By Georgia Parsonson
In light of 2021’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, Yourtown service, Kids Helpline, has released new information indicating a 4% decline in face-to-face oppressive and coercive practices among Australian children young people in 2020.
Brendan Bourke, Head of Client Services for Yourtown, suggests that school closures could have contributed to decreased complaints related explicitly to face-to-face bullying, considered a schoolyard issue.
“Face-to-face bullying contacts are often lower during school holidays, so it’s reasonable to say that home-schooling may have had a similar effect,” Mr Bourke said.
“But the year-on-year decrease may also relate to a shift in the primary issue that children and young people are presenting with. Their primary reason for contacting Kids Helpline may be regarding a mental health or emotional wellbeing concerns, and bullying may only emerge as a factor when our counsellors unpack and explore the young person’s issues.”
Communities and parents must work together to provide an environment that is safe from harassment, aggression, violence and bullying, according to Mr Bourke.
“The National Day of Action is an important opportunity to reaffirm to adults to be positive role models within their family unit as bullying or violence in any form can have immediate and longterm effects on children and young people.”
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, confidential 24/7 service dedicated to counselling and support for the nation’s 5-25-year-old. It is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month and wishes to remind the community that bullying and violence are unacceptable, regardless of the circumstance.
Last year, the most downloaded topic from the teens’ section of the Kids Helpline website was bullying, highlighting the growing demand from teens, parents and carers to find evidence-based support on many topics affecting children and young people.
“Kids Helpline counsellors work with children from an early age to help them understand respectful relationships and behavioural boundaries, both when face-to-face and online,” Mr Bourke said.
“We need more discussion about the importance of mutual respect to stem bullying of any kind – face-to-face or cyberbullying – to ensure the wellbeing and safety of children and young people across Australia.”
Until that happens, bullying will continue to be an issue for Australia’s youth.