arranged by Core Therapy Psychology Services including parents, educators, health practitioners and community members.

The forum was lead by Core Therapy psychologist Jo Edmond, who wants to make ‘kind the new cool.’ Those in attendance heard from a mother of a local bullying victim, a Year 12 student, a former victim and Forrest MP Nola Marino.

Mrs Marino is a staunch advocate of cyber safety and has given hundreds of presentations in schools and community groups on the topic.

“It is about changing the culture online to make it socially unacceptable to be anything other than smart, safe and respectable,” she said.

“So much is happening outside of the school environment but expected to be dealt with at schools and for a number of reasons that’s just not possible.” Mrs Marino recommended having online contracts within families before introducing devices into the family.

“Parents need to know what is going on and be a part of it,” she said.

Ms Edmond spoke to the forum from a psychology perspective.

“The effects of bullying have been likened to trauma from a neuroscience perspective,” she said.

“It can be as harmful as smoking, the health impacts are really serious.” A Year 12 student shared the views of the younger generation.

They said students should have control of how to resolve bullying situations.

“No one knows what happens when they come forward,” they said.

“They don’t know if it will spiral or escalate.

“Students need to know if they come forward things will happen but on their terms.

There needs to be more clarification on what happens when you report bullying.” One parent gave a harrowing account of the abuse her child suffered and the toll it had taken on the family.

“It was relentless and vicious,” she said.

“It has changed the whole family and it needs to stop.

“There was a focus to try to make my child more resilient but they work on the wrong child. It is like the child that gets bullied gets punished.” The forum ended with those in attendance agreeing it was a societal problem, with a greater focus needed on reinforcing positive behaviour.

Source: Busselton Dunsborough Mail.