Chief Commissioner calls for education sector to adopt Law Commission’s anti bullying recommendations

Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford says it is time for more action on bullying in New Zealand schools. The Law Commission’s advice to the Minister of Justice on cyber bullying has rightly said it is pointless to just address cyber bullying in schools. The focus needs to be on reducing bullying, including cyber bullying.

The Law Commission recommended that:

  • National Administration Guideline 5 should be amended, to require each board of trustees to implement an effective anti-bullying programme. It should be a criterion for registration of a private school that the school provide a safe and supportive environment that includes policies and procedures that make provision for the welfare of students.
  •  The Ministry of Education should consider further work in the following areas:

i.     The development of an agreed definition of bullying behaviour, including cyber-bullying, encouraging schools to use it in anti-bullying policies;

ii.     The establishment of ongoing and routine data collection systems with standardised methods for defining and measuring covert and overt forms of  bullying;

iii.     The development of measurable objectives and performance indicators for activities intended to improve school safety;

iv.     The development of guidelines for the reporting of serious incidents of bullying and cyber-bullying.

  •  Consideration should be given to further developing the educative potential of Information and Technology (ICT) contracts to inform students about their legal rights and responsibilities with respect to communications, using for example, the set of principles developed in chapter 5 as an educative tool.

Mr Rutherford said, “Sadly this is not a new issue. Where there is a will there is a way to address it. In recent years Finland has reduced physical and cyber bullying by over 50 per cent with the KiVa anti bullying progamme. KiVa  has been voluntarily adopted by over 90 per cent of Finnish schools  It is right for the Law Commission to be making its recommendations on the Education Sector  to the Minister of Justice.Schools are not exempt from the rule of law and learners in schools have the human right to be safe in schools. Sorting out the justice and human rights issues will also improve educational outcomes.”

Mr Rutherford was speaking in response to the release of the Law Commission’s ministerial briefing paper Harmful Digital Communications. The Chief Commissioner has written to the Justice Minister outlining the Commission’s support for the implementation without delay of the recommendations for the Education Sector in the briefing paper.

The Commission will call a meeting of interested parties with the aim of ensuring the Law Commission’s recommendations are in place by the start of the next school year.  There is also a need to develop a consensus on the evidence-based anti- bullying programmes that would best meet New Zealand’s needs. The Commission is sensitive to the need to de-clutter the number of programs, including anti bullying programs, schools have to deal with.

Click here to download KiVa anti bully presentation.

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