Dubbo youth are being encouraged to support victims of bullies and stand up to them “if it is safe to do so”.
Friday marks National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence and headspace Dubbo youth worker Christina Rodgers is seeking to empower young people.
“If you see someone being treated in a way that isn’t OK, you can take action,” she said. “Even if you don’t know the person who is being bullied you can take a moment to let them know you saw the incident and ask them if they are OK.”
Ms Rodgers said bullying was “often underplayed as a joke”. “..validating a young person’s experience of it may be the first time they’ve been reassured that the treatment they are experiencing is unacceptable,” she said. “It seems simple, but it can be the first step to creating a space where our peers feel safe. If you witness bullying, don’t ignore it. Say something. Tell a teacher or trusted adult, and if it’s safe to do so, tell the bully to stop.”
Colleague and program manager at headspace Dubbo Marijka Brennan said it was encouraging onlookers, teachers, family and friends to play a bigger role in recognising and intervening in instances of bullying
“Bullying is never acceptable and the sooner we realise how damaging it is and that there are ways to prevent it, the better it will be for young people and their overall well-being,” she said.
Ms Brennan said parents and friends were in the best position to notice if something was wrong. “Signs to look out for are changes in behaviour or mood as well as signs of emerging mental and physical health issues,” she said. “If you’re concerned, talk to them. Ask them if there is something going on, what lunchtime at school is like, if they feel lonely or isolated. Don’t forget to be respectful and empathetic in your response and understand they may find it difficult to talk at first.”
The headspace Dubbo team believes talking about bullying “ensures that the problem cannot go unnoticed and allows teachers, parents and guardians to be aware of issues they may not have noticed”.