Students of Airds High School, Campbelltown, held a protest against bullying today following a brawl on Monday which left three students injured, including one with a broken nose, and resulted in two suspensions. Only 12 students attended the protest today after teachers threatened to punish those who participated. Similar protests were held in Mullumbimby last week following the death of a student in a similar brawl.

Students described the bullying culture at the school as ‘vicious’, stating that bullies were not racially motivated, instead target anyone they thought they could get to. “There are always people getting hurt in the playground,” one student said. One mother described how she feared for the safety of her son, who was regularly bullied by students two years older then him.

The protests come after a recent report by the Federal Government found that New South Wales is the worst state in Australia for bullying. The survey of over 7,000 children found that almost a third had been bullied.

Dr Ken Rigby, who is reviewing Queensland’s approach to bullying, says that suspensions are not an effective tactic to reduce bullying as they drive bullying underground and make bullies ‘sneakier’, causing them to bully in ways that are much harder to prevent and monitor. Dr Rigby instead recommends mediation between students and discussion between teachers and bullies in an attempt to get to the underlying cause of the bullying.

Writer Tristan Boyd, Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.