The little girl in the Akubra Hat

So many Australians were touched and saddened by the beautiful little girl in her Akubra hat who at such a very young age took her own life- because of bullying. This provoked much discussion in my home about “What is bullying”. My children and I agreed that bullying may not be what you said or how you said it. It can simply be, how what you said made the other person feel. If you know that what you said or did made someone else feel uncomfortable or upset, then you should not do it again. Sounds fair enough, doesn’t it? But if you repeat your actions, with full knowledge of how you made the other person feel, then is this not bullying? There has been a huge debate in the media about how we need a national approach/program to stop this culture of bullying. As educators, we are always working with parents and families to tackle this issue. Every year we try to send a positive message to the children who are ‘nasty’ and try to build resilience in those that play with the ‘nasty’ child. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite often underlying issues for the child who is seen to be nasty by other children and families. It is often their way of staying in control, coping with anxiety or they may have poor role models at home. After all, we need to remember that children's brains are not yet fully developed. They are unable to understand the long term consequences of their actions. It is up to us to not only teach, but more importantly, model empathy and compassion for others. For us as educators, it is about building skills in ALL children to develop positive relationships. I would love to see a national program to combat the culture of bullying in Australia- why is there such thing as ‘tall poppy syndrome'? Why can't we just let people shine!

         I found it really interesting last week, that our Indigenous minister felt we had more pressing issues to deal with in Australia than debating Australia Day.  If the Traditional owners of the land find Australia Day offensive, if it causes them pain to think about how this date marks the deliberate destruction of their culture, how can we continue to celebrate on such a day? Is this showing empathy and compassion? Are we being bullies? Everyone wants to celebrate the amazing, multicultural land that we now live in, but wouldn't it be amazing to have a date that doesn't bring so much pain to our nation's first people?