Since launching almost two years ago, Bond University’s ‘One Goal, One Community’ anti-bullying initiative has touched the lives of more than 50,000 people, grown to include program partners on two continents and involved 28 schools and community-based organisations from all over Australia.
As the second annual Australian National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence (March 16) approaches and reminds us of the wide-spread prevalence of bullying in our schools and community, this student-run program continues to grow and encourage people to take a stand against bullying.
Bond University Professor of Management and Director of the Learning, Engagement, Andragogy and Pedagogy (LEAP) Research Centre, Dr. Amy Kenworthy, oversees the student-run program, which is delivered by Bond University undergraduate business students as part of a class on negotiation.
“The program is designed to provide information to school students and the wider community and encourage action in terms of people taking a stand against bullying in a safe and informed way; even if it’s something as simple as saying hello to someone who has been socially excluded,” said Professor Kenworthy.
Certainly, the demand for such a program is there. Professor Kenworthy says a 2011 survey done at one their partner schools revealed 73% of the 626 high school students responding indicated that they had witnessed bullying in the 12 months prior to the survey. Of those, 67% said they had heard verbal abuse, and nearly half (46%) reported seeing physical abuse.
“To try and keep pace with expansion and demand, the program is continuing to release new resources – including a ’Become a Defender’ video that many of our program partners will launch as part of the national day of action,” she said.
“For the Bond students who take this program into our schools and community, not only is it a chance to put the knowledge and skills they learn at University into practice, it is also an opportunity to effect real change in the world.
“Our students are having primary and secondary school kids come up to them telling them they ‘changed their lives’. What an amazing experience to be a change agent impacting the lives of individuals around the country and abroad.
“It is a serious and challenging task that our students continue to rise to and excel at,” said Professor Kenworthy.
Nine-year old Mariel U’Ren, a Year 4 student from St. Andrew’s Lutheran College in Tallebudgera, Queensland said she was proud that her school took part in the ‘One Goal, One Community’ program.
“We are all working together to get rid of bullying and that is a really good thing. I now know that just smiling at someone or sitting down next to them to have lunch can help,” said Mariel.
School Principal Mr Tim Kotzur said the program was important in “helping to raise the collective consciousness of the school community to the issue of bullying”. “It helped to empower our students to take a stand against it,” said Mr Kotzur.