Anti-bullying campaign wants harsher penalties for bullies

THE power to end bullying is in your hands.

Today's National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence is the perfect opportunity for our region to back a call for harsher punishments to be imposed on those who victimise kids.

National anti-bullying campaign Angels Hope wants all Australians to join its fight to change state and territory criminal codes to reflect bullying's impact.

Research shows about 26% of Australian school students are bullied and 9% face harassment each week.

Angels Hope co-founder Reuben Cunningham said changing laws could change lives.

"These laws would create a major difference to all children by making those that are continuously bullying accountable and responsible for their actions," Mr Cunningham said.

"It would link the education and criminal acts together, so that in cases where bullying tragically results in the loss of life, there would be accountability.

"It also enables institutions like schools to be able to take more proactive measures to address and educate students about bullying.

"While we educate our children on bullying, we cannot demonstrate to them the link between action and consequences as the law doesn't provide that level of protection."

Clinical psychologist Michelle Gopold urged parents to arm their children with the tools they needed to cope with abuse.

She suggested parents be responsive, not reactive, and that they listen and empathise with their young ones, help brainstorm and problem-solve the issue, and be transparent and open about bullying.

"Parents are often in the best position to provide support to their children to cope with bullying," she said.

GET HELP

See au.reachout.com, or www.bullyingnoway.gov.au, or www.kidshelpline.com.au (1800 551 800).



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