Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford is calling for better data collection about bullies as part of a prevention plan to be finalised this year. The Commission is on the Bullying Prevention Advisory Group and helped work on bullying prevention guidelines that were released to schools last year.
"The current picture is that there isn't any clear data that gives the people that need to know to change the situation a picture of what's going on in terms of bullying in schools," said commissioner David Rutherford.
"Without data how do you know that what you're doing is working?"
Latest bullying research indicated New Zealand has not been reducing bullying in primary schools, a negative pattern evident since 1994.
Mr Rutherford said it was important for schools to understand the extent of the problem.
"The best sign that a school has a bullying problem is if they say they don't have one."
“Bullying isn’t new, it didn’t arrive with cell phones or the internet. Bullying is a human rights issue and it is one of New Zealand’s biggest. Bullying in schools isn’t just kids being kids. If someone’s attacked they shouldn’t have to “suck it up”.
"And the nursery rhyme “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” was a lie. It is the responsibility of every one of us to respect the human dignity of others. Everyone has a human right to be free from fear, feel safe and to live a life free from violence and abuse.”
“Like bullies, bystanders who stand by and watch bullying take place are not new. But what we need to realise is that bystanders are not neutral: they are an essential part of the bullying process: bullies need an audience to thrive. When we stand by and do nothing: our silence speaks volumes about us. If someone is being tormented on your bus, in your classroom or by your desk: or where you work, live or play are you going to be part of the problem or are you going to be part of the solution?”
“By being brave and kind anyone of us can ensure that those who are bullied or abused are free from fear because they know they are not alone. We can speak out and stand up, most importantly when we see it happening, whenever and wherever we see it happening."
“The Government” is not going to stop it. “The Human Rights Commission” is not going to stop it. You will stop it. We as citizens can stop it where and when we see it. All the words in human rights treaties and our laws will never match the actions we take to protect the dignity and rights of others in the places we work, learn, live and play in.”
Read about our work in school violence, bullying, and abuse.
Read the NZ Herald article "New Zealand schools keep bullying to themselves".