Bullying is rightly back in the spotlight and the national bullying prevention campaign Be Bold and Stop Bullying has researchers at the University of Newcastle cheering.

The anti-bullying initiative is a collaboration between the Australian Government, facebook, Headspace – Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation – and Project Rockit, an interactive anti-bullying and youth leadership program for young people in schools and universities.

Be Bold and Stop Bullying encourages all of us to take a stand against bullying and is designed to educate parents, teachers and our youth about actions to empower young people and teach them to stand up if they are being bullied, or if they see bullying in action.

Here at the University of Newcastle’s Family Action Centre, we have been working with schools and parents for more than 10 years through our anti-bullying program, Rock and Water, to help stop bullying in Newcastle and around Australia.  We have witnessed bullying develop more dimensions and become more insidious in our community with the dominance of social networking in our lives.

The Rock and Water program is being used in many schools around Australia to help students link their physicality with their mental and social skills.  The program allows students to reflect on how they feel when they act and stand in a particular way, and how this contributes to communicating with others around them.

Since 2002, more than 15,000 teachers across Australia have been trained in Rock and Water but it is in the last year that specialised training programs have been developed for primary schools; girls and women; and children on the Autism Spectrum.  Later this month, Rock and Water founder Freerk Ykema and his Master Instructors from the Gadaku Institute in The Netherlands will return to Australia to deliver workshops in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to educators, counsellors and health professionals.

In the Hunter region this year, teachers at the Raymond Terrace and Karuah primary schools have been trained in Rock and Water through an nib funding grant in their schools.  The interim and anecdotal results are exciting, with teachers already using the language and exercises of Rock and Water in their schools’ behavioural support programs to help stop bullying.

At the Family Action Centre we are yet to research how Rock and Water training in the physical space can link to resilience in cyberspace.  We anticipate though that the notions of self-confidence gained through the exercises of Rock and Water – such as intuition, body language, mental strength, emphatic feelings, positive feelings, positive thinking and positive visualising – will assist young people to react to cyber bullying in appropriate ways.  Be Bold and Stop Bullying provides the University of Newcastle’s Family Action Centre with an opportunity to test that theory.  More importantly, Be Bold and Stop Bullying is a platform for us to work together as a community to build resilience against bullying in its many forms.

Judi Geggie, Director, Family Action Centre, The University of Newcastle

Visit the Be Bold Stop Bullying Facebook page

What the media is saying about the Be Bold and Stop Bullying campaign:

The Herald Sun: Facebook launches an Australia-wide Be Bold, Stop Bullying campaign against trolls

ABC online: Stopping the online bullies

International Business Times: Canberra Teams up with Facebook, Mental Health Group to Battle Cyber Bullying

Ninemsn: Facebook launches anti-bullying campaign

Related UoN links