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Schools across Australia take a positive stand against bullying

As has been highlighted in recent media, bullying is a very real problem in today’s society.

It’s time to focus on the positive and what is being done about it.

March 28 to April 3 was the first international ‘One Goal, One Community: Moving beyond bullying and empowering for life’ awareness week and schools around Australia and the United States took a stand against bullying.

The ‘One Goal, One Community’ program is the brainchild of Dr Amy Kenworthy, the Director of the Bond University Centre for Applied Research in Learning, Engagement, Pedagogy and Andragogy (LEAP) on the Gold Coast.

The primary goal of the ‘One Goal, One Community: Moving beyond bullying and empowering for life’ initiative is to engage members from all corners of our community in conversations about bullying.

“We had tens of thousands of students, parents, school staff and other community members from schools across Australia and the United States wearing their ‘One Goal’ wristbands as a visible signal of their commitment to engage in positive anti-bullying behaviour,” stated Dr Kenworthy.

In less than one year, the Bond University ‘One Goal, One Community’ program has grown to include 25 schools on two continents. There are ‘One Goal’ partnerships with primary and secondary schools in six Australian states (including the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia) as well as two regions of the United States (Boston, Massachusetts and Tyler, Texas).

To date, over 33,000 people have made commitments to engage in positive anti-bullying behaviours as a result of this program.

“Bullying is a major concern for everyone, everywhere. The major thrust of this program is to stimulate communication among people about this difficult topic,” said Dr Kenworthy.

“The program involves students talking to their parents, caregivers, friends, neighbours and business and community members about issues related to bullying and then asking for their commitment to work to put an end to it.”

The program is student-led, and has at its foundation what Dr Kenworthy calls “students as agents of change”.

“It is about having an entire community come together to enact positive change – we want every member to feel ownership and responsibility for making our community a better place,” Dr Kenworthy said.

As Mariel U’Ren, an eight year old Year 3 student from St. Andrew’s Lutheran College in Tallebudgera, Queensland states, “It makes me proud that my school is doing 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. It’s easy to be a defender. Everyone should be one”.

Principals involved in the program agree, as Mr Ed Marconi, Principal from Palm Beach State School, Queensland explains.

“The ‘One Goal, One Community’ program while contributing to the school’s stand against bullying and violence has highlighted that it is a whole of community responsibility. It takes a whole village to raise a child and a whole community to stop bullying and associated violence.”

And it’s working. Parents are gaining too. Julie Murchie, who has a son and daughter at St. Luke’s Anglican School in Bundaberg, Queensland, shares:

“We fully support the school’s involvement in the ‘One Goal, One Community’ initiative. The parent and student homework provided a context for us to be open and talk about bullying together. I am reminded of a quote I once read: ‘The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about’. As parents, we can’t pretend bullying doesn’t exist – we have to read about it, learn about it and talk to our children about it.”

Those interested in knowing more about the ‘One Goal’ program should contact Dr Amy Kenworthy, Associate Professor of Management at Bond University, on email [email protected]

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