Your Bully Has A Name: Relational Aggression in NSW Schools
This post draws from my current and ongoing research into the use of AI to facilitate whole of system healing from abuse within government and non-government systems via the Kindness in Life and Law Principle.
The following is an extract from the draft of my new book: Your Bully Has A Name: Relational Aggression @school & @play.
Relational aggression is a form of bullying that involves the use of social power to harm someone’s relationships or social status.
It can take many forms, including verbal abuse, social exclusion, and spreading rumors or gossip.
Relational aggression can have a significant impact on a student’s social and emotional well-being and can lead to long-term negative consequences.
This post will explore what relational aggression looks like in NSW primary schools. It looks specifically at student-to-student, teacher-to-student, and parent-to-parent aggression.
It will also talk to specific actions that a P&C can take to identify, manage, and remedy relational aggression at a school whose motto is ‘respect, responsibility, and personal best.’
Student-to-Student Relational Aggression
Student-to-student relational aggression is a common form of bullying in NSW primary schools. It can take many forms, including spreading rumors or gossip, social exclusion, and verbal abuse.
Students may use social media or other digital platforms to engage in relational aggression, which can make it challenging for schools to identify and address.
To address student-to-student relational aggression, schools can implement policies and programs that promote positive relationships and address bullying behaviors.
Schools can also provide social and emotional learning opportunities for students to build empathy, respect, and responsibility. Teachers can encourage positive behavior in the classroom and intervene when they observe bullying behaviors.
Teacher-to-Student Relational Aggression
Teacher-to-student relational aggression is a form of bullying that can have a significant impact on a student’s well-being and academic performance.
It can take many forms, including verbal abuse, exclusion, and humiliation. In NSW primary schools, where teachers may have a greater influence on the school culture and social dynamics, it is crucial to address teacher-to-student relational aggression effectively.
To address teacher-to-student relational aggression, schools can implement restorative practices, including peer mediation, circles, and conferences.
These practices promote dialogue, understanding, and empathy among teachers and students involved in relational aggression incidents.
Schools can also create clear policies and procedures for addressing incidents of aggression, including reporting mechanisms for students or parents to report incidents.
Parent-to-Parent Relational Aggression
Parent-to-parent relational aggression can occur in the form of bullying, harassment, or exclusion.
It can have a significant impact on a student’s well-being and academic performance, as well as the school culture and climate.
Parent-to-parent relational aggression can also make it difficult for schools to foster a collaborative and supportive learning environment.
To address parent-to-parent relational aggression, schools can provide opportunities for parent education and support, including workshops and resources on positive parenting and conflict resolution.
Schools can also encourage open communication and collaboration among parents, teachers, and administrators.
As well as, create clear policies and procedures for addressing incidents of aggression, including reporting mechanisms for parents or caregivers to report incidents.
Specific Actions a P&C Can Take to Address Relational Aggression
As a P&C, there are specific actions that can be taken to address relational aggression in NSW primary schools, including:
- Promote a culture of respect: Encourage a school culture that promotes respect, empathy, and responsibility. Encourage positive behavior and discourage bullying behaviors in the school community.
- Educate parents: Provide resources and education opportunities for parents to learn about positive parenting and conflict resolution. Encourage parents to be supportive and collaborative in their interactions with other parents, teachers, and administrators.
- Advocate for policies and programs: Advocate for policies and programs that address bullying behaviors and promote positive relationships in the school community. Encourage the implementation of restorative practices and social and emotional learning opportunities for students.
- Encourage open communication: Encourage open communication and collaboration among parents, teachers, and administrators. Encourage the use of reporting mechanisms to report incidents of aggression, and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of these mechanisms.
- Provide support for students: Advocate for counselling services, peer support groups, or other interventions to support students who have been affected by relational aggression. Ensure that all students feel safe, supported, and included in the school community.
- Monitor progress: Monitor the effectiveness of policies and programs implemented to address relational aggression, and adjust the approach as needed. Regular evaluation and feedback can help to ensure that the P&C’s efforts are meeting the needs of the school community.
Relational aggression is a significant issue in NSW primary schools that can have a negative impact on students’ social and emotional well-being and academic performance.
P&Cs can take specific actions to address relational aggression, including promoting a culture of respect, educating parents, advocating for policies and programs, encouraging open communication, providing support for students, and monitoring progress.
By working together as a school community, we can create a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes positive relationships and emotional well-being for all members of the school community.
The Principal’s Role
As a school leader, the principal plays a critical role in addressing teacher-to-student relational aggression.
To effectively address this issue, the principal can start by creating a clear policy and protocol for addressing teacher-to-student aggression.
This includes establishing reporting mechanisms and ensuring that all staff members are aware of the policy and its implications.
The principal can also provide professional development opportunities for teachers to learn about the impacts of relational aggression on students and strategies for managing challenging behaviors in the classroom.
Additionally, the principal can conduct regular evaluations of teacher-student interactions and provide feedback and coaching to teachers as needed.
By prioritising the well-being of students and creating a culture of respect and empathy, the principal can foster a safe and supportive learning environment for all members of the school community.
Furthermore, the principal can also implement restorative practices such as peer mediation, circles, and conferences to address teacher-to-student relational aggression.
These practices promote dialogue, understanding, and empathy among teachers and students involved in relational aggression incidents.
They also encourage accountability while providing opportunities for learning and growth.
Additionally, the principal can work to create a positive school culture that promotes respect, inclusivity, and collaboration.
This can involve initiatives such as school-wide campaigns against bullying, social and emotional learning programs, and opportunities for students and staff to engage in community service and volunteer work.
By creating a positive school culture, the principal can help to prevent relational aggression and foster healthy relationships among all members of the school community.
Teacher-to-student relational aggression is a serious issue in schools that can have significant negative impacts on students’ social and emotional well-being and academic performance.
The principal plays a critical role in addressing this issue and can take specific actions such as creating a clear policy, providing professional development opportunities, implementing restorative practices, and creating a positive school culture to address teacher-to-student relational aggression effectively.
By working together as a school community to promote empathy, respect, and responsibility, we can create a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes positive relationships and emotional well-being for all members of the school community.
Combating the Bully You Now Know as RA
It’s worth noting that addressing relational aggression requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses various strategies and interventions, including promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, cultivating empathy and compassion through social and emotional learning, adopting restorative practices, and fostering collaboration among educators, parents, community organisations, and students.
Moreover, it’s crucial to involve the broader school community, including parents and caregivers, in the process of addressing relational aggression.
This collaborative approach can foster a sense of shared responsibility and support for promoting positive behavior and well-being among all students.
In smaller primary schools with less than 150 students, the principal can work closely with the P&C to implement strategies and interventions that address relational aggression effectively.
The P&C can provide support and resources for students who have been affected by relational aggression, advocate for policies and programs that promote positive relationships, and encourage open communication and collaboration among parents, teachers, and administrators.
Addressing relational aggression in NSW primary schools requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach that involves all members of the school community.
The principal plays a crucial role in addressing teacher-to-student relational aggression by creating a clear policy, providing professional development opportunities, implementing restorative practices, and creating a positive school culture.
By working together as a school community, we can create a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes positive relationships and emotional well-being for all students.
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