Keeping Queensland Schools Safe report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence
7 December 2011
Contents 1. Foreword from the Chair..................................1 2. Introduction....................................................2 2.1 Terms of reference .................................. 3 3. Progress made against 2010 recommendations ...........................................4 4. Appropriate use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools ...........................................................4
1.4 What is, and what isn’t, cyberbullying? ...................................... 30 1.5 Demographic characteristics of cyberbullying ....................................... 31 1.6 How young people perceive cyberbullying, and how they are affected by it ....................................... 32 1.7 In or out of school? ............................... 32
Recommendations ................................. 5
1.8 Bystanders .......................................... 33
Resource for teachers ............................. 6
1.9 Developmental considerations ............ 33
5. Use of weapons in schools ..............................7
1.10 There are positives, too … .................... 34
Recommendations ................................. 7
Part 2 ................................................................ 34
Information for schools to provide to parents and students about knives ........ 8
2.1 Policy development regarding cyberbullying in schools ...................... 34
Appendix 1: 2011 QSAAV membership ..................9
2.2 Policy regarding mobile phone use in schools ............................................... 36
Appendix 2: Progress report to QSAAV ............... 11 1. Introduction................................................. 12
2.3 Australian jurisdictional comparison (outside of Queensland) ...................... 37
2. The QSAAV recommendations ...................... 13
2.4 Beyond schools … ................................ 39
3. Achievements against the QSAAV recommendations ........................................ 13
2.5 The need for further research and evaluation ........................................... 39
3.1 Cybersafety strategy in all schools ........ 14
Summary and analysis ...................................... 40
3.2 Anti-bullying and anti-violence resources ............................................. 16
Recommendations ............................................ 41
3.3 Progress towards implementing recommendations three to eight........... 19 3.4 External review to assess implementation ................................... 19
References ........................................................ 42 Appendix 4: Quick reference guide for teachers on cybersafety and cyberbullying ......... 45 Introduction....................................................... 46
3.5 Expert advice about bullying ................ 19
Why are teachers important? ............................. 46
3.6 Raising awareness ............................... 20
What resources are available? ............................ 47
3.7 Collaborative action ............................ 21
Appendix 5: Executive summary of the report to QSAAV on weapons in schools in Queensland .... 51
3.8 Communicating with students about bullying and violence .......................... 22 3.9 National action .................................... 23 Conclusion ........................................................ 24 Appendix A: 2010 QSAAV membership .............. 25 Appendix B: Recommendations from the 2010 Working Together: Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence Report .................................... 26 Appendix 3: Report to QSAAV on the use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices ..................................... 27 Background ....................................................... 28 National perspective ......................................... 28 Part 1 ................................................................ 29 1.1 Use of mobile phones and other communication devices ....................... 29
Introduction ...................................................... 52 The terms of reference for this report ................. 52 What is the nature and extent of the problem? ... 53 Reported offences ........................................ 53 Unreported offences .................................... 55 What causes violence and weapon use in schools? ........................................................... 56 Are there any gaps in the current responses to violence and weapons offences in schools in Queensland? ..................................................... 57 Legislative responses ................................... 57 Police responses .......................................... 58 Policy responses .......................................... 58 Prevention activities .................................... 60
1.2 Use of the Internet................................ 29
Recommendations ............................................ 62
1.3 Cyberbullying and cybersafety statistics ............................................. 30
Appendix 6: Templates for schools about knives................................................................ 65
1. Foreword from the Chair On 15 July 2011, the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations, the Honourable Cameron Dick MP, announced the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence (QSAAV) would be reconvened to reflect on the progress made since the release of the 2010 Working Together report, and would also investigate the use of mobile communication devices and the use of weapons in schools. In considering these matters, QSAAV has been supported by experts in their fields, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and Professor Paul Mazerolle, who examined respectively the use of mobile telephones and other communication devices in schools and the use of weapons in schools. Both experts have identified the need for everyone in the school community — students, parents, teachers and other school staff — to be involved in the development of policy, and to have a clear understanding of what constitutes inappropriate behaviour and the consequences for engaging in such behaviour. There is also a clear message that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to these matters is not effective due to the diversity of Queensland’s school communities. These findings are consistent with QSAAV’s recommendations from the 2010 Working Together report. This report provides information on the progress that has been made towards implementing the 2010 recommendations, and supports the recommendations made by Dr Carr-Gregg and Professor Mazerolle. Mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools, particularly when used for cyberbullying, and violence involving weapons are issues faced by schools worldwide. They are also issues for the broader community. There is a clear need for reliable data, better collective understanding, and collaborative action involving students, parents, teachers, schools and the broader community if schools are to remain safe, supportive and respectful learning environments. To complete the work of QSAAV, an independent external review reporting to the Minister was recommended in the 2010 Working Together report, to commence after 18 months, that is, in early 2012. The commissioning of this review has commenced. I draw to the attention of the Minister and all three schooling sectors the need for ongoing implementation of the 2010 Working Together report. In finalising our task, I thank all members for their contributions and for their readiness to directly address the issues in their respective school sectors.
Professor Ian O’Connor Chair, Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence 7 December 2011
2. Introduction The Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence (QSAAV) was established to provide advice to the Minister on best practice for dealing with bullying and violence in schools. The 2010 Working Together report, released in October 2010, contained eight recommendations. The use of mobile communication devices by young people in cyberbullying incidents and the issue of weapons in schools have generated concern in the broader community about safety in Queensland schools. To ensure that Queensland schools continue to be safe, respectful learning environments, the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations, the Honourable Cameron Dick MP, reconvened QSAAV in July 2011 to examine the use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools, and the use of weapons in schools. Two acknowledged experts in their respective fields, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and Professor Paul Mazerolle, were engaged to examine the issues and make appropriate recommendations. The scope for Dr Carr-Gregg’s review and analysis on cyberbullying and the appropriate use of mobile telephones in schools included: • current trends and practices in managing or responding to cyberbullying though the use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools • use by students in schools in Queensland, nationally and internationally • nature, rate and causal factors of cyberbullying occurring through mobile telephone and other mobile communication devices in schools • consideration of options for responding to mobile telephone and other mobile communication device use by students • recommendations on options to manage the responsible use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices by students. Professor Mazerolle was asked to conduct a literature review and analysis of current research, data and thinking on weapons in schools, particularly providing advice on: • the nature, causes and responses to weapon-based violence in schools in Australia and internationally • evidence-based strategies that have been most effective in dealing with this issue nationally and internationally • a review of laws or policy responses to weapons in schools in other jurisdictions • the gaps in Queensland laws or policies framing the response to weapons in schools. Both reports have made a series of recommendations, a number of which are consistent with QSAAV’s recommendations in the 2010 Working Together report.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence 7 December 2011
2.1 Terms of reference Terms of reference were developed to guide the work of QSAAV in providing advice to the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations.
Terms of reference October–December 2011 The Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence (QSAAV) provides independent advice to the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations in Queensland, when requested, on effective strategies to respond to issues of bullying and violence in schools. During 2010, QSAAV undertook extensive work in the area of bullying and violence. The Minister is seeking further advice from QSAAV about current responses to weapons and the use of mobile communication devices. The terms of reference for QSAAV for October–December 2011 are to: • consider an interim report on progress on the implementation of the recommendations of QSAAV in its October 2010 report • consider the reports by Professor Paul Mazerolle on weapons in schools and Dr Michael Carr-Gregg on cyberbullying through the use of mobile phones and other mobile communication devices in schools • provide advice to the Minister on responses to weapons in schools • provide advice to the Minister on the use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools • consider data collection needs across all schools to inform future planning and policy development.
Membership Membership of QSAAV will include representatives of the following organisations and sectors: • Education Queensland • Queensland Catholic Education Commission • Independent Schools Queensland • Nominees of the principals associations (3 members) – Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association – Association of Heads of Independent Schools – Association of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools in Australia • Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens’ Associations • Federation of Parents and Friends Associations of Catholic Schools • The Queensland Independent Schools Parents Council • Nominee of the relevant industrial organisations (3 members) – Queensland Teachers’ Union – United Voice (Qld Branch) – Independent Education Union of Australia • Commission for Children, Young People and Child Guardian • Indigenous representative.
Expert guests QSAAV can invite experts on specific topics to participate in QSAAV as required or engage appropriate experts to undertake specific pieces of work to support QSAAV’s consideration of the issues. QSAAV will also seek advice from other Government departments such as Queensland Police Service and the Department of Communities (Child Safety Services) as required.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence 7 December 2011
Chair Appoint an independent chairperson for QSAAV, to be nominated by the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations.
Sub-committees QSAAV can form other topic specific sub-committees as required, for example, a student subcommittee.
Meeting schedule QSAAV will meet according to the schedule determined by the chairperson in consultation with the Minister. QSAAV will provide regular advice on progress to the Minister after meetings.
Minutes Details of the meeting outcomes can be found in the minutes.
The membership of QSAAV is listed in Appendix 1.
3. Progress made against 2010 recommendations The Minister requested QSAAV to consider the progress made towards implementing the recommendations of the 2010 Working Together report. The progress report (Appendix 2) contains information provided by the three schooling sectors. Since the release of the 2010 Working Together report, all sectors have made considerable efforts to engage with their schools, promote the Working Together suite of resources developed by QSAAV, and implement the recommendations of the report. All sectors accept responsibility for supporting schools to prevent and address bullying and violence through having access to best practice, evidence-based responses. A more comprehensive examination of progress towards implementing the recommendations will be made by the independent external review in 2012.
4. Appropriate use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools The rapid advances in digital technology, including smart mobile telephones, provide both opportunities and challenges for students, parents, teachers and schools. Approximately three-quarters of children aged 12â€“14 own their own mobile telephone.1 The recognition that Australia is moving towards becoming a digital economy provides further impetus for schools, parents, teachers and the broader community to take responsibility for ensuring children and young people use mobile communication tools responsibly.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009). Childrenâ€™s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April. (Cat. No. 4901.0). Canberra.
Dr Carr-Gregg’s report (Appendix 3) identifies that schools are faced with the dilemma of needing to respond to an open and collaborative social culture, while making every effort to provide a safe learning environment for students. Importantly, Dr Carr-Gregg notes that banning mobile telephones has proved ineffective. There is also no evidence in the contemporary literature that an increase in the use of mobile telephones in schools will lead directly to greater incidence of cyberbullying. Themes emerging from Dr Carr-Gregg’s report are: • the importance of identifying core elements for inclusion in policies regarding use of mobile communication devices to avoid a prescriptive policy approach which does not reflect the diverse nature of Queensland schools • the need for policies to position cyberbullying in a broader safety context; consider the impact on children and young people in vulnerable groups, as they are most likely to be more at risk online; and clearly articulate what constitutes inappropriate behaviours and the consequences for engaging in these behaviours • the importance of providing quality professional development to school staff • the need to engage children, young people, parents and teachers in developing policies, as this creates buy-in and ownership • the need to ensure children and young people are proficient in responsible use of mobile communication devices, and schools have easily accessible mechanisms for children and young people to report cyberbullying concerns • the need for ongoing local data collection, with consistent definitions and measurements to help schools assess the impact of policy changes. It is also apparent from the evidence that, when used responsibly and in line with school policies, mobile communication devices can have positive roles in young people’s education by enabling them to share creative projects and to facilitate engagement in learning opportunities.
4.1 Recommendations Dr Carr-Gregg made the following recommendations. 1. That a “core elements”, rather than prescriptive, approach to policy development is recommended, due to the geographical, cultural and socio-economic diversity in Queensland. 2. That the flexibility offered by a “core elements” approach to policy development is determined by: a. developmental stages of adolescence; b. level of support and assistance available in regions/local areas; c. bandwidth availability, availability of mobile phones and 3G; and d. capabilities of teaching staff. 3. That cyberbullying policies in schools are focused on generating behavioural change in a broad safety context, in recognition that cyberbullying is a relationship/behavioural problem, not a technological problem. Responses should be educational, rather than legal or technologically based. 4. That children, young people, parents and teachers are always involved in policy development to the extent possible, as recommended in the NSSF. 5. That professional development for school staff regarding cyberbullying is systematically planned and includes all teaching and support staff.
6. That schooling sectors in Queensland partner with ACMA and/or the Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to expand on and offline training materials. 7. That cyberbullying policies developed by schools provide clear, unambiguous advice about: • what constitutes inappropriate behaviours; and • the consequences for breaching school regulations and policies as well as state and federal laws, noting that young people are much less likely to speak up about cyberbullying if they perceive that their access to technology will be denied. 8. That, in developing policies on cyberbullying and mobile phone use in schools, schools consider the impact of cyberbullying on vulnerable groups, such as Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse children and young people, same-sex attracted young people, young people with a chronic illness or disability, and children and young people in out-of-home care, as these young people at risk offline are the most likely to be at risk online. 9. That schools work in a local, national and international context to inform the adoption of mobile phone technologies in schools where applicable, and to address cyberbullying and cybersafety. 10. That schools establish easily accessible methods for students to report cyberbullying concerns, including an online reporting option, similar to the Electronic Bully Box at Prince Alfred College in Adelaide. 11. That Queensland schools introduce an online test for students which could be completed prior to students having access to school based information and communication technology, including mobile phones or other communication devices provided by the school. This test could be designed similarly to the ones utilised by Vic Roads (http://webapps.vicroads.vic.gov.au/vrne/ vrlpq.nsf/start?OpenForm), which provide for young people contemplating sitting a driver’s licence to complete a Learner Permit Practice Test on the web. 12. That a bullying app is designed and introduced, along the lines of the UK application which can be found at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bullyinguk/id348990083?mt=8 13. That the Minister of Education and Industrial Relations uses the annual National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence in 2012 to promote key messages and targeted resources around the responsible use of mobile phones and other communication devices in schools.
There is a high degree of consistency between a number of Dr Carr-Gregg’s recommendations and QSAAV’s 2010 recommendations regarding the importance of engaging with students, teachers and parents. Further consultation with the three schooling sectors is required regarding the implementation of the recommendations from Dr Carr-Gregg’s report, to ensure practical outcomes are achieved for Queensland schools.
4.2 Resource for teachers To assist teachers to find resources on cyberbullying and cybersafety, QSAAV developed the Quick Reference Guide for Teachers (Appendix 4), based on information collated on the Department of Education and Training’s new cybersafety portal. This guide is meant to serve as a practical starting point for teachers to help them in their work with children and young people. Schooling sectors may wish to make this guide available to teachers through their existing communication processes.
5. Use of weapons in schools Professor Mazerolle’s report indicates the majority of violence involving young people is occurring outside the school environment. While high profile incidents over the past few years have generated community concern about the issue of youth violence, in particular weaponrelated violence, schools remain safe environments for students. Themes emerging from Professor Mazerolle’s report are: • there is no indication, based on policing data, that weapon-related violence is increasing in Queensland schools • zero tolerance policies do little to prevent or reduce school violence, and safe schools integrate values like respect into their mission and align their practices with these values • it is important to distinguish between weapon use and weapon carrying by young people, as the literature suggests the prevalence of weapon use is substantially lower than weapon carrying • there is a need for better quality data and consistent data collection across the three schooling sectors, and in the broader community, about weapon carrying, weapon use, weapon-related violence and young people’s experiences of weapon-related violence to obtain a better understanding of the issues involved in youth violence • there are benefits of having greater specificity in school policies and procedures that weapon use and weapon carrying are inappropriate behaviours, and the consequences for engaging in this behaviour are clearly communicated to both parents and students • there are opportunities for greater clarity in relevant Queensland legislation about the use and sale of weapons, including knives to children and young people • there is value in schools using effective, evidence-based violence prevention and bystander intervention programs and strategies which foster positive school cultures, making them more resilient to violence. The executive summary of Professor Mazerolle’s report is located at Appendix 5.
