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Union says PM 'naive' on bullying

Published: 6:13AM Tuesday March 29, 2011 Source: ONE News

The government has been accused of being misguided over its moves to stamp out bullying.

Prime Minister John Key has instructed the Education Ministry to write to all schools reminding them of their responsibilities and demanding they review their anti-bullying policies.

But education sector union NZ Educational Institute (NZEI) says schools don't need to be "bullied into action" when it comes to tackling the problem.

"Schools take bullying very seriously and encourage a zero-tolerance approach," said NZEI President Ian Leckie.

"The government is naive to think just writing letters to schools demanding they review their anti-bullying policies will make the problem go away. The causes of bullying are complex and often reflect wider social issues."

Leckie said parents and the wider community also have a big role to play in identifying bullying and changing behaviours.

"The government needs to realise that the problem of bullying does not always rest at the school gate."

Key said yesterday he wants checks in place to ensure schools have anti-bullying strategies in place.

"It's my expectation that the boards will meet with their school principals to ensure that they have in place a solid and workable plan for combating bullying," he said.

"It's also my expectation that ERO [Education Review Office] audits will reflect the adequacy of those anti-bullying plans."

The call comes after a brutal attack on Wanganui school girl Robin de Jong was captured on video and circulated.

The attack left de Jong bleeding from her ears and unconscious.

De Jong told ONE News she could not sleep properly since the attack and continues to have flashbacks of the vicious beating.

An earlier incident saw Australian schoolboy Casey Heynes become an international hero after a video of him standing up to his bully was put on YouTube.

Lee Chisholm from internet safety group Netsafe says schools need to be more proactive in their approach to misuse of new technologies.

Chisholm said video-sharing sites, like YouTube, do have certain terms and conditions and are responsible about taking clips down that breach the code.

- With Newstalk ZB