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Preventing bullying in ECEC – where do we start?

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Have you or a colleague experienced workplace bullying? Do you know how to identify it and what to do if it happens? How would you react if you came across a situation where a young child in your care was being bullied?

Unfortunately, the ‘caring’ nature of our industry does not mean that it’s immune to situations of bullying, and it can happen to people at any level, even management. For young children, early childhood services can play a vital role in preventing bullying behaviours from developing.

Workplace bullying is a major issue, with nearly half of Australian employees having experienced some workplace bullying during their lives (BeyondBlue). It can be overwhelming to know where to start when faced with this issue. Friday 20 March is the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, so this week Amplify investigates resources to help prevent bullying – of both adults and children in our sector.


Preventing workplace bullying for adults

Have you ever felt or seen repeated unreasonable behavior directed at you or others at work, that affected people’s mental or physical health? That’s workplace bullying.

Especially if it included any of these:

  • Abusive or offensive language or comments
  • Aggressive and intimidating behaviour
  • Belittling or humiliating comments
  • Practical jokes or initiation
  • Unjustified criticism or complaints

According to Safe Work Australia, there are ways that organisations can minimize the risk of bullying in the workplace. They list these as:

  • Talk with staff to find out if bullying is occurring or if there are factors likely to increase the risk of workplace bullying.
  • Develop a code of conduct or workplace bullying policy.
  • Implement workplace bullying reporting and response procedures.
  • Clearly define jobs and provide staff with the resources, information and training they need to carry out their work safely.
  • Develop productive and respectful workplace relationships through good management practices and effective communication.
  • Provide information and training on workplace bullying policies and procedures, available support and assistance, and how to prevent and respond to workplace bullying.
  • Prioritise measures that foster and protect the psychological health of employees.

If you experience bullying at work, Safe Work Australia advises:

  • Check if your service has a bullying policy and reporting procedure. It should outline how your organisation will prevent and respond to workplace bullying.
  • If you feel safe to do so, calmly tell the other person that you object to their behaviour and ask them to stop it. They may not realise the effect their behaviour is having on you or others, and your feedback may give them the opportunity to change their actions.
  • Seek advice from another person, for example a supervisor or manager, human resources officer or health and safety representative to help you work out if the behaviour you have been experiencing is workplace bullying, as early as possible.

Stamping out bullying often starts at the top

Beyond Blue research indicates that wider environmental factors including poor organisational culture and a lack of leadership are often the main drivers of workplace bullying.

Stamping out bullying could mean taking a look at the entire organisation from the top down and ensuring that there is a ‘strong, consistent approach to prevent inappropriate behaviour from escalating, and a positive, respectful work culture where bullying is not tolerated’ (HeadsUp).

Putting a stop to bullying among children

Bullying No Way – early childhood resources

Young children are still learning how to get along with each other, share and understand their feelings, and educators are ideally placed to provide guidance to help them develop healthy and respectful relationships.

The Bullying No Way site includes information and resources about children’s social and emotional development at different ages and a specially designed app – The Allen Adventure – that educators can download which offers a starting point to talk with children aged 3 to 8 years about important social and emotional skills.

Children can learn to develop healthy and respectful relationships while interacting with other children at early childhood centres.

 

For the national day of action you can also download an Information Kit (mostly aimed at schools) and materials including posters, logos and info for parents.

Eyes on Bullying in Early Childhood

As young children enter early childhood settings, they bring with them a history of experiences with family, media, and other children. These experiences prepare children to be more or less likely to engage in bullying-related behaviour.

A comprehensive set of online resources developed for early childhood educators by the US Education Development Center examines thirteen aspects of how to understand, prevent and intervene in bullying behaviour.

Download the full guide – Eyes on Bullying in Early Childhood

Start Early

This set of three online learning modules offered through Early Childhood Australia’s Learning Hub – Start Early. Respectful relationships for life – examines how everyday behaviours and attitudes shape a child’s lifelong relationships.

Developed to provide insights for educators, the modules contribute 3 hours of NESA Registered PD, and after completing them educators will understand that:

  • Educators play an important role in nurturing respectful relationships between children, families and the community
  • Supporting children to participate in respectful relationships is important for their wellbeing
  • The pedagogy of listening is an important tool to support respectful relationships with children and families.

References


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