5.1 Recommendations Professor Mazerolle made the following recommendations. 1. To obtain high quality and accurate information about weapons and weapon related incidents, and young people’s experience of violence, weapons and victimisation in order to inform effective policies and practice, the Queensland Government support the development of a regular community based household survey of youth to explore attitudes and experiences related to violence, victimisation and weapon related experiences in schools and the community. 2. To obtain high quality and accurate information about weapons and weapon related incidents to inform effective policies and practice, the Queensland Government work with schooling sectors to identify ways to monitor existing data collection processes, and options for improving information about weapon related incidents at Queensland schools. 3. That the three schooling sectors encourage all Queensland schools to: • use evidence based violence prevention and bystander intervention programs and strategies which foster positive school cultures to make them more resilient to violence • implement and evaluate violence prevention programs, including a series of bystander intervention program pilots.
4. That the Queensland Government investigates amending Queensland legislation to: • create an obligation similar to Part 5A of the Education Act 1900 (NSW), which enables schools to obtain information from specified agencies about a young person that has engaged in violent behaviour, for the purpose of assessing whether the enrolment of the young person would constitute a risk to the wellbeing or safety of any student or staff member, or to develop and maintain strategies to minimise risk • bring Queensland into line with other Australian jurisdictions, and make it clear that it is an offence to unlawfully supply weapons, including knives, to a child. 5. That all Queensland schools: • incorporate specific statements about using and carrying weapons in schools, including the consequences for doing so, into all relevant policies and procedures • develop and implement effective communication strategies to ensure that all students, parents and staff members are aware that carrying and using weapons in schools are inappropriate and potentially unlawful, and that there are consequences for doing so. 6. That the Queensland Youth Violence Taskforce examines the efficacy and effectiveness of community based prevention and intervention efforts for reducing the carriage and use of weapons by young people in the community, and develops recommendations for addressing this problem.
A pilot of evidence-based violence prevention and bystander intervention programs and strategies in Queensland schools would help build the understanding in the three schooling sectors about ‘what works’. QSAAV would consider such a pilot as a positive outcome of Professor Mazerolle’s research. Further consultation with the three schooling sectors is required regarding the implementation of the recommendations from Professor Mazerolle’s report to ensure practical outcomes are achieved for Queensland schools. It is also noted that the federal government tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth’s report, Avoid the Harm – Stay Calm, on 23 November 2011, after the last meeting of QSAAV. The federal government’s response contains actions which will need to be considered in the consultations that occur with the three schooling sectors.
5.2 Information for schools to provide to parents and students about knives There is a need for schools to communicate with students and parents that the carrying and use of knives in schools is inappropriate and potentially unlawful. To assist schools to do this, QSAAV has drafted template information statements (Appendix 6) for students and parents. This template can be adapted by schools, in consultation with their students, to produce a clear statement about the use and carrying of knives, which is appropriate to their local school environment.
Appendix 1: 2011 QSAAV membership
2011 QSAAV membership Organisation
Ian O’Connor, Chair
Department of Education and Training
Independent Schools Queensland
Queensland Catholic Education Commission
Queensland Council for Parents and Citizens’ Associations Inc
The Queensland Independent Schools Parents Council
Federation of Parents and Friends Associations of Catholic Schools
Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association
Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia (Qld)
Christopher Daunt Watney
Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia (Qld)
Association of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools in Australia
Queensland Teachers’ Union
Queensland Independent Education Union
Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian
Appendix 2: Progress report to QSAAV
Working Together: Progress report to the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence from the three schooling sectors October 2011
1. Introduction In recent years, high profile events and media coverage have given prominence to the issues of bullying and violence in Queensland schools, and prompted schools and schooling authorities to strengthen their responses to these issues. The rapid spread of new and emerging technologies has also been identified as an issue for parents and schools, with the ability to extend bullying behaviour well beyond the traditional confines of the school playground. In September 2009, Dr Ken Rigby from the University of South Australia was engaged to undertake a consultancy to provide current information and research on bullying to inform the future development of Department of Education and Training frameworks, policy, approaches and resources. In addition to anti-bullying materials for school staff, Dr Rigby also presented a report, Enhancing Responses to Bullying in Queensland Schools, to the Director-General for Education and Training on 22 February 2010. This report contained 12 recommendations to guide Queensland schools in responding more effectively to bullying, including a recommendation about forming a committee to provide the best advice on countering bullying. Consistent with this recommendation, the Premier announced the formation of the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence (QSAAV) on 23 February 2010, to provide advice to the then Minister for Education and Training on best practice in dealing with bullying and violence in schools. QSAAV includes representatives from all three schooling sectors, unions and parents. QSAAV was encouraged to explore national and international evidence-based practice that addressed bullying and violence, and propose practical strategies for schools to implement. As part of its initial work, QSAAV identified 10 elements of effective school-based action against bullying. During its six-month term, QSAAV also developed an extensive range of resources for parents and schools to support them in their work with children and students. A list of 2010 QSAAV members is provided in Appendix A. In October 2010, QSAAV delivered a report, Working Together: Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence Report (the Working Together report). This report made eight recommendations, which were endorsed by QSAAV members and are summarised in section 2. The complete version of QSAAVâ€™s recommendations is located in Appendix B. On 15 July 2011, the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations, the Honourable Cameron Dick MP, announced that the Queensland Government had engaged two independent experts, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and Professor Paul Mazerolle, to examine issues relating to the use of mobile phones and other mobile communication devices; and weapons in schools. The Minister also announced that he had reconvened QSAAV to assess the progress schooling sectors had made towards implementing the recommendations of the Working Together report, to consider the findings of Dr Carr-Gregg and Professor Mazerolle, and to provide advice to the government on the best way forward.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence October 2011
In the past 12 months, all three sectors have worked with their schools to urge them to adopt the strategies recommended by QSAAV, and have used various mechanisms to promote the use of the Working Together suite of resources. This progress report uses available data and information to indicate the efforts of the state, Catholic and independent schooling sectors over the past 12 months in implementing the recommendations made by QSAAV. The renewed terms of reference for QSAAV provide a timely opportunity for reflection on what has been achieved since the release of the Working Together report.
2. The QSAAV recommendations The full QSAAV recommendations are located at Appendix B. In summary QSAAV recommended the following: 1. Urge all schools to have a comprehensive, up-to-date cybersafety strategy. 2. Promote and maintain existing anti-bullying and anti-violence resources, and develop additional resources. 3. Conduct an external review within 18 months to assess the progress schools have made towards implementing the Working Together report recommendations. 4. Appoint an independent anti-bullying expert. 5. Undertake a promotional campaign to improve the awareness of bullying and cyberbullying. 6. Hold an annual meeting of representatives from the three schooling sectors to continue collaborative action against bullying and violence. 7. Develop a strategy for communicating with students about the issues of bullying and violence. 8. Seek national support and effort to address bullying, cybersafety and violence.
3. Achievements against the QSAAV recommendations All three schooling sectors are strongly committed to providing safe and supportive learning environments for students, and supporting the work of QSAAV. This commitment is demonstrated by the efforts of each sector to work actively with their schools to promote the resources developed by QSAAV and implement the recommendations of the Working Together report. Each sectorâ€™s progress against the recommendations is outlined below. This interim progress report was not part of a planned schedule of reporting by QSAAV. It consists of relevant information and accessible data at the time of writing of this report. A formal report of schoolsâ€™ progress, based on comprehensive and objective data, is the focus of QSAAVâ€™s 2010 recommendation for an independent review to be commissioned after an 18 month implementation period for schools (Recommendation 3). This time period was selected in recognition of the necessary time for schools to address this complex area and make school
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence October 2011
culture change in the areas of bullying and violence. The 2012 external independent review will provide considerably more substantial and objective information about schools’ progress in this area. Each sector’s progress against QSAAV’s 2010 recommendations 1 and 2, which suggest actions for schools, is outlined below, followed by information about work undertaken by the Department of Education and Training, on behalf of all schooling sectors, to implement recommendations 3 to 8, as well as any other relevant information from the other schooling sectors.
3.1 Cybersafety strategy in all schools What QSAAV considered QSAAV investigated options for a cybersafety framework for Queensland schools, and recommended that all Queensland schools be encouraged to adopt a cybersafety strategy, incorporating a sequence of steps recommended in a number of established frameworks, such as eSmart Schools or NetSafe.1
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 1 – Urge all Queensland schools to adopt a cybersafety strategy incorporating: • consultation with students, parents and school staff • acceptable use agreements for students and school staff • clear directions about the use of mobile phones and other electronic equipment by students during school hours • regular review of the strategy • inclusion of cybersafety within the school’s teaching and learning program.
What progress has been made A key cross-sectoral initiative undertaken by the Department of Education and Training on behalf of all schooling sectors in response to this recommendation is the promotion of the Cybersafety Help2 button, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) Cybersmart Outreach teacher professional development and parent information resources, through the Department of Education and Training’s website. Queensland schools have been active users of the training services related to cybersafety and cyberbullying provided by ACMA, and between January 2009 and July 2011, through the Cybersafety Outreach initiative, ACMA: • conducted Internet Safety Awareness presentations at over 210 Queensland schools, including 145 teacher events, 135 parent events and 293 student events • conducted 70 Professional Development for Educators workshops attended by 1342 teachers • delivered the Pre-Service Teacher program to five Queensland universities, attended by 674 pre-service teachers.
eSmart Schools (The Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Australia) and the NetSafe Kit (New Zealand) are evidence-based examples of cybersafety strategies. The Cybersafety Help button is an Australian Government initiative, which provides access to a resource for cybersafety help and information.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence October 2011
Other key cross-sectoral initiatives undertaken by the Department of Education and Training on behalf of all schooling sectors include: • the Working Together Against Bullying seminars for school leaders, school staff and parents, conducted by Dr Carr-Gregg in 11 locations across Queensland3, which covered cyberbullying as a method of bullying • developing a new cybersafety portal located on the Department of Education and Training website. Education Queensland schools are committed to providing a safe, supportive and disciplined school environment for learning, which includes a commitment to promoting a safe online environment. Education Queensland’s approach aligns with the vision and statements of the National Safe Schools Framework. A range of policies facilitate high standards of responsible behaviour throughout Queensland state schools. State schools address cybersafety through school policy, including schools’ Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students and specific information and communication technology policies, and Acceptable Use Agreements. Education Queensland has developed draft guidelines to support state schools in dealing with cybersafety incidents, which are currently being finalised. Anecdotal evidence from Education Queensland suggests that state schools have implemented a range of projects and activities related to cybersafety and cyberbullying. Personal contact with school staff indicates a high level of interest in appropriate ways to promote cybersafety and ensure students are prepared as digital citizens. In December 2010, the Cybersafety Help button was installed on 177 000 computers in state schools, representing the number of computers administered through Education Queensland’s Systems Management Server. The Cybersafety Help button is now part of the standard build for new computers, including school laptops for students, so schools will not need to individually download it. In addition, state schools have been sent information to give to parents promoting the download of the button on their home computers. In March 2011, a partnership with The Alannah and Madeline Foundation (The Foundation) was announced to offer the Foundation’s eSmart Schools cybersafety framework to all state schools on an opt-in basis. eSmart Schools is a guiding framework to help schools implement cultures of caring and respect, and to increase the technology and cybersafety skills of teachers and students. It provides a system to drive implementation of school policies and strategies, and helps schools track and report on their progress in implementing all elements of the framework. The first round of training for eSmart Schools commenced in October 2011.4 According to the quarterly report from the Foundation in October 2011, 82 state schools have registered their interest in becoming an eSmart school and implementation of eSmart Schools was underway in 44 schools. The Foundation is also conducting online training for schools enrolled in eSmart Schools, and is working to make this training available to state schooling staff. This initiative will complement the existing policy for state schools regarding use of mobile phones and other electronic equipment.5 3
Seminars were held at the Gold Coast, Cairns, Logan, Townsville, Kallangur, Noosa, Redlands, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gladstone and Rockhampton. Four training sessions occurred at the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Townsville. 5 See SCM-PR-003 – http://education.qld.gov.au/strategic/eppr/schools/scmpr003/index.html 4
The Foundation advised that six non-state schools have registered their interest in becoming an eSmart school, and three of these have commenced implementation of eSmart Schools. Independent Schools Queensland has developed a model policy on cybersafety for affiliated schools, which provides guidance on how to prevent cyberbullying and how to manage incidents of cyberbullying. Independent Schools Queensland has also actively encouraged schools to review and update their policies on child protection and student safety, in the context of the work and recommendations of QSAAV. Independent Schools Queensland reports that many independent schools have addressed the ethical use of the internet and social media through the development of formal lesson plans, including tasks and activities for boarders. In addition, the issue of cybersafety has been included in the Student Wellbeing Forum held in October 2010 and in Independent Schools Queensland ICT forums, attended by staff and leaders of independent schools. As each independent school is responsible for its own policies and activities, it is difficult to provide definitive data on the extent to which individual schools have adopted QSAAV’s recommendation. Anecdotal evidence from Independent Schools Queensland suggests that a large number of independent schools have implemented a range of projects and activities related to cyberbullying in schools, and that most schools have reviewed their policies on child protection and student safety. There also appears to be a strong commitment to sharing knowledge and strategies across independent schools. Independent schools also support the National Safe Schools Framework as part of a national commitment to ensure that all children can learn in a safe, supportive and respectful environment. The Queensland Catholic Education Commission conducted a survey of selected schools and found that all surveyed schools had a cybersafety policy, which included an ‘acceptable use agreement’ and acceptable use of mobile phones and emails. The Queensland Catholic Education Commission also reports that it is committed to supporting the provision of good practice advice to guide the activities of schools, support staff, students and parents to use best practice to address bullying and violence, and take action where appropriate to promote the safety of all students. The issue of cybersafety has featured on the Queensland Catholic Education Commission’s Student Protection Days since 2008. This group continues to monitor the area, and has the strong view that students should be taught protective behaviours as the most effective means of dealing with cyberbullying and other predatory behaviour. All Queensland Catholic schooling authorities have also been advised about the availability of the Cybersafety Help button.
3.2 Anti-bullying and anti-violence resources What QSAAV considered QSAAV acknowledged the diversity of Queensland’s schools, which is why it identified 10 core elements of effective school-based action, rather than endorsing particular programs or approaches. The Working Together suite of resources incorporates these core elements, and aims to assist Queensland schools to implement evidence-based best practice to address bullying and violence. 16
To ensure ongoing relevance, QSAAV recommended that these resources be actively promoted to schools, maintained and kept up-to-date, and complemented by any new additional support materials.
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 2 – Promote and maintain existing resources and develop additional resources.
