Zero Tolerance- the Anti- Bullying Fail.

My son was suspended.

He was suspended for two days for defending himself when attacked by a larger boy. I saw it all- the incident. I didn’t have time to get out of my car and navigate the two fences, childproof gates and split levels to get to him in the 30 seconds that the altercation took place but I saw it all.  I took the call from the principal of the school to tell me he had been suspended because he didn’t allow himself to get beaten to a pulp. “They should move away or tell a staff member”

What if they can’t move away, what if they are being held down and the staff member is facing the other way?

No-one has a policy for this other than suspending both children.

“Zero tolerance to violence policy” I was told “I won’t tolerate any violence in MY school” said the principal who didn’t ask me what happened, who didn’t ask my husband what he saw, who didn’t get my other son’s impression of what happened even though he was there.

“I have conducted a thorough investigation” said the principal who asked leading questions, used intimidation and forced my son to sign a statement that was typed up for him

“He wanted to tell his side of the story, he wrote it in his own hand” lied the principal of my son’s school “if he tries to attend school I will have him arrested for trespass” surely knowing how ridiculous the threat to have a small boy arrested for his love of learning at the school he is enrolled at sounded. How ludicrous to suggest the police would waste time with her power play.

“In line with department policy.”  Says the Education Department directing me to a website where I find clearly written:

What we know doesn’t work (click to expand)

There are many beliefs about bullying and ways of dealing with behaviour that have shown, through research, to be far less effective than whole-school positive behaviour support approaches. These include:

  • zero tolerance and ‘get tough’ suspensions and exclusions
  • rigid control of student behaviour
  • belief that students must receive punitive and negative consequences in all cases
  • increased security measures
  • unfair and inconsistent use of discipline
  • punishment without support.

So our education department supports a policy that has been shown to not work, they directed me to a website that contradicts them. They support the increasingly bizarre behaviour of a Principal who has now crossed the line into bullying parents.

My son is lucky. He wasn’t hurt, he wasn’t even that upset by the incident. He is resilient and it was an isolated incident. He has not been subjected to ongoing bullying but other children have. They have been held against walls and punched, they have had kids swinging off their legs whilst they are on monkey bars and unable to get away to get a staff member they have had to kick to get away, so many stories, they are punished for being victims. It is neater that way. the school won’t get a reputation for bullying if it is all the children involved- that’s not bullying.

We need to stop this happening to our kids, we need effective policies to help our kids, not measures known to be ineffective but cover the arses of the school or the education department.

if this happens, don’t stand for it. Don’t let the principals get away with unfair punishment. Tell everyone. Tell your Local Member, Tell your education minister, tell the media.

This policy is damaging our children mentally and physically and they deserve much more than this.

Here are links to articles at the Daily Mail and and Kidspot about our experience.

We won’t be giving up.



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