28 Aug 2013

Port Moresby school ups fight against bullying

5:24 pm on 28 August 2013

A private school in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby is stepping up its efforts to stop bullying with a month-long campaign.

It is the second year that Port Moresby Grammar School has run an anti-bullying campaign, which this year has included more than 1,000 students forming a human chain around the school sports field.

The leader of this year's programme says the problem was worse last year and has diminished somewhat with the introduction of a ban on cellphones at school.

But Pam Kenyon told Annell Husband bullying remains a significant issue - both in and outside of school.

PAM KENYON: We've had some cases of students defiling teachers on Facebook or trying to film teachers and posting things about teachers on Facebook, as well, so it wasn't actually teachers doing any bullying, but teachers being affected by cyber-bullying from the students. Some nasty stuff. Kids are very quick to pick on weak teachers or teachers that might look different or are a different race, as well.

ANNELL HUSBAND: And has that been successful - barring students from bringing their phones to school?

PK: It has worked, yes. It's obviously a big issue and not all the parents agree with the policy, because the same is everywhere. Parents want to be able to talk to their kids whenever they want to or pass on messages. I've had a few students come and talk to me, not necessarily about cyber bullying but people talking to each other on Facebook and getting heated about things. But in terms of actually bullying people behind their backs and that type of thing, we've had very, very low rates of that.

AH: In terms of other schools, would Port Moresby Grammar School be any different from any other schools in Port Moresby or is bullying an issue as it is in other countries, in all schools?

PK: Bullying is a very big issue. At Port Moresby Grammar School we're very, very fortunate this year. But within and around there's a lot of bullying. And in Port Moresby, bullying can sometimes be very dangerous because their payback system here usually involves machetes and cutting off limbs. So it's really important to look after the kids here at school, especially.

AH: Right. So has that been the consequence of some bullying involving students at your school or other shcools?

PK: This year there was some students out of school, some students from another shcool had been in some fights. I'm not sure of the full story, but our kids were there or were involved. And just outside the school one of them [they] tried to grab and shove into a car. Luckily we have staff out there, and he managed to get away from these guys. But generally if people aren't happy with you here they take you somewhere and they cut you up. So it's very, very real here.