What progress has been made All three schooling sectors have undertaken a range of activities to actively promote the Working Together suite of resources to schools, in particular the Working Together: A toolkit for effective school based action against bullying and the Queensland Schools Declaration Against Bullying and Violence. Key activities managed by the Department of Education and Training to promote and maintain existing resources and develop additional resources for all three schooling sectors include: • delivering the 2011 seminar series, Working Together Against Bullying, in 11 locations across the state, presented by renowned anti-bullying expert and child and adolescent psychologist, Dr Carr-Gregg. These seminars focused on promoting the Working Together resources, how to build resilience and self-esteem in children, and practical strategies to deal with bullying and cyberbullying in school communities • developing PowerPoint presentations for schools to use (in progress) • producing six additional short videos presented by Dr Carr-Gregg (four for teachers, two for students), complementing the existing video clips for parents on YouTube. The new videos are expected to be available on the Department of Education and Training’s website • updating the Annual Reporting Guidelines for Schools, which apply to all schools, to include reporting on anti-bullying activities and strategies under the category of School Climate • reviewing the Working Together: A toolkit for effective school based action against bullying to update content and add new resources (in progress) • developing an online sign-up facility to the Declaration. This is expected to be completed by the end of 2011 (in progress). Over 1800 school leaders, school staff and parents attended the Working Together Against Bullying seminars this year, and attendees have consistently rated high levels of satisfaction with these seminars. At the seminars, participants were encouraged to use the Working Together resources. In addition, school leaders have been strongly encouraged to ensure the Declaration is prominently displayed in their school. The Department of Education and Training reports there has been significant access of QSAAV resources and materials, with 16 539 recorded hits to the QSAAV launch page, and 15 207 and 6978 downloads of the Working Together schools toolkit and parents toolkit respectively, by the end of July 2011. Significant activity on the Working Together schools toolkit followed written communication to schools at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, and following Dr Carr-Gregg’s seminar series in February and March 2011.
All three schooling sectors report a commitment to the continued promotion of the Working Together suite of resources, as well as other resources for schools to assist them address violence and bullying. The Queensland Catholic Education Commission reports that the Working Together suite of resources and the Declaration have been promoted to all Catholic schooling authorities through circulars, media release, Education Updates and Queensland Catholic Education Commission committees. Anecdotal feedback to the Queensland Catholic Education Commission indicates that the resources have been well received and useful. Independent Schools Queensland has promoted the Working Together suite of resources to independent schools, as well as extensively promoting and supporting a range of activities for schools, such as programs and resources developed by the ACMA, the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Netbox, and the 2011 Working Together Against Bullying seminar series delivered by Dr Carr-Gregg. All independent schools have been advised of the availability of QSAAV and other resources. Independent Schools Queensland reports that the activities undertaken have significantly raised awareness of cyberbullying, and have resulted in additional strategies and materials being available to assist independent schools. It also reports that the range of resources, material and strategies available for independent schools has significantly increased. Education Queensland has undertaken a number of activities to promote the Working Together resources through: • an item in Schools Update, released weekly to all state school principals and Regional Directors • letters from the Minister and Director-General to all state schools • copies of the Declaration made available to all state school principals attending the 2011 Principals’ Conference, with copies being posted to all those state school principals unable to attend the conference • promotion of the 2011 Working Together Against Bullying seminar series presented by Dr Carr-Gregg to regional staff, school staff, school leaders and parents. Vodcasts of the 2010 Action Against Bullying6 education series, presented by Dr Carr-Gregg, were available in an online professional community from October 2010 to April 2011. Approximately 300 individual registrations to view the vodcasts were received from parents and staff, enabling multiple viewers per registration. New resources are also in development related to dealing with online incidents, including cyberbullying. To support state schools to manage incidents of cyberbullying and reputation management, Education Queensland has established a Cybersafety and Reputation Management Team. Guidelines to help principals manage cybersafety incidents, including cyberbullying and reputation management, and a guide for parents to understand cybersafety issues and protect their child online, are being developed and are anticipated to be released by the end of this year. Education Queensland will continue to develop resources for state schools, as well as identify and respond to trends in relation to cybersafety and reputation management. It will also seek to develop professional relationships with social network
6 Presentations by Dr Carr-Gregg to school leaders, staff and parents in 10 locations: Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Toowoomba, Brisbane (two), Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Mt Isa and Rockhampton.
providers, including the new Australian executive for Facebook, to facilitate the timely removal of inappropriate content.
3.3 Progress towards implementing recommendations three to eight Recommendations 3 to 8 relate to actions for the Department of Education and Training to undertake on behalf of all three schooling sectors. The following sections summarise work underway in these areas, and some additional information from the other schooling sectors.
3.4 External review to assess implementation What QSAAV considered To gain a more accurate understanding of the uptake by Queensland’s schools of the guidelines and practices promoted in the materials developed by QSAAV, allowing sufficient time for the necessary implementation and cultural change in schools, it was recommended that a review occur within 18 months.
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 3 – Commission an external review within 18 months, using an independent antibullying expert to assess the progress of Queensland schools in implementing the work of QSAAV.
What progress has been made It is clear that the three sectors are promoting and supporting schools to engage with the resources and materials developed by QSAAV. The QSAAV website had recorded 16 539 hits or downloads by the end of July 2011. This progress report provides a snapshot, based on accessible data, of the progress schools, sectors and schooling authorities are making towards implementing the recommendations of the Working Together report. It is noted that the formal external review will be commissioned by March–April 2012 to action this recommendation.
3.5 Expert advice about bullying What QSAAV considered QSAAV recognised that the continual evolution of communication technology, as well as the complexity of interpersonal relationships and child development, meant that bullying and cyberbullying will present ongoing challenges for schools. In recognition of this, it was recommended that it would be beneficial for the government to be able to access expert advice about bullying to inform policy and procedures as new issues emerge.
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 4 – Engage an independent anti-bullying expert to provide ongoing advice to government on issues and policy options as needed.
What progress has been made The Queensland Government appointed Dr Carr-Gregg in October 2010 as its anti-bullying expert. Dr Carr-Gregg has undertaken a number of activities in this role including: • participating in the National Symposium: Strategic responses to school bullying • presenting the 2011 Working Together Against Bullying seminar series for school leaders, school staff and parents in 11 locations across Queensland • developing additional videos for teachers and students about first responses to reports of bullying, complementing the existing video clips for parents available on YouTube • providing advice on anti-bullying resources and strategies that are appropriate for schools • providing advice about possible activities for the 2012 National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence • undertaking research on issues related to mobile phone use and cyberbullying in schools • participating as a panellist in People’s Question Time on 12 August 2011.
3.6 Raising awareness What QSAAV considered Internationally, a number of promotional campaigns have focused on improving community awareness of bullying and cyberbullying. At the conclusion of the 2010 Action Against Bullying education series, which focused on bullying and cyberbullying among students, Dr Carr-Gregg recommended a broad promotional campaign to increase community understanding that bullying and violence are community issues which require a community response. QSAAV recognised that there is a need for schools to engage with the broader community to respond effectively to bullying and cyberbullying, and recommended a promotional campaign to improve awareness of parents and students of these issues.
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 5 – Develop a promotional campaign focused on improving the awareness of parents and students about bullying and cyberbullying.
What progress has been made To improve the awareness of parents and students about bullying and cyberbullying, the Department of Education and Training developed and implemented two initiatives on behalf of all Australian education jurisdictions through the national Safe Supportive Schools Communities Project: • the inaugural National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on 18 March 2011, which focused on bystander behaviour • the associated Take a Stand Together campaign initiated in March 2011. The National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence aims to raise community awareness about bullying and violence, and to provide positive strategies and activities to all Australian school communities.
As part of the 2011 National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, a dedicated Take a Stand Together campaign website was developed. The campaign website was launched by the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett MP, in Brisbane on 17 March 2011. Students were invited to visit the campaign website, create an avatar and select a statement to show their support to taking a stand against bullying. Up to the end of May 2011, 10 000 avatars were created by students nationwide, with over 45% of all avatars created by Queensland students. In addition, over 17% of web traffic to the Take a Stand campaign website was through a Queensland web address. In addition to the national activities to promote the inaugural National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, Queensland schools in all regions conducted local events to recognise the day. Some examples of state school-based activities that occurred include: • a Bully Busters Program at Hermit Park State School • delivery of a social skills workshop with students and parents at Happy Valley State School • the principal and parents and citizens association signing a pledge against bullying at Centenary Heights State High School and Pacific Pines State School. In 2012, the Department of Education and Training will again develop and implement national activities for the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on behalf of all Australian education jurisdictions. National activities will include media partnerships, and numerous promotional activities in development at the time of writing this report, but subject to approval by all Australian education jurisdictions. These promotional activities will be supported by complementary Queensland specific activities and partnerships with local media and personalities to strengthen the impact of campaign messages. The theme for 2012 will focus on building partnerships with families, and students, teachers and parents will be encouraged to wear orange on the day to take a stand against bullying.
3.7 Collaborative action What QSAAV considered The formation and work of QSAAV generated significant momentum to address bullying and violence in all Queensland schools. All three sectors recognised that ongoing collaborative effort is required to support schools and the broader community to deal with bullying and violence, and supported an annual meeting of representatives from the three sectors and other key stakeholders to ensure this occurs.
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 6 – Endorse the annual meeting of representatives from the three schooling sectors and associated stakeholders to continue collaborative action against bullying and violence in Queensland schools.
What progress has been made The reconvening of QSAAV by the Minister with renewed terms of reference provides an opportunity for representatives from the three schooling sectors to continue their collaborative efforts.
3.8 Communicating with students about bullying and violence What QSAAV considered Providing students with opportunities to be engaged and consulted about bullying and violence, including the development of policies, was identified by QSAAV as one of the 10 elements of effective school-based action against bullying. The consultation process undertaken by the Commission for Children and Young People and the Child Guardian, on behalf of QSAAV, provided a model for schools to communicate effectively with students at the local level to ensure appropriate responses to bullying and violence.
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 7 – Develop a strategy for communicating with students about the issues of bullying and violence, including the use of social media options.
What progress has been made The report by the Commission on student engagement7 included the recommendations: • Queensland schools give all students the opportunity to be involved when developing, implementing and monitoring school-based anti-bullying policy and strategies at the local level (recommendation 1) • schools collect local data and information from students to assist in the development of tailored school-based approaches to bullying, and enable the school to internally evaluate the effectiveness of those approaches over time (recommendation 6). The Department of Education and Training is currently investigating valid and appropriate ways to support all schools to engage with students locally about the issues of bullying and violence, and opportunities to use mechanisms such as social media, including mobile phones and online programs, as the platforms for this communication. The Queensland Catholic Education Commission reports that the primary focus of pastoral care at Catholic schools is student care, management and discipline, with an emphasis on preventative care. The holistic development of students is achieved by the whole staff working together to create a safe, supportive learning environment through a whole-school approach. Through involvement in their Catholic faith community, students are encouraged to understand the harm that bullying and violence do to others, and take appropriate action to avoid, rectify and repair situations.
Student Consultation Report: Students’ views about bullying, available at: http://education.qld.gov.au/studentservices/behaviour/qsaav/docs/ consultation_report.pdf
3.9 National action What QSAAV considered To provide advice to the government on how it should respond to Dr Rigby’s report, QSAAV investigated the essential components of professional development for teachers and preservice teachers. QSAAV ultimately determined that work on building the capacity of school staff and graduate teacher training courses to address bullying would be more appropriately progressed at a national level, through the Safe and Supportive School Communities Project. QSAAV was also aware of a number of relevant initiatives underway nationally related to cyberbullying and cybersafety, which will likely influence future directions to address these issues. Most notably, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth report, Avoid the Harm – Stay Calm: Report on the inquiry into the impact of violence on young Australians, released in July 2010, contained recommendations about auditing existing initiatives and programs addressing youth violence, as well as identifying and establishing an appropriate mechanism to support the development of a strong evidence base through systematic and rigorous evaluation of anti-violence intervention and programs, in consultation with state and territory governments and key stakeholders.
What QSAAV recommended Recommendation 8 – Raise, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, national support and effort for the following issues that have been raised in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth report Avoid the Harm – Stay Calm: Report on the inquiry into the impact of violence on young Australians, which are clearly issues facing all jurisdictions: • development of nationally recognised high quality online professional development for school staff on bullying, cybersafety and violence • a process for the evaluation of anti-bullying and anti-violence programs that assists schools to determine the right program for their school’s need • a mechanism for the ongoing identification of high quality research in the areas of bullying and violence to assist all schools in implementing evidence-based practice.
What progress has been made All schooling sectors support this recommendation. The Department of Education and Training is awaiting the Australian Government’s response to the Avoid the Harm – Stay Calm: Report on the inquiry into the impact of violence on young Australians, which is expected to be tabled in the near future. It is anticipated that mechanisms to action the recommendations of the report will involve a number of federal and state agencies. It will be vital to obtain clarity about possible national responses to future work related to violence and bullying at schools through the Ministerial Council, in order to avoid potential duplication of work.8 In March 2011, the Department of Education and Training hosted a National Symposium: Strategic Action Against School Bullying to coincide with the inaugural National Day of 8 The Australian Government released its response to the report on 23 November 2011, after the completion of this report. The response is located at: http://www.deewr.gov.au/Youth/LatestNews/Documents/AustGovnmtResponse_FCHYReport.pdf
Action Against Bullying and Violence. Symposium participants included representatives of all Australian education jurisdictions, representatives from police and justice portfolios, researchers and other key stakeholders. The Symposium made a number of recommendations for future national action to address bullying, which were reported to the Australian Education Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs Senior Officials Committee for consideration at its meeting on 10 June 2011.
Conclusion Over the past 12 months, all three sectors have made considerable efforts to engage with their schools, promote the Working Together suite of resources developed by QSAAV, and implement the recommendations of the Working Together report. In moving forward, all sectors remain committed to supporting schools to address bullying and violence through having access to best practice, evidence-based responses to bullying and violence.
Appendix 1: 2011 QSAAV membership Organisation
Ian O’Connor, Chair
Dave Manttan (March–July) Patrea Walton (August–September) Lyn McKenzie
Independent Schools Queensland
Queensland Catholic Education Commission
Queensland Council for Parents and Citizens’ Association
Margaret Black (March–August) Peter Levett (August–September) Dianne Loddon (September)
The Queensland Independent Schools Parents Council
Federation of Parents and Friends Associations of Catholic Schools
Queensland Secondary Schools Principals’ Association
Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia (Qld)
Christopher Daunt Watney
Association of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools in Australia
Queensland Teachers’ Union
Queensland Independent Education Union
Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (Qld Branch)
Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian
Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian
Appendix B: Recommendations from the 2010 Working Together: Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence Report 1. Urge all Queensland schools to adopt a cybersafety strategy incorporating: • consultation with students, parents and school staff • acceptable use agreements for students and school staff • clear directions about the use of mobile phones and other electronic equipment by students during school hours • regular review of the strategy • inclusion of cybersafety within the school’s teaching and learning program. 2. Promote and maintain existing resources and develop additional resources. 3. Commission an external review within 18 months, using an independent anti-bullying expert to assess the progress of Queensland schools in implementing the work of QSAAV. 4. Engage an independent anti-bullying expert to provide ongoing advice to government on issues and policy options as needed. 5. Develop a promotional campaign focused on improving the awareness of parents and students about bullying and cyberbullying. 6. Endorse the annual meeting of representatives from the three schooling sectors and associated stakeholders to continue collaborative action against bullying and violence in Queensland schools. 7. Develop a strategy for communicating with students about the issues of bullying and violence, including the use of social media options. 8. Raise, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, national support and effort for the following issues that have been raised in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth report Avoid the Harm – Stay Calm: Report on the inquiry into the impact of violence on young Australians, which are clearly issues facing all jurisdictions: • development of nationally recognised high quality online professional development for school staff on bullying, cybersafety and violence • a process for the evaluation of anti-bullying and anti-violence programs that assists schools to determine the right program for their school’s needs • a mechanism for the ongoing identification of high quality research in the areas of bullying and violence to assist all schools in implementing evidence-based practice.
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg Ms Elly Robinson 17 October 2011
Appendix 3: Report to QSAAV on the use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices
Report on use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools to the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence
Background The Queensland Department of Education and Training commissioned this report at the request of the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations on the 15 July 2011. Dr Michael Carr-Gregg was engaged to deliver the report, which involved a review and analysis of the appropriate use of mobile telephones and cyberbullying in Queensland schools. The report will be considered by the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence (QSAAV) in developing advice for the Minister. The specific issues to be considered in this review and analysis are: • current trends and practices on managing or responding to cyberbullying through the use of mobile phones and other mobile communication devices in schools • use by students in schools in Queensland, nationally and internationally • nature, rate and causal factors of cyberbullying occurring through mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools • consideration of options for responding to mobile telephone and other mobile communication device use by students • recommendations on options to manage the responsible use of mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices by students. There will be two parts to this report. Part 1 will summarise existing evidence on the use of mobile phones and other communication devices in schools, and the nature, rate and causal factors for cyberbullying that is related to the use of such tools. Part 2 examines options for responding to mobile telephones and other mobile communication devices in schools, and how to manage the responsible use of these devices in a school setting. In particular, policies and procedures related to the use of mobile phones and other communication devices in schools, and ways to address and respond to cyberbullying across Australia and internationally, will be explored. Examples of good practice in responding to the growing knowledge base regarding cyberbullying will be provided where possible. This report provides an overview of the available literature and is not intended as a systematic review. The authors have mainly concentrated on research and reports that have been published in the past three years, so as to maintain a focus on the contemporary nature of digital communication.
National perspective To frame the discussion in this report, it is important to acknowledge the national policy context in which school-based responses to cyberbullying decisions reside. There is a growing recognition that, due to the increasing use of online communication to undertake social and economic transactions, participation in the digital economy is critical for Australia’s prosperity (Australian Communications and Media Authority [ACMA], 2010). The aim of the Australian Government, as outlined in the National Digital Economy Strategy (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2011), is that Australia will be a leading digital economy by 2020. A Cyber White Paper, to be released in the first half of 2012, will complement this Strategy, with 28
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence 17 October 2011
a related public discussion paper available as a “conversation starter” open for comment until mid-November 2011. It is envisaged that the White Paper will outline how becoming a leading digital economy will be achieved. The National Digital Economy Strategy expresses a need for workers with high-quality skills to maintain Australia’s long-term economic and social prosperity. It is evident that school students of today will need to be equipped with digital communication skills and knowledge like no other generation before them. The dilemma for schools lies in the need to respond to an increasingly open and collaborative online social culture, while making every effort to protect and nurture students at a fragile stage of development and provide them with a safe environment in which to learn. Schools cannot be expected to provide the complete solution, and new ways of developing local, national and global partnerships to address risks and challenges will be pivotal to fruitful action.
Part 1 Part 1 provides an overview of existing evidence on the use of mobile phones and other communication devices by children and young people, and the nature, rate and causal factors for cyberbullying that is related to the use of such tools.
1.1 Use of mobile phones and other communication devices In 2009, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that ownership of mobile phones increases sharply in early adolescence (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2009). Approximately three-quarters of 12–14 year olds owned their own phone compared to just over one-fifth of children aged 9–11 years in 2009. Just over 30% of Queensland children aged 5–14 owned a mobile phone compared to Tasmania (41% – highest ownership) and the Northern Territory (27% – lowest ownership). Take-up and usage of third generation mobile phones in Australia is high compared to European countries and the United States (ACMA, 2010).
1.2 Use of the Internet Only a small number of children and young people used their phone to access the Internet (4%) in 2009, with most use occurring to contact family (60%). Internet usage overall, however, was almost ubiquitous for 12–14 year olds, mainly from home or school (96%) (ABS, 2009). ACMA’s “Click and Connect” study of young people’s use of online social media (GfK Bluemoon, 2009) showed that internet use increased from an average of 4.1 days per week for 1.3 hours per day for 8–11 year olds, to an average of 6.7 days per week for an average of 3.5 hours per day for 16–17 year olds. The use of social networking services also increases from 37% of 8–9 year olds to 97% of 16–17 year olds, once again indicating almost ubiquitous use. These figures indicate just how integral the Internet is to contemporary young people’s lives. Many young people no longer regard technology as a choice, nor do they think online/offline – they think seamless.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence 17 October 2011
1.3 Cyberbullying and cybersafety statistics It is important to recognise that statistics for cyberbullying vary considerably across studies. Differences occur in the way that cyberbullying is defined, the age of study participants, differing study timeframes and inconsistent measures of cyberbullying (Campbell et al., 2010; Willard, 2011), which means that comparisons across studies are difficult to undertake. With this in mind, recent estimates from Australian data include: • 11% of Year 8 students had bullied others using technology and 14% were targets of cyberbullying (Campbell & Gardner, 2005). • 7–10% of Year 4 to Year 9 students had been cyberbullied over a school term (Cross, Shaw, Hearn, Epstein, Monks, Lester & Thomas, 2009). • Between 10 and 20% of children and young people have been cyberbullied in the last 12 months, with 10–15% of students experiencing cyberbullying more than once (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011). • 1% of 8–9 year olds, 10% of 10–11 year olds, 16% of 12–13 year olds and up to 19% of 16–17 year olds have experienced cyberbullying (GfK Bluemoon, 2009). In the UK, O’Brien & Moules (2010) found that almost 20% of young people (10–19 years) had been cyberbullied. However, the definition of cyberbullying used in the questionnaire for students did not appear to stipulate that the behaviour was repeated. It would also be expected that as the use of online communication tools increases, the number of children and young people experiencing cyberbullying would also increase.
1.4 What is, and what isn’t, cyberbullying? The new National Safe Schools Framework (NSSF), which builds on the original 2003 framework, offers a set of guiding principles that promote student wellbeing, safe and supportive school communities and respectful relationships. The new framework specifically identifies new and emerging challenges for schools in the realm of cybersafety and cyberbullying. Policies and procedures are identified as a key element of the framework that will help schools to plan and implement and maintain positive learning communities. It will therefore be important that what constitutes cyberbullying, and just as importantly what is not cyberbullying, is clearly defined within any policy framework. The ensuing definition should be used consistently by anyone who utilises the policies. Cyberbullying is largely seen as a relationship or behavioural problem and not a technological problem (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety [JSC], 2011; Smith et al, 2008), one that is best addressed by educational rather than legal or technological means (JSC, 2011). It also is less likely to happen in isolation from “offline” bullying — many cyberbullies are “offline” bullies, and many cyberbullying victims are “offline” victims, and some are both (Smith et al., 2008; Pearce et al, 2011). What is clear in the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety report (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011), released in July 2011, is that children and young people don’t necessarily see bullying and cyberbullying as separate things, which resonates with the understanding that there is no clear demarcation between the online and offline worlds for children and young people (Willard, 2011).
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence 17 October 2011
Other themes across the literature include: • Cyberbullying is not a one-off act, but occurs repeatedly and over time (Pearce et al., 2011; Smith et al., 2008; Vandebosch & van Cleemput, 2008). Spears et al. (2008) suggest that “repeated” behaviours take on a different meaning in cyberspace, as repetition can occur long after the original event. • It is perceived as anonymous, which may further reduce empathy (O’Brien & Moules, 2010), yet young people are often cyberbullied by people they already know (Willard, 2011). • Cyberbullying is aggressive and intentional (Smith et al., 2008). • The cyberbullying victim cannot easily defend himself or herself (Smith et al., 2008) or escape from cyberbullying (O’Brien & Moules, 2010), particularly as there are an infinite number of potential “supporters” of online bullying who may not otherwise engage in such behaviours offline (Cross et al, 2009). • A power imbalance exists between the two parties engaged in cyberbullying (Spears et al., 2008; Vandebosch & van Cleemput, 2008). Spears et al. (2008) noted that if two individuals of similar power or status have a fight online, it is not necessarily cyberbullying but more likely to be cyberfighting.
1.5 Demographic characteristics of cyberbullying 1.5.1 Age differences Research indicates that cyberbullying is more prevalent amongst older students. For example, Smith et al. (2008) found an increase in involvement in cyberbullying across the 11–16 year age group. Cross et al. (2009) similarly found a clear upward trend across year levels for both parties involved in cyberbullying, which may be associated with access to technology. For example, almost 5% of Year 4 students were cyberbullied, compared to almost 8% of Year 9 students. The “Click and Connect” report indicates that, as young people get older, they are more likely to have friends online that they don’t know in person. This may be due to development of increasing confidence and experience with being discerning about online friends (GfK Bluemoon, 2009).
1.5.2 Gender Differences in cyberbullying according to gender are unclear. In the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-safety Report (JSC, 2011), females generally reported higher rates of experiencing cyberbullying in the previous year. O’Brien & Moules (2010, UK) report that in their study, more than twice the number of girls than boys said they had experienced cyberbullying in some way. Reporting bias, however, is a possibility in both studies. Spears et al. (2009) found that cyberbullying was a strategy used by both genders. Campbell et al. (2010) suggest that boys are increasingly engaging in indirect and socially aggressive behaviours through technology, such as exclusion, isolation and rejection, an area that has traditionally been the domain of girls.
1.5.3 Metropolitan vs. rural Little has been studied or written about the differences in cyberbullying between metropolitan and rural areas. There is some suggestion that rural young people are less likely to use social networking services than their metropolitan counterparts, and place lower levels of importance on the Internet (GfK Bluemoon, 2009), but it is unclear what this difference is due to, e.g. greater social cohesion, lower bandwidth. The Northern Territory submission for the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety pointed to a growing incidence of cybersafety issues related to high mobile phone use (compared to Internet use) among children and young people in remote Indigenous communities (Northern Territory Government, 2010).
1.6 How young people perceive cyberbullying, and how they are affected by it The extent to which students themselves see cyberbullying as a problem remains unclear. In one international study, cyberbullying was seen by participants as less of a negative aspect to ICT use compared to being contacted by strangers or paedophiles, computer viruses or hacking (Vandebosch & van Cleemput, 2008). In the report of the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-safety (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011), students had differing reactions to what was described as cyberbullying — some were deeply affected whereas some were able to shrug it off, and others still did not interpret certain acts as cyberbullying. It is suggested that young people may not be aware of the harm they cause through cyberbullying (O’Brien & Moules, 2010) and may consider something as a joke or idle remark, whereas the victim takes it extremely seriously (Cross et al., 2009). Some young people see cyberbullying as harder to avoid whereas others see “offline” bullying as more so, although there is some suggestion in the literature that this may be indicative of discounting or denial behaviours (Spears et al., 2008). A three-year study of over 4,000 students on the effects of cyberbullying has recently been completed in Australia, which indicates that there were more mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, in children who reported cyberbullying than those who had been bullied offline. Although students indicated they thought that cyberbullying was not as bad as offline bullying, the actual results indicated that it was (JSC, 2011). A UK study indicated that young people who had been cyberbullied felt effects in terms of their confidence, selfesteem and mental and emotional wellbeing, and many stopped socialising outside of school. It is important to note, however, that the most common response to how cyberbullying had affected them was “not at all” (O’Brien & Moules, 2010).
1.7 In or out of school? One of the key considerations for schools is the extent to which they take responsibility for cyberbullying that occurs outside of school hours. While some research has found that cyberbullying is either equal or greater out of school time compared to “offline” bullying, what is evident is that there is often a transference and continuation of cyberbullying behaviours from home to school or vice versa. Spears et al. (2008) described this as “cyclical” bullying, where location but also type of bullying (offline/online) may change over time, and suggest that the boundaries between home and school will need to be rethought as a result. As 32
Smith et al. (2008) suggest, cyberbullying “… is not an issue that school can ignore by simply banning mobile phone/internet use in school …” (p. 382). It is also apparent from the literature that what happens outside of school can have a considerable impact on in-school engagement, both in terms of academic work and peer relationships. McGrath (2009) suggests that schools should be informed about any out-ofschool incidents and have the right to intervene or follow-up. A responsible use policy may include an understanding that the school can and will follow-up and take action related to events outside of school if they impact on in-school activities and learning.
1.8 Bystanders Bystanders are considered undervalued as a way of increasing responsiveness to cyberbullying, but unfortunately little research has been undertaken on their role in cyberbullying to date (Spears et al., 2008). It has been suggested that up to 50% of young people have witnessed cyberbullying, for example, seeing a post or series of posts on a social networking site that spreads gossip about a friend (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011). Education of bystanders, to encourage support of students who they have witnessed being cyberbullied, is suggested in the literature (JSC, 2011). Pearce et al. (2011) suggested that an important component of a school culture that supports students is engaging the peer group in an effective manner. Australian research is currently being undertaken regarding young people’s perceptions of being a bystander in online environments (JSC, 2011). Focus group trials have been completed and main data was due to be collected by mid-2011.1
1.9 Developmental considerations There are a number of strategies suggested in the literature that call on an increase in children and young people’s skills and knowledge to combat cyberbullying, for example, increasing empathic awareness (JSC, 2011; Willard, 2011) and helping young people self-regulate emotions (Willard, 2011). Yet the cognitive developmental level of different students inevitably restricts some of these approaches. Brain growth research in recent years has provided new insight into a biological basis for adolescent behaviours, with neurodevelopment in regions associated with regulation of behaviour and emotion continuing into early adulthood (Patton & Viner, 2007). In other words, children and young adolescents may have difficulties with emotional and impulse control because they simply do not have the biological tools to do otherwise. This helps to explain impulsive or “risk-taking” behaviours that occur in adolescence, seemingly without a consideration of the consequences involved. For example, in ACMA’s Click and Connect report, 25% of young people aged 12-17 years “do things they know they shouldn’t” (although no specific examples of behaviours are provided) (GfK Bluemoon, 2009). Spears et al. (2008) touch on the use of technology to forge an identity, a critical developmental task in adolescence. This can be negative, i.e. the use of technology to gain infamy and status, but it can also help marginalised young people access emotional and social support and find digital communities who share non-mainstream interests (Willard, 2011). Likewise, communication tools such as social networking services can play a role in 1
See: http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/Homepage.asp?Name=barbara.spears for information updates on this study.
developing and expressing a sense of identity and community and negotiating interpersonal relationships, all important developmental tasks in adolescence (Collin et al., 2011). As stated by Spears et al. (2008): Because of the new technologies available, there is now a wealth of opportunity to be creative in one’s quest for popularity, and simultaneously, a wealth of ways in which to be persecuted for one’s poor judgement. (p. 19)
1.10 There are positives, too … The significant positive benefits of communication technologies are often ignored in public debate about young people and cyberbullying. For example, Collin et al. (2011) point out that many young people use these tools for sharing creative projects, to engage in formal and informal educational opportunities and to facilitate supportive relationships. Examples from Australian schools are starting to appear. For example, mobile phones have been used in Queensland schools as audio and video recorders, cameras on school excursions and the recording of lessons for later review and study. Anecdotal evidence related to the use of mobile phones in Health and Physical Education classes by one teacher indicated that students were collaboratively engaged in the process, increased their ability to learn independently and achieved excellent results. Working with school leaders to ensure policy is followed and student safety is not compromised is characteristic of the described approach.2 Hartnell-Young and Vetere (2008) also describe a small study in the Northern Territory, where Indigenous students were given mobile phones to record aspects of their dayto-day living and show it at school. The authors report the benefits of the camera phones to capture students’ oral and visual stories, and the increase in their self-esteem over the course of the project.
