This year our school, along with all other public schools in Echuca, have been adopting the “It’s My School Too” program in our ongoing efforts to ensure our school community is a safe and inclusive environment for all students.
The program is built on the belief that the vast majority of students at our (or any) school believe all members of the school community have a right to participate in school life without being bullied or harassed, and there is power in a majority to make a difference for the better.
The program also encourages students to see the school as their own (It’s My School Too!), and understand that with that sense of belonging, comes a responsibility to do their bit to keep it a safe place for all. This is not a message that ends when school is out. A great measure of any community is the people within it, and their sense of belonging and civic duty that leads to a greater vigilance and willingness to give somebody in trouble a helping hand.
Students at Echuca College will participate in a second workshop with program creator Jamie Roberts, where a short film was launched to highlight a range of strategies that bystanders can use when they see somebody being treated poorly. The film is a collaboration of all six local public schools, with students from each school acting out one scenario. It is a unique and impressive piece of work by all of the schools which will not only highlights strategies for bystanders, but reinforces to the audience that students across all the schools are all ‘on the same page’ when it comes to how we treat each other.
Strategies for bystanders include:
1. Asking the person treating somebody poorly to stop (if it is safe to do so).
2. Letting a teacher know what is happening.
3. Removing the student being treated poorly (inviting them to join in a game, checking they are OK etc).
4. Distracting or attempting to change the subject with the student doing the wrong thing when they are a classmate or a friend. (Asking them about something they are interested in, inviting them to play a game etc)
5. Not being part of the audience. Removing the audience is a very effective way of bringing the bullying or harassment to a stop.
6. When it comes to online bullying or harassment, simply blocking or removing the person from a friends list.
Echuca College has received their ‘It’s My School Too’ display boards which will soon be on display and full of student names to further highlight the beliefs of the school community. Wrist bands are also being handed out as a means of encouraging students to be willing to help somebody or do somebody a good turn without being asked. Being willing to help when we see somebody needs it is a quality worth admiring in somebody of any age!
The It’s My School Too program was funded by the Victorian State Government’s ‘Bully Stoppers’ initiative, along with the Campaspe Cohuna LLEN, and the Bendigo Bank.