Embracing differences key to anti-bullying campaign

Issue: Volume 97, Number 18

Posted: 5 October 2018
Reference #: 1H9mUx

A new campaign developed by students at Thames High School aims to remove the power from bullies by nurturing confidence and self-esteem in those they target.

A recently launched anti-bullying campaign called‘Embrace It’, developed entirely by students, is already gaining wide community support through high-impact photos and graphics used in posters and on social media.

A video of the campaign was created by a Year 9 student and extends the message far and wide. In the video, campaign leaders encourage students to have confidence in themselves and accept their flaws, imperfections and everything else that makes them unique and different.

Year 12 student Luci Quinn came up with the concept, which she says turns a negative into a positive, and she hopes it will be picked up by other schools around the country.

“We want to build resilience, to take away the power of bullies.”

Bullies target many things, such as skin colour, appearance, clothing, height or gender, and these characteristics feature in posters on walls around the school, on T-shirts designed by the students, and in posts on social media. The posters have also been distributed around Thames.

A dozen students are also available as a support system at lunchtime and after school so that anyone can approach them to bring up issues they are having.

New strategy

Bullying is a longstanding problem in society and Luci says a new strategy is needed.

“The traditional approach of telling bullies over and over to ‘just stop it’ isn’t working. If we grow people’s resilience, they know they can take on the world and don’t care if someone else wants to target them.

“Stereotypes only have power because of the power you give them to affect you. Our campaign message is ‘Be proud of who you are and don’t let it get to you. Don’t confront the bully, and the bullying will go away because it is not getting the results they want’.”

The school has adopted the campaign, which will include ongoing workshops. Guidance Counsellor Susan McInnes says Thames High School is no different from other schools having bullying issues. 

“But after the last Pink Shirt Day, senior students wanted to follow up to maintain the momentum and go beyond the ‘you must not’ approach. So they brainstormed at workshops, and Luci’s idea came out of that. They were very effective in designing the campaign material, such as the posters, and in getting the different parties to work together and build support.”

Changes in attitude and behaviour amongst students will be monitored over the coming months and Susan says the school expects the campaign to be effective. Early feedback from parents has been very positive. 

Luci says they aim to spread the campaign to primary schools so that the disempowerment of bullies will begin at a younger age.

The ‘Embrace It(external link)’ video can be seen on Facebook. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 3:10 pm, 5 October 2018

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts