From the Principal’s Desk – 03 August, 2017

Dear Parents,

In my opinion, one of the most misused words in schools (and possibly in homes) today is the term “bullying”. Not a day goes by when the staff at HBIS do not have to deal with incidents involving students who claim to have been bullied in one way or another both in the Primary and High Schools. It needs no repeating that bullying has no place at a school and can never be condoned or tolerated. The lasting effects of someone being bullied is evidence enough of the devastating consequences such behaviour has on the psyche of kids.

However, whilst often investigating these claims, we discover that in some cases the incident was not one of bullying. My take on why parents and students are quick to use this word to describe something is possibly the fact that the very definition is not understood and applied. It has almost become the default word to describe something unpleasant that happened to a child.

There was a brilliant article written some years ago in the Huffington Post which addresses the terms which one can use when faced with a such situation where you have to a) determine the facts of an incident and b) correctly label the situation for what it is in order to teach or hold a child accountable for their actions. The 3 words are RUDE, MEAN and BULLYING. I suspect that all of us have been one of those things at some time in our lives, but do we really know the difference between them? According to the article they define these words as follows:

• Rude = inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else.
• Mean = purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).
• Bullying = intentionally aggressive behaviour, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power.

When you can get to grips with these definitions, trying to solve the problem and correctly labelling a situation for what it is, allows either School or parents the opportunity to apply the correct teaching moment or consequence. As for students, it helps them correctly identify situations and not allow for the over use of a particular word. In a world that is super sensitive to the spoken or written word and the application political correctness (PC), I feel that it is important to get this one right.

Just as the many times I hear that “someone stole my child’s shoes/books/bags etc” only to find out later that the child actually misplaced these items. We are all quick to jump on the bandwagon and misuse terms to describe a situation.

Maybe it is time to speak truth to power but in order to do this, we must know what we are talking about. I hope you find this article interesting and applicable, it has certainly given us a different perspective.

Kind regards,

Grant Ruskovich