Part 2 2.1 Policy development regarding cyberbullying in schools Cyberbullying has attracted much media attention but very little empirical research, and many approaches to addressing behaviour have drawn on responses to traditional face to face bullying (Pearce et al., 2011). The bottom line is that little is known about “what works” to reduce cyberbullying at this stage, as there is very little research or evaluation of cyberbullying and cybersafety interventions (JSC, 2011; Willard, 2011). The 2009 systematic review of cyber-abuse interventions undertaken for the Campbell Collaboration (Mishna, Cook, Saini, Wu & McFadden, 2009) found only three studies that met their eligibility criteria3, all of which showed an increase in knowledge but none of which showed statistically significant effect sizes for post-intervention behaviour changes. In other words, there had been no studies undertaken at the time of writing this review that showed a change in Internet or mobile phone behaviours as a result of any interventions. Where information regarding cybersafety is provided, it does not mean that this will translate into safer behaviours online (Connolly, Maurushat, Vaile & van Dijk, 2011). 2 Article provided by the Queensland Department of Education and Training, from the Learning Technologies, Web and Digital Delivery Unit. 3 Eligibility criteria included programs that had targeted outcomes primarily related to children and youth exposed to the Internet or mobile phones, the study used a control group, random allocation of study participants occurred, and a post-program measure of knowledge or behaviour was taken.
There is some suggestion in the literature that strategies to increase knowledge and adoption of protective behaviours online should be followed up by role-playing experiences, including virtual reality (Connolly et al, 2011). One study that compared cybersafety programs, including Hector’s World and Netsmartz, indicated that role-playing in an electronic medium could assist children and young people to practice new behaviours and decision-making skills in context. The equal importance of awareness raising and developing decision-making skills was emphasised (Berson, Berson, Desai, Falls & Fenaughty, 2008). Overseas studies are also available that help to frame policy development. For example, a small-scale survey of 35 schools in England in 2009 (Ofsted, 2010) examined the extent to which schools teach students to adopt safe and responsible practices in using new technologies. The study found that: • The twenty-one most effective schools had a well-considered and active approach to keeping students safe, and helped them take responsibility for their own behaviour. For example, “acceptable use” policies were unambiguous, links with families were evident and e-safety knowledge was carefully tailored to developmental levels. • The thirteen schools that used “lock down” systems (that had more inaccessible sites than managed systems) were less effective in helping students to learn how to use technologies safely — students were therefore more vulnerable overall, as they did not have opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risks themselves. • In the five most outstanding schools, all staff, including members of the wider workforce, shared responsibility for e-safety. Senior leaders, governors, staff and families worked together to develop a clear strategy for e-safety, with policies regularly reviewed to keep abreast of technological change. • Outstanding schools catered particularly well for vulnerable students, for example, by providing after-school access to ICT systems, individual approaches to e-safety and tailored approaches to advice on e-safety, chat rooms, mobile phone and social networking site use for the student and his/her family. In terms of the blurred boundaries between in-school and out of school cyberbullying behaviours, ACMA suggests that cyberbullying policies may extend to behaviour that occurs out of school that involves or impacts on students.4 Willard (2011) suggests that if out of school behaviours are included, the policy needs to state that activities that cause or may cause a substantial disruption at school or interfere in students’ right to be safe and participate in school activities will be responded to. Some suggestions in the literature are counterintuitive to what is expected. For example, filtering is considered a technical response to a social question (Moyle, 2009) and is not considered instrumental in stopping cyberbullying (JSC, 2011). Responsible use policies are also based on the premise that children and young people need to learn to be responsible users, yet this cannot occur if there is no choice available. Excessive monitoring of Internet use by children and young people may inhibit the development of understanding about using technologies responsibly in other contexts. An analogy is a child who holds a parent’s hand every time he crosses the road, but unless he is taught to cross it alone, he may not learn to do this independently (Ofsted, 2010). Policy in this space needs to find a balance between monitoring and allowing young people to independently negotiate their own boundaries when developmentally ready. 4
Philip Slee (JSC, 2011) refers to research on bans of mobile phones that found the ban to be ineffective, and has suggested that the harder path is education, understanding and increasing knowledge for both adults and children about how to manage life in a digital age. The Learning on Line website (provided by the Victoria by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development) provides some critical advice regarding the use of social media tools from their experiences of trials and pilots over the past three years.5 These include: • Having a specific and clearly articulated educational purpose for using technology, for example, collaboration or group interchange. • Work with tools designed for education wherever possible. • Any social media tools created for the classroom should be administered, and therefore moderated, by the teacher. • Refer to terms and conditions on external sites to assess their suitability (e.g. privacy, safety). • Parent permission must be obtained for sites where a student does not meet the terms and conditions (e.g. they must be over 13 years of age), or where student work or photos are being published to the Internet. • Personal information must not be published, including a student’s name as an email address, and students should use avatars or general, rather than personal, photos if necessary. • Develop and implement acceptable use agreements, with clear consequences for breaches of behaviour. • Skills and knowledge to act safely online are explicitly taught and reinforced when new technologies are introduced. • Involvement of the whole school community can be encouraged by sharing students’ work, e.g. via staff meetings, newsletters.
2.2 Policy regarding mobile phone use in schools There appears to be an increasing shift to recognising the benefit of mobile phone use in a classroom setting. Policy development in this area is presently caught between recognition of the potential power (and savings on resources) of mobile communication technologies as educational tools, and concern for the possible increase in cyberbullying incidents if mobile phones legitimately enter the schoolgrounds. In the US, initially restrictive policies regarding mobile phone use by students were reviewed after the Columbine school shootings in 1996 and the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and mobile phone use policy was deferred to local school districts (Thomas & Orthober, 2011). While the majority of secondary schools have bans on mobile phone use or possession on school grounds, some schools are starting to recognise the benefits of student use of mobile phones, such as the Dysart Unified School District in Arizona. Initially, policy changes in Dysart were born of financial need, as cuts to budgets meant that updating computers and programs became difficult; however, in September 2010, the governing board voted to allow mobile phones in class “for research purposes”.6 Network etiquette and privacy considerations are part of acceptable use policies, as well as specific policies for staff using microblogging (Twitter), mobile devices, and social networking.7 5
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/management/lol/ http://www.azcentral.com/community/westvalley/articles/2010/10/15/20101015dysart-unified-school-district-cellphone-policy.html 7 https://schoolweb.dysart.org/EdTech/Content.aspx?eiID=179 6
An article published in the Education Week Online in 20108 further indicates that schools in the US are beginning to adapt policy to allow the use of students’ own mobile phones to access for classroom activities using the school’s wireless network. Phones are provided to students who do not own a personal handset to offset any inequity issues, which is seen as a minimal cost compared to the provision of laptops. In terms of addressing misuse of phones, a responsible use approach that sees education about proper conduct with a universallyused workplace device is taken, and misuse is framed as a behavioural, not a technological problem. Gaining parents’ trust that students will not use the phones inappropriately is considered essential, through discussion and preparation for exploring new learning methods. The article also outlines five tips for policy change, if mobile phone use in schools is considered: 1. Know why policy is being re-examined. A policy designed to utilise phones for learning may not also serve the purpose of curbing disciplinary problems or easing teacher-student tensions. Separate but interlinked policies may be needed. 2. Let the community know why the change is being considered, to offset concerns that inschool use may mirror out-of-school use. 3. Involve teachers in the policy making, as teachers and students are the most affected parties. 4. Know how prevalent mobile phone use is amongst students, and consider how provision will be made for those who don’t own a phone. ACMA provides a “student technology audit” template for use by schools for the purpose of understanding type and frequency of use. This is ostensibly to inform cybersafety initiatives, but could be used more generally in shaping teaching responses.9 5. Professional development is critical, as educational applications evolve rapidly.
2.3 Australian jurisdictional comparison (outside of Queensland) Policy responses to cyberbullying in Australia have a recent history. Campbell et al. (2010) suggest that policy makers in South Australia were the first to move when cyberbullying was brought to the attention of school principals in the Australian press, in 2003. The current centerpiece of South Australian government school policy related to cyberbullying is the Cyber safety: Keeping children safe in a connected world guidelines10, which lead in with a set of positive statements about how the online environment provides new and engaging ways to learn and connect with social and knowledge networks. The document then recognises the importance of digital citizenship and acceptable, responsible and ethical use. The policies and associated advice are organised into four sections, each of which talks about the policy responsibility of principals/directors and provides recommendations on good practice. The areas are: 1. Access and security 2. User identification and passwords 3. Appropriate behaviour and use 4. Acceptable use agreements 8
http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Schools/Cybersafety%20policies%20and%20procedures/Student%20technology%20audit.aspx 10 See: http://www.decs.sa.gov.au/speced2/pages/cybersafety/36219/?reFlag=1
The South Australian policy documents explicitly state that incidents that are offsite and out of school hours that affect students will be treated as a behaviour management issue and will be dealt with through the school behaviour code, with appropriate consequences, including police involvement if necessary. An accompanying circular from the Chief Executive of the Department of Education and Children’s Services clearly expresses that behaviour beyond the school gate is also the responsibility of the school. In New South Wales, the Student Discipline in Government Schools policy indicates that this policy may apply outside of hours and outside of school premises. This is accompanied by a digital citizenship education program that encourages responsible use of social networking sites, as well as an educational strategy for parents. The policy recognises the role of parents in supervision as critical to addressing cyberbullying, as it largely occurs outside the school environment. Tasmanian policy also recognises that the Internet is an important tool and that students need to be able to operate effectively in online environments, while risks are minimised by the use of supervision, filters, education and behaviour management.11 Victoria has a new “Building Respectful and Safe Schools” policy that encompasses a broad definition of the school environment including digital learning spaces, digital communication and situations where students are outside the classroom.12 This resource supports broader policy guidelines that require all Victorian Government schools to have a Student Engagement Policy in place. This policy outlines school rights, responsibilities and shared expectations, which includes responding to bullying and cyberbullying, and is developed in consultation with the whole school community. The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development also hosts a website titled Learning on Line13 that provides recommendation and advice for leaders and teachers regarding cybersafety and responsible use. The importance of students taking increasing responsibility for their own behaviour online is also promoted, including strategies to develop student leadership in the area. Many jurisdictions recognise that schools have always had policies to deal with behaviour and safety, and that whether online or offline students are expected to respond to these expectations. Western Australian resources also provide the following guidelines in establishing school policies regarding online behaviours: • Consult widely with the school community; • Recognise that parents have differing ideas about what is acceptable for their children to view online; and • Consider the age of the student and the outcomes that teachers and parents want to negotiate for students. The level of actual student involvement in creating cyberbullying policy is unclear across the jurisdictions. Many young people, however, have greater experience with the use of social media and other digital communication tools than adults, and are often more capable of understanding and responding to risk online than adults give them credit for (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011).
11 12 13
See: http;//www.education.tas.gov.au/dept/legislation/itpolicies/filtering/web-safety-in-schools-policy. See: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/healthwellbeing/respectfulsafe/default.htm http://www.education.vic.gov.au/management/lol/
2.3.1 Acceptable and responsible use policies ACMA suggests the development of acceptable use policies and codes of conduct to provide guidelines that ensure ICTs, including mobile phones, are used responsibly and productively in schools.14 Specific usage guidelines and consequences of misuse are suggested, similar to the Ofsted (2010) report that suggests such policies for both students and families should be unambiguous, and rigorous follow-up should occur of those not signed. All states and territories in Australia have acceptable use policies for students, with South Australia and Western Australia having versions appropriate to three different age groups.
2.3.2 Vulnerable groups Particular policy responses are needed for vulnerable groups (Mishna et al., 2009), including Indigenous children and young people, young people with a chronic illness or disability, those from other cultural backgrounds, same-sex attracted young people, and children and young people in out-of-home-care. Young people at risk online are likely to be those most at risk offline, and mental health, home and school environments will be a better predictor of risk than the types of technology a young person is engaged in using (Willard, 2010).
2.4 Beyond schools â€Ś Schools are not alone in their responses to cyberbullying. Parents should also be involved in policy development, as â€œcontinuity of careâ€? is an important factor in reducing cyberbullying (Ofsted, 2010). As incidences of cyberbullying often occur at home and continue at school (or vice versa), there is a need to strengthen relationships between schools and parents (Pearce et al., 2011). While whole-school approaches are often advocated, there is limited positive evidence to indicate their efficacy (Cross et al., 2009; Tangen & Campbell, 2010), although neither does evidence exist to say something else is superior or that whole-school approaches should be abandoned (Tangen & Campbell, 2010). A whole-community response is also advocated in the literature (JSC, 2011; Willard, 2011), but even further than this, the boundary-less nature of the Internet means that cyberbullying is a global problem requiring a global response (Spears et al., 2008). A trend in international co-operation to provide leadership and consistent approaches is becoming increasingly evident (ACMA, 2009), and schools need to continue to look abroad for support and innovative, co-ordinated approaches that can impact on education at a local level.
2.5 The need for further research and evaluation The recommendations in this report will ideally be complemented with an evaluation process that allows schools to measure whether policy changes are making a difference to cyberbullying behaviours, not just knowledge. This can begin with the collection of local baseline data for comparative purposes. This can also include a process of evaluation of school responses to specific cyberbullying events, involving the students and their families and any student witnesses. There are a number of calls in the literature for ongoing local data 14
collection, with consistent definitions and measurements, for use in planning and evaluation (Willard, 2011; Cross et al., 2009), with continuous improvement being undertaken as a result of evaluation. Guidelines on addressing cybersafety should be premised on a sound evidence base (JSC, 2011) and as such, the recommendations outlined in this report are provided with the caveat that evidence on this topic is still significantly limited.
