Professor Marilyn Campbell works at the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education at the Queensland University of Technoloy (QUT).
She is a leading authority on bullying and cyberbullying, and a member of the Australian Universites Anti-bullying Research Alliance (AUARA).
In her view, knee-jerk reactions to bullying are counter-productive.
“Bullying is a complex social relationship problem which is deeply embedded in our society. It is a community issue with no single, simple, quick-fix solution: if there was we would have found it by now”, she said.
“While it is laudable that the Prime Minister is contributing to the National Day of Action on March 16th, highlighting the issue, the best way to address bullying in schools must take a longer term, multi-tiered approach.
“Programs which work in primary schools are much less effective in secondary schools, whose students need a different approach. In our research on individually counselling students who persistently bully, using motivational interviewing, it took about three months of weekly sessions to effect a change.
“One school in Adelaide has reduced its bullying victimisation from about 18 per cent per annum to 3 per cent, using the P.E.A.C.E program: but it took 5 years, demonstrating the consistent, concerted effort required.
“One day can highlight the issue but it won’t solve the problem,” she said.
She emphasises the importance of building on existing programs: “Any approach takes time and effort and should have a strengths-based focus, making use of the invaluable, nationally available resources which are evidence-informed: the Student Wellbeing Hub with its professional module ‘Resilient & Inclusive Classrooms’ and the internationally unique National Safe Schools Framework, providing an overarching anti-bullying wellbeing policy framework for all schools.”