Principals seek more power to deal with bullies

by Heather Jane13 Mar 2015

A 15-year-old female student was recently left with possible spinal fractures after being allegedly bashed and thrown down stairs by a bully.

The Melbourne student responsible for this violence got a mere five-day suspension.

It is cases such as this which have led to principals across Victoria to demand more powers to deter bullies.

The alleged victim's mother - “Sonya” - said it was "unacceptable" her daughter's attacker was suspended for just five days, but there was not much that could be done because of the existing system in place.

"The school said 'it's policy', 'it's the system' and that's the best they can do," Sonya said.

Gabrielle Leigh, president of the Australian Governing Primary Principals Association (AGPPA), told 3AW Drive’s Tom Elliott that the "maximum" penalty of five days suspension at state schools wasn't enough in some cases.

"As a principal, that's all we have power to do," Leigh said.

"Our system is fairly lock-set to make sure that everybody goes to school.”

Leigh pointed to the lack of bullying-prevention programs such as intensive counselling services that have the potential to moderate the behaviour of problem students.

"It's a really tricky situation when you don't have alternative settings where that child might get the type of counselling that's really needed to change the behaviours that just aren't right."

Leigh added that the attacker "needed serious help" and she was "horrified" at the thought of her re-offending when she went back to school next week.

3AW was flooded with calls from angry parents who expressed their frustration with the current system.

NSW principals were recently given new anti-bullying powers in the form of a new behaviour code, which gives teachers and principals greater authority to maintain discipline in the classroom.

“We want to ensure all students in our public schools are learning in safe and supportive environments where bad behaviour such as bullying and violence is not tolerated,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said.
 
 

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