Summary and analysis There is no clear link in the literature between mobile phone policy in schools and cyberbullying, with no evidence found that an increase in use of mobile phones in school will lead directly to greater incidences of cyberbullying. What is understood is that with the advent of 3G and even 4G capabilities, mobile phones and other communication tools have become powerful possessions, and the use of these tools and the Internet are almost ubiquitous by senior high school. The risk of cyberbullying is not unlike a number of public health problems that have previously been tackled by society. An analogy can be drawn with the pervasive use of cars, and car accidents. In an effort to avoid accidents, young people need to reach a certain level of proficiency before they are permitted to drive alone, and rules and regulations are in place that are monitored by law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The responsible use of communication tools can be dealt with in a similar way, via young people exhibiting a level of proficiency and then abiding by a set of rules that constitute responsible use, and that are monitored by people in a supervisory role. As with licensing for driving, the authors of this review feel that a “licence” for the responsible use of digital communication tools should be a mandatory condition of use. Such a system could be developed in association with ACMA, the Commonwealth Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s eSmart Schools, and the Australian Federal Police. A special licence may need to be developed for Indigenous young people in rural and remote communities. While there are no guarantees that the rate of cyberbullying in schools with more relaxed mobile phone policies will not increase, equally there has been no evidence found to contradict a view that legitimising mobile phone use in school and utilising these tools for learning could have positive benefits to students and reduce cyberbullying incidents. What seems certain, however, is that similar to car accidents, a certain amount of cyberbullying will always occur no matter what rules and restrictions are in place. The benefits of the use of communication tools in schools will need to be seen to outweigh the risks. Ultimately, schools also need to deal with public perceptions, and this is where a conservative approach, at least initially, may be valid. A safe way forward may be to consider that any adaptation in policy related to use of mobile phones in an educational setting is initially piloted and evaluated with senior school students, with a view to increasingly involving younger students. This is not to say that the use of technology and engagement in cybersafety education should not occur at younger year levels — this is clearly important as the use of phones and the Internet begins well before high school.
That a “core elements”, rather than prescriptive, approach to policy development is recommended, due to the geographical, cultural and socio-economic diversity in Queensland.
That the flexibility offered by a “core elements” approach to policy development is determined by: a. developmental stages of adolescence; b. level of support and assistance available in regions/local areas; c. bandwidth availability, availability of mobile phones and 3G; and d. capabilities of teaching staff.
That cyberbullying policies in schools are focused on generating behavioural change in a broad safety context, in recognition that cyberbullying is a relationship/behavioural problem, not a technological problem. Responses should be educational, rather than legal or technologically based.
That children, young people, parents and teachers are always involved in policy development to the extent possible, as recommended in the NSSF.
That professional development for school staff regarding cyberbullying is systematically planned and includes all teaching and support staff.
That schooling sectors in Queensland partner with ACMA and/or the Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to expand on and offline training materials.
That cyberbullying policies developed by schools provide clear, unambiguous advice about: • what constitutes inappropriate behaviours; and • the consequences for breaching school regulations and policies as well as state and federal laws, noting that young people are much less likely to speak up about cyberbullying if they perceive that their access to technology will be denied.
That in developing policies on cyberbullying and mobile phone use in schools, schools consider the impact of cyberbullying on vulnerable groups, such as Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse children and young people, same-sex attracted young people, young people with a chronic illness or disability, and children and young people in out-of-home care, as these young people at risk offline are the most likely to be at risk online.
That schools work in a local, national and international context to inform the adoption of mobile phone technologies in schools where applicable, and to address cyberbullying and cybersafety.
10. That schools establish easily accessible methods for students to report cyberbullying concerns, including an online reporting option, similar to the Electronic Bully Box at Prince Alfred College in Adelaide. 11. That Queensland schools introduce an online test for students which could be completed prior to students having access to school based information and communication technology, including mobile phones or other communication devices provided by the school. This test could be designed similarly to the ones utilised by Vic Roads (http://webapps.vicroads.vic.gov.au/vrne/vrlpq.nsf/ start?OpenForm), which provide for young people contemplating sitting a driver’s licence to complete a Learner Permit Practice Test on the web. 12. That a bullying app is designed and introduced, along the lines of the UK application which can be found at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bullyinguk/id348990083?mt=8 13. That the Minister of Education and Industrial Relations uses the annual National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence in 2012 to promote key messages and targeted resources around the responsible use of mobile phones and other communication devices in schools. Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence 17 October 2011
References Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008). Australian social trends 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.abs. gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0 Chapter10002008 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009). Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2009 (Cat. No. 4901.0). Canberra: Author. Australian Communications and Media Authority (2010). Online risk and safety in the digital economy. Retrieved from: http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_311304 Berson, I., Berson, M., Desai, S., Falls, D. & Fenaughty, J. (2008). An analysis of electronic media to prepare children for safe and ethical practices in digital environments. Contemporary issues in technology and social studies teacher education, 8(3). Retrieved from: http://www.citejournal.org/vol8/ iss3/socialstudies/article2.cfm Campbell, M., & Gardner, S. (2005). Cyberbullying in high school. Unpublished manuscript. In: Campbell, M., Spears, B., Cross, D., & Slee, P. (2010) Cyberbullying in Australia. In MoraMerchan, J. & Jager, T. (Eds.) Cyberbullying: A Cross-National Comparison. Verlag Empirische Padagogik, Landau. Campbell, M., Spears, B., Cross, D., & Slee, P. (2010) Cyberbullying in Australia. In Mora-Merchan, J. & Jager, T. (Eds.) Cyberbullying: A Cross-National Comparison. Verlag Empirische Padagogik, Landau. Collin, P., Rahilly, K., Richardson, I. & Third, A. (2011). The benefits of social networking services: A literature review. Melbourne: Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing. Connolly, C., Maurushat, A., Vaile, D. & van Dijk, P. (2011). An overview of international cyber-security awareness raising and educational initiatives. Retrieved from: http://www.acma.gov.au/webwr/_assets/ main/lib310665/galexia_report-overview_intnl_cybersecurity_awareness.pdf Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L. & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian cover bullying prevalence study (ACBPS). Perth: Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2011). Connecting with confidence: Optimising Australia’s digital future. Retrieved from: http://cyberwhitepaper.dpmc.gov.au/white-paper Hartnell-Young, E. & Vetere, F. (2008). A means of personalising learning: incorporating old and new literacies in the curriculum with mobile phones. The Curriculum Journal, 19(4), 283–292. Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. (2011, 3 February). Cybersafety issues affecting children and young people, [Adelaide] (Transcript). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. McGrath, H. (2009). Young people and technology: A review of the current literature. Retrieved from: http://www.amf.org.au/Research/ Mishna, F., Cook, C., Saini, M., Wu, M. & MacFadden, R. (2009). Interventions for children, youth and parents to prevent and reduce cyber abuse. Campbell Systematic Reviews 2009:2. Retrieved from: www. campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/681/ Moyle, K. (2009). Varying approaches to Internet safety: The role of filters in schools. University of Canberra, Australia. Retrieved from: http://www.cosn.org/Resources/2009CoSNPressReleases/ tabid/4474/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/268/Varying-Approaches-to-Internet-Safety.aspx
New South Wales Government (2010). Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. Retrieved from: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jscc/subs/sub_94.pdf Northern Territory Government (2010). Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. Retrieved from: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jscc/subs/sub_84.pdf O’Brien, N. & Moules, T. (2010). The impact of cyberbullying on young people’s mental health: Final report. UK: Anglia Ruskin University Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) (2010). The safe use of new technologies. Manchester, UK: Author. Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia (2011). High-wire act: Cyber Safety and the Young. Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. Retrieved from: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jscc/ report.htm Patton, G., & Viner, R. (2007). Pubertal transitions in health. The Lancet, 369, 1130–1139. Pearce, N., Cross, D., Monks, H., Waters, S. & Falconer, S. (2011). Current evidence of best practice in whole-school bullying intervention and its potential to inform cyberbullying interventions. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 21(1). 1–21. Smith, P., Mahdavi, J., Carvahlo, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S. & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(4), 376–385. Spears, B., Slee, P., Owens, L. & Johnson, B. (2008). Behind the scenes: Insights into the human dimension of covert bullying. Adelaide: Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, University of South Australia. Vandebosch, H. & van Cleemput, K. (2008). Defining cyberbullying: A qualitative research into the perceptions of youngsters. Cyberpsychology and behavior, 11(4), 499–503. Willard, N. (2010). Techno-panic and 21st century education: Make sure Internet safety messaging does not undermine education for the future. Retrieved from: http://www.cyberbully.org/documents/ Willard, N. (2011). Cyberbullying, sexting and predators, oh my! Addressing youth risk in the digital age in a positive and restorative manner. Retrieved from: http://csriu.org/documents/documents/IssueBrief. pdf
Appendix 4: Quick reference guide for teachers on cybersafety and cyberbullying
Quick reference guide for teachers on cybersafety and cyberbullying
Introduction The rapid advances in digital technology, including computers and smart phones, provide both enormous opportunities and complex challenges for schools. Teaching students to use technology appropriately and responsibly, and also how to behave in ways to enhance their own safety, can and should be incorporated in every school’s curriculum. Unlike previous generations, children and young people are engaging with technology at earlier ages, and seem to meld their offline and online lives seamlessly. We know that many children are not receiving information about cybersafety until they are seven or eight years of age, when they may have already been online for three years or more. We also know children and young people do not always comprehend the consequences of their actions online, and that the ‘digital footprint’ they create in their youth may adversely impact on their future.1 It is also apparent that while children and young people may be savvy with technology, they may be less aware of some dangers to which they may be exposed, such as identity theft, or that certain behaviour, like sharing passwords or passing on some types of information, is inappropriate. Cybersafety refers to the safe and responsible use of information and communication technologies, and includes protecting your personal information online, surfing the net safely and being aware of inappropriate behaviours. With the increase in online socialising by young people, cyberbullying is emerging as a new frontier of bullying, with an extensive reach into all facets of the lives of young people. Cyberbullying, like traditional bullying, is related to behaviour that involves the systematic and repeated abuse of power. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that occurs through the use of information or communication technologies such as instant messaging, text messages, email and social networking sites. It has many similarities with offline bullying, but it differs in that the student who is bullying can be anonymous, it can reach a wide audience, and any material sent or uploaded can be difficult to remove.2 Enhancing children and young people’s knowledge of cyberbullying — what it is, how to respond, and how to keep themselves safe online — is critical for creating confident, resilient individuals, and avoiding the long-term damage that can arise from bullying.
Why are teachers important? Bullying and cyberbullying seem to peak at certain times for children and young people, such as pre-school to primary school, Years 4 and 5 and the transition from primary school to high school. While cyberbullying and cybersafety are community issues which require a response from parents and the broader community, teachers can play an important part in helping children 1 2
Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety (2011). High-Wire Act: Cyber-Safety and the Young. MCEECDYA (2011). National Safe Schools Framework Resource Manual.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence November 2011
and young people understand how to use technology ethically and responsibly, as well as how to identify and respond to incidents of cyberbullying. We know from the research that teachers have an incredible influence on the outcomes of the children and young people they teach.3 As we move towards a digital economy, it is critical that teachers develop the skills and enlist the resources to assist children and young people become responsible digital citizens. Teachers have an important and valued role to play in the education of children and young people, and to assist them to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of cybersafety and cyberbullying. The directory below outlines resources and training currently available to teachers.
What resources are available? This directory lists some programs and resources for teachers and other educators related to cybersafety and cyberbullying. Awareness raising for teachers
Internet Safety Awareness Presentations offered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, provides general internet safety awareness presentations for teachers, parents and students as part of the Cybersmart Outreach program.
Bullying No Way! provides information for teachers explaining the concepts of bullying, cyberbullying and harassment.
Teachers and Parents Advisory Group on Cybersafety is a forum to share ideas on how to best protect children, and how to promote online safety messages to Australian families.
Department of Education and Training has resources and fact sheets for schools, teachers and parents.
Who’s Chatting to your Kids? & Surf Safely – Queensland Police Service provides practical information about internet safety, including the technology being used by children, and how to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.
http://www.police.qld.gov.au/Resources/ Internet/programs/personalSafety/documents/ Whos%20chatting%20to%20your%20kids.pdf
ThinkUknow Campaign – Australian Federal Police provides information and resources on cybersafety to parents, carers, teachers and youth aged 11 to 17 years.
McKinsey and Company (2007). How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence November 2011
Resources for teachers Tagged! is a film resource which is designed to encourage young people to reflect on the real life consequences of cyberbullying, sexting and a negative digital reputation. It is supported by lesson plans, as well as character reflection interviews, and is appropriate for young people aged 14 years and over.
Cybersmart Teacher Resources provide resources for primary and secondary teachers to support cybersafety education.
http://www.bullyingnoway.com.au/ Bullying No Way! offers a range of resources gettingstarted/ideasforteachersparents.shtm and ideas for teachers to use in the classroom, including for children under 8 — Junior Chill Out — as well as older children and young people. Budd:e-cybersecurity education package comprises a series of media-rich and interactive learning activities for Australian school students. It has two learning modules, one for primary students and one for secondary students, which help student adopt safe and secure online practices.
Hector’s World is an online game for children aged 2–9 years designed to offer practical guidance on managing risks and reinforce the importance of responsible online behaviour.
Cybersmart Detectives is an online game in which children (aged 11–12) interact in real time with approved internet safety experts working in ‘virtual control rooms’.
http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/cybernetrix/ CyberNetrix offers interactive online safety tools aimed at secondary school students (aged 13–16). While the students can interact with the program, the teacher guide includes an additional 11 downloadable activities for students. CyberQuoll is an online safety resource aimed at upper primary school students (aged 8–12). It covers cyberbullying, scams and hoaxes, netiquette and dodgy content on internet sites, and is recommended for use by teachers, students and parents.
Let’s fight it together is a comprehensive teaching http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Schools/ Teacher%20resources/Lower%20secondary/ resource on cyberbullying, and includes lesson Lets%20fight%20it%20together.aspx plans and a video. It is designed to help young people (aged 12–13), teachers and parents understand the issues around cyberbullying.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence November 2011
http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Schools/ Cybersmart Access addresses the cybersafety needs of children and young people with learning Teacher%20resources/Cybersmart%20Access. aspx difficulties in mainstream and special education schools. It is developed to teach students how to protect themselves from potential online dangers. ThinkUknow Meganâ€™s story is a resource designed for teachers and students in Years 7 to 12 to interrogate the issue of sexting. The accompanying lesson plan includes discussion questions and activities designed to stimulate discussion.
Kids Help Line has partnered with Optus to create a cybersafety lesson plan pact to educate students about cyberbullying and sexting.
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/ Common Sense Media (US) is a not-for-profit curriculum organisation which provides a comprehensive cybersafety curriculum, as well as other materials. NetSafe (NZ) is a resource hub for internet safety in New Zealand, providing cybersafety education for children, parents, schools, community organisations and businesses.
Netsafe NZ Cyberbullying provides advice and information for teachers, young people and parents about how to deal with cyberbullying.
Digital Citizenship Lessons (NSW) covers topics including security, digital footprints, making friends, purchasing online and netiquette.
Teachers TV (UK) offers anti-bullying videos to use as teaching resources.
Professional development for teachers Cybersafety Outreach â€“ Professional Development for Educators program is a free one-day workshop designed to provide primary and secondary teachers with a comprehensive understanding of the technology students are using, as well as current cybersafety issues and risks.
Connect.ed is an online self-paced education program for primary and secondary teachers. Through this program, teachers can learn about current online behaviours, potential risks involved in these activities, and appropriate tools, resources and strategies to help students have safe and positive experiences online.
