Bullying in NZ schools second highest in OECD

By Raniera Harrison

Aotearoa has the highest teen suicide rate in the developed world, which many educationalists believe to stem from bullying in schools.

"We have a society that has a huge amount of violence in homes.  Where do you think the kids learn their bullying from?" says the chair of the Te Tai Tokerau Prinicipals' Association and principal of Whangārei's Horahora School, Pat Newman.

A report from UNICEF shows more than one in three New Zealand kids suffers bullying at school, and 35 percent of NZ kids aged between 13 and 15 complained of being bullied every month.

Newman says children'/s behaviour is reflective of their environment.

"I mean, I've had parents come in to various schools and say 'if you don't f-ing well fix that bullying I'll beat you up!'  Well, it doesn't quite fit does it?" says Newman.

In the 12 months ending August 2018, Police responded to 39 incidents of bullying of children and young persons.

Newman says society needs to prioritise the issue.

"There's no mental health facilities for our children.  There's no counselling provided for our children.  I've been going on about this for I don't know how long.  I'm fed up with going on about it."

The UNICEF report follows an additional PISA-commissioned report released in April, which suggested New Zealand students have the second-highest rate of bullying in the OECD.

Statistics all too familiar for those closest to the issue.

"You're taking, I believe, at least a generation to break some of this.  But if you don't start it's still a generation further down the line."

Where to find help and support:

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)