The nature, causes and responses Paul Mazerolle Margot Legosz Paul Finighan December 2011
Appendix 5: Executive summary of the report to QSAAV on weapons in schools in Queensland
Weapons in schools in Queensland
Introduction Student violence has been highlighted as a worldwide issue of concern. Overall, however, schools provide relatively safe environments: youth violence at school only contributes to a relatively small proportion of youth violence overall. In 2007, for example, 5,764 young people aged 10 to 24 were murdered in the United States — an average of 16 each day. However, less than 1 per cent of all murders and suicides among school-aged youth occurred on school grounds, on the way to or from school, or on the way to or from school-sponsored events (Centers for Disease Control, 2010). In Australia, national mortality data indicate that assaults account for about 2 per cent of all deaths of young people aged 12–24 years. However, 2005 national hospital morbidity data1 indicate that 31.3 per cent (n=85/272) of males aged 0–14 years who were hospitalised for an assault were assaulted at school, although far fewer females aged 0–14 years (n=10/121; 8.3%) were assaulted at school (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2008). We must assume, therefore, that violence will occur in schools and that weapons may be brought to school and used in some cases. Thus, there are clear needs to examine violence and weapon carrying and use in schools to better inform prevention initiatives.
The terms of reference for this report This report has been developed in response to a request from the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations, Cameron Dick MP, to advise him on the following matters: • The nature, causes and responses to weapon based violence in schools in Australia and internationally • Evidence based strategies that have been most effective in dealing with this issue nationally and internationally • A review of laws or policy responses to weapons in schools in other jurisdictions • The gaps in Queensland laws or policies framing the response to weapons in schools. Our methodological approach involved a detailed examination of the extant literature regarding the nature and extent of school violence, as well as weapon carrying and use, a detailed examination of literature regarding effective prevention approaches, and a legislative and policy scan regarding responses to weapons in schools. In addition, we examined relevant police crime data regarding weapons offences and offences against the person occurring at schools, and selected self report survey data from school-aged youth. Whilst this issue is under-researched, the research team endeavoured to integrate the available information to inform some practical steps forward for preventing weapons in schools in Queensland. We are mindful that this approach requires a delicate balance and our recommendations aim to reduce the nature of these problems, as well as their consequences.
1 We presume that the number of children admitted to hospital reflected in these figures reflects only the more serious events and will thus underestimate the true number of assaults overall. It is also possible that the proportion of assaults occurring at schools demonstrated by these figures may overestimate the true prevalence of events occurring at schools due to reporting requirements that may require victims of assault to seek medical attention.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence December 2011
Some of the important issues that arose early in our review were: • the need to distinguish between weapons carrying and weapons use; the research evidence points to wide discrepancies in the prevalence and impacts of both • the need to consider both the use and carriage of weapons in the broader context of violence at schools; the two are intrinsically linked • the strong evidence that there may be multiple opportunities to prevent and ameliorate violence and weapon use both before and after it occurs • that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is unlikely to be effective.
What is the nature and extent of the problem? Reported offences We examined two sources of Queensland Police Service (QPS) data to inform our review: • specific data relating to all offences against the person occurring at Queensland educational institutions, 2007–08 – 2009–10 • published statistical data for reported Weapons Act 1990 offences in Queensland (a) occurring at educational institutions and (b) by the age of the offender. Official offence data collected by police agencies including the Queensland Police Service are subject to a host of limitations related to counting and recording rules. However, they do provide useful information about the extent of (a) recorded violence (offences against the person) and weapon use within schools and (b) weapons offences occurring at and external to educational institutions and (c) the number of offences committed by children and young people. This information is useful for informing prevention and intervention activities.
Reported offences against the person On average, 1184 offences against the person2 were committed per year at educational institutions in Queensland between 2007–08 and 2010–11 (total n=4735). During this four year period, about 22 per cent of these offences occurred at primary schools (n=1046) and about 40 per cent occurred at secondary schools (n=1893).3 Almost 11 per cent of these offences (10.75%) involved weapons (classified as knives, rocks, chemical sprays, firearms, glass, tools, syringes, clubs, explosives and other weapons). The majority of offenders committing these offences in primary schools were males (76.9%) and the majority were aged 10–14 (60%) years (age range 10–77 years), with the modal, or most frequent age of the offenders, being 12 years. The majority of offenders committing offences in secondary schools were also males (66.4%), but a higher proportion of offenders in secondary schools were females, and the majority were aged 13–17 (88%) years (age range 10–76 years). The modal, or most frequent age of the offenders, was 14 years.
Defined as homicide, assault, sexual offences, robbery, kidnapping, extortion, stalking and other life endangering acts. The remainder were reported to have occurred in the following locations as defined by the QPS: education, library and university/TAFE.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence December 2011
Weapons Act offences In 2009–10, there were 3455 Weapons Act offences reported in Queensland.4 Of the 3107 offences for which gender was known, approximately 90 per cent were committed by males. Children aged between 10 and 16 years5 were responsible for 13.7 per cent (n=427) of all weapons offences. Including youth aged 17 years in these figures increases the number of Weapons Act offences to 18.9 per cent of all weapons offences (n=591), and rises to 23.8 per cent (n=742 offences) if 18 year olds are included. In other words, almost one-quarter of all weapons offences reported to the QPS for one year were committed by people aged 10–18 years. These data suggest that children and young people have a high likelihood to access (and sometimes use) weapons. It is also important to note, however, that these figures only reflect those individuals who have been ‘caught’: the true prevalence will undoubtedly be higher. One of the categories used for the location of Weapons Act offences is described by the QPS as ‘educational’, but this category includes Colleges, Daycare centres, Historical Schools, Libraries, Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Universities and TAFEs, so the data overestimate the number of offences actually occurring at primary and secondary schools. Unfortunately insufficient information is publicly available to cross tabulate these data with the age of the offenders so these estimates will, necessarily, be less than ideal. Nevertheless, 80 of the 3455 weapons offences reported in 2009–10 were reported to have occurred at an educational institution. This equates to about 2.32 per cent of all Weapons Act offences reported in Queensland overall. Given the breadth of this category we must assume that not all of these offences occurred within a primary or secondary school. Further, given that 13.7 per cent of all weapons offences were committed by children aged 10–16, rising to 23.8 percent if 17 and 18 year old youth are included in these figures, these data suggest that the majority of offences were not committed within schools. Together, our analysis of ‘offences against the person’ within schools and offences recorded under the Weapons Act suggest the following: • Across the state more than one thousand ‘offences against the person’ are committed in educational institutions and reported to the QPS annually. About two-thirds (62%) of these occur in primary and secondary schools. Young males aged 12–14 years are responsible for a relatively large proportion of these offences. However, only about 10 per cent of these offences involve weapons. • About 80 Weapons Act offences are reported at educational institutions in Queensland annually; fewer than this number will have occurred at primary and secondary schools. These offences represent only about 2 per cent of all weapons offences across the state. • Almost one quarter of weapons offences across the state were committed by young people aged 10–18 years. Given the disparity between this figure (~24%) and the proportion of offences occurring in schools (~2%), the data suggest that most weapons offences committed by young people do not occur at schools.
Almost two-thirds (63.8%) of these offences related to the possession and/or use of weapons/restricted items that are not firearms. Under Queensland law, children under ten years of age are not held criminally responsible, although they may be involved in the commission of an offence. Juvenile offenders are those aged between and including ten and sixteen years. Unlike some other states, a person aged 17 and older is classified as adult in Queensland.
Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence December 2011
Overall, therefore, it appears that there are a relatively large number of ‘offences against the person’ occurring in schools but — fortunately — relatively few of these offences involve weapons. On the other hand, a relatively large proportion of weapons offences are committed by children and young people across the state, but the majority of these offences did not occur at schools.
Unreported offences It is well known that official/administrative data underestimates the extent of criminal activity in the community. We therefore reviewed an extensive range of research findings in an effort to determine the extent of violence occurring within schools, assessed through more direct surveys of youth, and the extent to which children and young people carry and use weapons.
Violence The available research suggests that while Australia may experience less fatal school violence than other countries, the frequency of violence in Australian schools is at similar levels to that within some American schools, with some research suggesting Australian schools may even experience slightly more school violence than American schools (e.g. Akiba, LeTendre, Baker & Goesling, 2002). Furthermore, while school violence within American schools is decreasing, the single research finding exploring Australian school violence over time suggests that school violence, at least within Queensland schools, may be increasing. On the other hand, there is some evidence, according to police data, that ‘offences against the person’ occurring in schools may be decreasing. Although there is only a small amount of research examining school violence in Queensland, it suggests that physical violence at school is something many Queensland students are involved in. For example, in one study we examined, approximately 10 per cent of males reported threatening or forcing someone to give them things, and approximately 25 per cent of male students reported participating in group fights. While female violence is substantially lower than male violence, it is concerning to note that research looking at Grade 9 students in Brisbane over time suggests that female violence may be increasing. In 2006, for example, 10 per cent of female Brisbane students reported deliberately hurting or beating up someone, and 24 per cent of female students reported participating in a group fight.
Weapons The research suggests that the majority of youths who carry weapons do not do so at school and this is reflected in the police administrative data reported above. Nonetheless, while the exact number of students reporting weapon carrying at school varies between studies, a concerningly high number of students report having carried a weapon to school at least once (i.e. ‘ever’). Furthermore, for many of these students weapon carrying is not an isolated occurrence. For example, Hemphill’s (2007) study of Victorian students in Australia reported that 18–22 per cent of male and 3–5 per cent of female students claimed to have carried a weapon to school. Approximately equal proportions of the students who reported weapon carrying at school stated they had carried a weapon 1–2 times and 3 or more times. The evidence therefore suggests that weapon carrying at school is not a rare event. Importantly, however, the prevalence of weapon use is substantially lower than weapon carrying and this distinction needs to be made. Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence December 2011
Research suggests that — as with physical violence — males are more likely to report using a weapon than females, and that the frequency of weapon use decreases as students age. Some Australian research suggests that weapon use in Australian schools may be increasing. However, given the small number of schools included in these studies, the findings should be viewed with caution.
What causes violence and weapon use in schools? The risk factors for physical and weapon based violence are similar and a range of individual and school level factors have consistently been shown to predict both. Individual factors such as being male, having learning difficulties at school, being involved with drugs, having family problems, having poor impulse control, feeling rejected at school, or student values such as a belief in the value of obtaining social status through control, seem to be important. The school environment also appears to be influential; having unclear and inconsistent rules regarding violence, lower levels of school attachment and involvement, and poor relationships with teachers have all been shown to enhance the risk of violence within schools. The research also indicates that some students engage in physical violence, or bring a weapon to school, in response to previous violent encounters at school. The severity of a student’s violent response also seems to be in accordance with the seriousness of the experience(s) the student is responding to. For example, students seem more likely to carry a weapon to school when they have been threatened with a weapon, or miss a large number of school days due to fear, than when they report being in a fist fight. Additionally, some authors suggest that the likelihood of students responding to violence with violence is influenced by their belief in their school’s ability to ensure their safety; some students may resort to violence as a selfprotection measure when they do not feel their school is able to protect them. While risk factors have been shown to increase the risk for violence, the research literature suggests that protective factors may also help protect students from engaging in school violence, even in the presence of other risk factors. For example, some research has shown that protective factors such as having a good teacher relationship, school attachment, having a belief in moral order, or emotional control, help minimise the influence of risk factors. While very little research exists on the protective factors for weapon based violence at school, given the similarities between the weapon-based and physical school violence risk factors, it seems possible that protective factors are important for weapon based violence as well. Furthermore, given the substantially lower rate of youth violence at school compared to outside of school, it appears schools themselves may be a protective factor. A good understanding of these protective factors is vital for developing interventions aimed at reducing school violence.
Are there any gaps in the current responses to violence and weapons offences in schools in Queensland? Legislative responses Our analysis of the national legislative framework suggests that, with regards to the provisions that affect schools and children, Queensland appears to be relatively well supported by appropriate legislation to enforce the regulation of weapons both on school property and by children attending school. Nevertheless there are some aspects of the legislation in other states that may warrant consideration to enhance Queensland’s legislative capacity in this regard. For example: • Supplying weapons to children: Legislation in NSW, Victoria, WA, SA and the ACT specifically states that it is an offence to supply/sell or provide weapons to a child. In Queensland the Weapons Act only states that it is an offence to unlawfully supply another with a weapon (s. 50B(1)); it makes no specific mention of children nor does it create an offence for supplying weapons to children. Subsequently there are no consequences for specifically supplying a child with a weapon (NSW and Victoria both provide penalties for this offence). Given the relatively high prevalence of access to weapons by children in Queensland, along with the relatively high proportion of weapons offences committed by young people in Queensland demonstrated earlier, this may be an area for consideration by the government. • Right to acquire information: NSW is the only state to provide an obligation for stipulated agencies to provide information to a school for the purpose of assessing whether the enrolment of a particular student would constitute a risk to the wellbeing or safety of any student or staff member. Queensland provides a right for enrolment to be refused on the basis of a risk to safety and wellbeing, but no such right to acquire information. • Parental responsibility for children’s offences: NSW is the only state to provide parental responsibility for weapons offences committed by children. This is a contentious issue and it is our understanding that no parents have yet been charged with this offence to date. Without any evidence as to the efficacy or effectiveness of this offence so far, it is not possible to offer any further insights into this provision. It is worth noting, however, that parents in Queensland may be incriminated in respect of offences committed by their children under Section 7 of the Queensland Criminal Code, which makes it an offence for a person to enable or aid another person to commit an offence, or to counsel or procure another person to commit an offence, and that this may provide adequate coverage for this issue. • Search and seizure by school staff: Not all states provide legislative powers for search and seizure by school staff (police generally retain that capacity). Of those that do, Victoria’s provisions, contained in a recent proposed amendment, are by far the most comprehensive, followed by WA. As is the case in most states, police officers in Queensland have these powers under Parts 1 and 2 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, are trained in how to conduct such procedures and have oversight mechanisms that ensure appropriate compliance and/or provide robust Keeping Queensland Schools Safe: report from the Queensland Schools Alliance Against Violence December 2011
complaints mechanisms. In Queensland there are also confiscation powers for school staff under Part 2, Division 2 of the Education (General Provisions) Regulation 2006. However, the issue of search and seizure is a contentious one, especially for schools. It also seems logical that if school staff are to have such powers, reasonable training and compliance support measures must be considered. The safety of school staff in conducting these activities (as well as the safety of children involved) must be a primary consideration. The police are trained to protect themselves and the public, teachers are not.
Police responses Our analysis of the Queensland Weapons Act offence data indicates that many children who commit offences are appropriately subjected to the Youth Justice Act 1992 provisions which require police to consider taking alternative action to arresting the perpetrator. These include taking no action, administering a caution or referring the offender to a conference. The police data indicates that the majority of adults committing weapons offences are either given a Notice to Appear (63.3% of all adult offenders) or arrested (34.9% of all adult offenders). Juveniles, on the other hand, are most likely to be cautioned (48%) or given a Notice to Appear (29.1%). Only 16 per cent of juveniles committing weapons offences were arrested; the Youth Justice provisions thus seem to be being applied appropriately.
Policy responses As with the legislative responses, our analysis of the national school policy responses to weapons use by children in schools indicated that Queensland is relatively well supported by its policies. Nevertheless, some of the other states provide examples of best practice that may warrant inclusion in Queensland. For example: • Specific policies or statements regarding weapons in schools: Although all schools in Queensland are required to develop Responsible Behaviour Plans for Students (RBPS), and the policy provides comprehensive advice and templates on how to do so, the policy does not require a clear statement about weapons in schools. Nor does it require a clear statement about the consequences of bringing or using weapons into schools. Some of the other states do, and we believe that these policies would be worth replicating in Queensland. Responsible Behaviour Plans do empower schools to prohibit or ban certain items and outline the consequences for failing to comply with these, but it is unclear as to how consistently, or even whether, these restrictions are used by schools across the state. Examples of explicit policies re the use of weapons in schools interstate include: – the Northern Territory Code of Behaviour, which states that the possession or use of weapons in schools will not be tolerated and will likely lead to police involvement and suspension – in Western Australia, the school policy reflects the Education Regulations that require incidents involving weapons to be dealt with as a serious breach of discipline and for students should be suspended immediately – in NSW, the Suspension and Expulsion Procedures state that any student who possesses a prohibited weapon, firearm or knife is to be suspended immediately.
Given the prevalence of weapon carriage and use by children and young people, clarifying current school policies to ensure they include references to carrying and using weapons would be an important initiative. • Data collection, monitoring and evaluation: A detailed examination of incidents of weapon carrying and use at schools in Queensland ultimately requires access to official administrative data that uncovers the prevalence of such events, the related circumstances involved (e.g. the type of weapon used, any injuries, etc) and the actions taken in response to the incident. Unfortunately such information was not available to inform this research and it appears that such information is not routinely collected. Thus Queensland would seem to be poorly placed to assess and monitor its progress regarding offences committed within schools, including weapon related offences, as well as the consistency of the responses made to them. Unlike some states (e.g. Victoria, Tasmania, WA and SA), Queensland also does not appear to have any policies that require systematic data collection and/or the monitoring or evaluation of its prevention and behavioural intervention activities. Although we are aware that the department does undertake some surveys within schools, a policy that identifies and emphasises the importance of implementing, monitoring and evaluating evidence based interventions to address violence, including weapon based violence, would be beneficial. Examples of relevant policies are provided in: – Tasmania’s School Wide Positive Behaviour Support Policy, which requires all student behaviour interventions to be evaluated. It also includes a school wide evaluation tool and an effective behaviour support self assessment survey tool. – Victoria’s Engagement Policy Guidelines, which require the systematic collection and analysis of data to ensure behavioural interventions are evidence based. • Responding to and reporting critical incidents: All states had some reporting and/or response policies but the depth of these policies varies. Queensland provides specific procedures for harm caused by another student which requires the use of ‘strategies’, the notification of parents and the management of student behaviour. These strategies are not specified but it is provided that schools should have de-escalation and response procedures in place. There is no specific procedure dedicated to responding to the possession of a weapon or firearm. It is provided however, that where harm constitutes a serious criminal offence a specific form is to be used, and in cases of emergency the police must be contacted immediately and the form used as a follow up. Although Queensland’s Responsible Behaviour Plans for Students requires incident reports, debriefing reports and health and safety incident records for all emergency or critical incidents, as well as notification processes and record of contact with all parents of students involved in critical incidents involving severe problem behaviours, this information does not appear to be readily available for providing baseline and trend information regarding incidents of weapon use at schools, or for informing future policy and legislative development in this area.
Prevention activities In addressing school violence, interventions generally aim to (a) prevent the occurrence of violence and the carriage of weapons in the first place and (b) respond effectively and efficiently to weapon based violence when it occurs. In so doing, two broad outcomes are sought: safe school communities and behavioural change in individuals who perpetrate violence or pose a threat to the school community. Our review of the research literature has clearly identified which prevention and intervention activities work and which ones don’t; these are documented in the body of this report. However, this doesn’t mean that it is simple to either prevent or ameliorate violence and weapon use in schools. Rather, a comprehensive response is required, and we identified the need for both multiple strategies and targeted and needs based interventions for individual schools to address the problem. We suggest that the public health framework for prevention may be an appropriate umbrella for addressing school based violence and weapon use. The value of this framework is its capacity to incorporate multiple approaches (e.g. organisational and environmental) as well as targeting the basic and specific needs of schools and individuals. Pleasingly, we note that Queensland, as well as most other states, already couch their various policies and actions to address violence in schools in these terms. The framework provides for universal prevention activities for all students/schools (primary prevention) which essentially immunise the students so that conflict does not escalate into violence, as well as tailored interventions for individuals, groups or schools who are deemed to be at high risk of violence (secondary prevention) and targeted interventions for individuals, groups or schools that have experienced relevant events (tertiary prevention). Taken together, these practices move from proactive to reactive along a continuum. It is important to note, however, that it is difficult to disentangle the research which focuses purely on the use of weapons in schools from that which focuses on its forerunner, violence and aggression in schools. Indeed to do so, may be counterproductive. Consequently many of the interventions we reviewed and describe in this report address aggression and violence; few have targeted the use and carriage of weapons alone. We provide a comprehensive review of a wide range of activities in the body of this report. The summary provided by the (US) Consortium to Prevent School Violence (2008) is worth noting here. The Consortium identifies the effective factors for managing school violence as follows: • Universal and targeted school violence prevention programs, when well implemented. • Early intervention programs that ameliorate emerging problems in the academic and social-emotional-behavioural domains which help to reduce future problem behaviours. • School-wide behavioural expectations taught with multiple methods and reinforced consistently over time; these help more students embrace pro-academic and pro-social behaviours. • Cognitive-behavioural interventions for anger/aggression to reduce aggressive behaviours. • Structured team-based threat assessment to help schools respond thoughtfully to potential threats. • Embedded opportunities to practice newly learned behaviours (e.g. anger management) in the daily context of life at school to help students internalize these desired behaviours, displacing negative behaviours. 60
The Consortium also lists factors which are ineffective in managing school violence. Some of these are as follows: • Profiling approaches to identify potentially dangerous students don’t work and hurt innocent students. • Zero tolerance policies do very little to prevent or reduce school violence.6 • Physical security measures such as metal detectors as a stand-alone approach do not reduce overall levels of violence and disruption at schools. • Repeated suspension of students with behaviour problems does little to change antisocial behaviours and often accelerates a negative cycle of school failure and delinquency. • Primarily punitive disciplinary approaches that neither teach nor reinforce appropriate behaviour are not very effective at changing student behaviour. The Consortium also provides the following cautions with regards to school violence: • Avoid simplistic analysis and reactive responses to troubling situations that require a more thoughtful approach; avoid the temptation to take extreme measures to promote appearances of control. • Avoid excessively homogeneous grouping of students with antisocial behaviours in small intervention groups, which may result in a mutual reinforcement and escalation of antisocial attitudes and behaviours. • Avoid over reliance on exclusionary (e.g. suspension) and punitive measures, which tend to be relatively quick and easy to implement, compared to the much more challenging task of teaching and reinforcing pro-social behaviours. Our review of the research evidence endorses these findings. Overwhelmingly the evidence is that safe schools tend to integrate values such as respect into their school mission and align their school practices with these values (Gladden, 2002). The belief that teaching nonviolent behaviour is the responsibility of all school staff also helps reduce violence by increasing staff members’ commitment to model pro-social behaviour, increasing the ability of staff to intervene effectively, and heightening adults’ ownership of public spaces. Rather than a product-based concept of school safety (such as metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and guards), a safe school emphasises positive school climate and student and staff support systems (Bucher & Manning 2005). Our analysis of the police data provided to us for this report provided several other insights into the occurrence of ‘offences against the person’ in Queensland schools which may be worth acting upon (please see Chapter 4). As expected, our analysis revealed that the majority of weapons offences occurring in primary and secondary schools occur Monday to Friday.7 However, the time of day at which the offences occur is the most informative. Several things stand out: • not surprisingly, most offences occur within the regular spread of school hours • in primary schools, the peak hour for offences is 8 am (i.e. before school) • in secondary schools, the peak hour for offences is 1 pm (i.e. lunch time).
We acknowledge the importance of the need for clear messages regarding students not bringing weapons to schools. In that sense, zero tolerance messages can be desirable. At issue is the need to recognise that zero tolerance punishment responses can be counterproductive to long-term opportunities
for preventing youth violence, weapon carrying and use. 7 These data were only available for all offences against the person; we were unable to conduct these analyses on offences involving weapons only.
Gladden (2002) claims that the presence of an adult who knows students is viewed as one of the most effective ways to prevent violence (Astor et al., 1999; Noguera, 1995; Thorton et al., 2000). Astor et al. (1999) also caution that improving connections and respect among teachers and students in classrooms may not improve school safety if these relationships remain isolated in classrooms and fail to extend to the public spaces where most school violence occurs. A commitment by adults to supervise students throughout the school as well as in their own classroom is required. When combined with the research evidence presented above, these results suggest that greater supervision of public spaces within schools during the studentsâ€™ free or transitory time by teachers who have created strong and positive relationships with students in the classrooms would be likely to reduce some of these conflicts. Enlisting the assistance of trained bystanders (students, other staff) may also assist in changing school cultures toward more violence resistance. Overwhelmingly, the data also indicate that weapon carriage and use by young people is more problematic in the community than it is in schools. There would, therefore, seem to be a need to address the broader community context for weapons carriage and use by young people.
Recommendations Our recommendations are informed by (a) what we have learned about the prevalence, nature and causes of weapon based violence in schools in Queensland; (b) the demonstrated effectiveness of various strategies that have been used to deal with weapon based violence in schools nationally and internationally; and (c) the gaps we have identified in Queensland laws and school policies that frame the current response to weapons in schools.
Recommendation 1 To obtain high quality and accurate information about weapons and weapon related incidents, and young peopleâ€™s experience of violence, weapons and victimisation in order to inform effective policies and practice, the Queensland Government support the development of a regular community based household survey of youth to explore attitudes and experiences related to violence, victimisation and weapon related experiences in schools and the community.
Recommendation 2 To obtain high quality and accurate information about weapons and weapon related incidents to inform effective policies and practice, the Queensland Government work with schooling sectors to identify ways to monitor existing data collection processes, and options for improving information about weapon related incidents at Queensland schools.
Recommendation 3 That the three schooling sectors encourage all Queensland schools to: • use evidence based violence prevention and bystander intervention programs and strategies which foster positive school cultures to make them more resilient to violence • implement and evaluate violence prevention programs, including a series of bystander intervention program pilots.
Recommendation 4 That the Queensland Government investigates amending Queensland legislation to: • create an obligation similar to Part 5A of the Education Act 1900 (NSW), which enables schools to obtain information from specified agencies about a young person that has engaged in violent behaviour, for the purpose of assessing whether the enrolment of the young person would constitute a risk to the wellbeing or safety of any student or staff member, or to develop and maintain strategies to minimise risk • bring Queensland into line with other Australian jurisdictions, and make it clear that it is an offence to unlawfully supply weapons, including knives, to a child.
Recommendation 5 That all Queensland schools: • incorporate specific statements about using and carrying weapons in schools, including the consequences for doing so, into all relevant policies and procedures • develop and implement effective communication strategies to ensure that all students, parents and staff members are aware that carrying and using weapons in schools are inappropriate and potentially unlawful, and that there are consequences for doing so.
Recommendation 6 That the Queensland Youth Violence Taskforce examines the efficacy and effectiveness of community based prevention and intervention efforts for reducing the carriage and use of weapons by young people in the community, and develops recommendations for addressing this problem.
Sample parent information template November 2011
Appendix 6: Templates for schools about knives
Templates for schools about knives
WORKING TOGETHER TO KEEP [Insert school name] SAFE We can work together to keep knives out of school. At [Insert school name]: • Every student has the right to feel safe and be safe at school. • No knives are allowed to be taken to school by students. • There is no reason for a student to have a knife at school, and it is against the law for a student to have a knife at school. If a student has a knife a school, they can expect serious consequences, such as fines and possibly jail. Longer jail sentences can be given to young people if someone is injured with a knife during an assault.
What kinds of knife are banned? • No knives of any type are allowed at school, including flick knives, ballistic knives, sheath knives, push daggers, trench knives, butterfly knives, star knives, butter knives, fruit knives or craft knives, or any item that can be used as a weapon, for example a chisel. • Knives needed for school activities will be provided by the school, and the use of them will be supervised by school staff. • In circumstances where students are required to have their own knives or sharp tools for particular subjects or vocational courses, the school will provide information about the procedures for carrying and storing these items at school. [Insert appropriate person such as principal] can take tough action against a student who brings a knife to school. • If a student has a knife at school, principals can inform the police. • Possessing a knife at school may result in serious disciplinary consequences [Schools are to consider including examples of disciplinary consequences]. • Police can search a student and their property at school if they suspect a student has a knife. • A student may be charged with a criminal offence and may face serious consequences if convicted, including a fine or jail. [The points below apply to Education Queensland schools. Non-state schools need to consider if any of these points may also apply to their school] • School property such as desks or lockers may be searched if the principal suspects that a student has a knife on or in school property. • If the principal suspects the student has a knife in their bag, the bag may be temporarily confiscated until police arrive. • If the student does have a knife at school, it can be confiscated by the principal and given to the police.
How can parents help to keep [Insert school name] safe? • • • •
Make sure your child knows what the laws and rules are about knives. Do not include knives or knife tools in children’s lunch boxes, pencil cases or craft kits. Contact your school principal if you believe your child is being bullied or threatened at school. If you want to talk about students and knives at school, please contact [Insert appropriate contact].
WORKING TOGETHER TO KEEP [Insert school name] SAFE We can work together to keep knives out of school. At [Insert school name]: • • • • •
Every student has the right to feel safe and be safe at school. There is no reason for a student to have a knife at school. No knives are allowed to be taken to school by students. It is against the law for a student to have a knife at school. A student that has a knife at school can receive very serious consequences.
What kinds of knife are banned? You are not allowed to have any type of knife at school including: • flick knives, ballistic knives, sheath knives, push daggers, trench knives, butterfly knives, star knives, butter knives, fruit knives or craft knives • any item that can be used as a weapon, for example, a chisel. If you need a knife or tools for school subjects, school staff will provide them and supervise their use.
What will happen if I bring a knife to school? • If you have a knife at school, the principal may call the police. • Police can search you and your property at school if they think you have a knife. • If you have a knife at school, you may be disciplined [Consider including examples of disciplinary measures from relevant school policy or procedure where appropriate. For example, suspension] • You may be charged with a criminal offence and face serious consequences if convicted, including a fine or jail. [The points below apply to Education Queensland schools. Non-state schools need to consider if any of these points may also apply to their school] • School property such as desks or lockers can be searched if the principal suspects that you have a knife on or in school property. • If the principal thinks you have a knife in your bag, the bag can be confiscated until police arrive. • If you have a knife at school, it can be confiscated by the principal and given to the police. • You may face serious disciplinary consequences if you bring a knife to school.
How can I help to keep [Insert school name] safe? • • • •
Make sure you know the laws and rules about knives. Ask your parents not to put knives or knife tools in your lunch box, pencil case or craft kit. Contact your teacher if you are being bullied or threatened at school. Immediately tell a teacher or adult if you think someone has a knife at school, or if they say they will bring a knife to school. • Immediately tell a teacher if a student is threatening anyone with an object that could injure them.