Violence in the school yard is becoming more prolific with the incidents becoming more serious and increasingly involving weapons of some kind.

New figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed an 8% increase in assaults occurring at schools during 2009, compared to 2008. During 2009 134 of the general assaults occurring on school grounds involved a weapon.

More alarming is the fact that these incidents are being committed by younger and younger children. Scuffles are no longer the domain of teenagers in the high school yard, the violence is now becoming wide spread in primary schools and fists are being replaced with weapons.

Dr Don Weatherburn of the Bureau feels that assaults are more likely to occur when schools don’t have a clear anti-bullying policy.

He said”school violence is something that there’s no acceptable level of. It’s crucial everybody does their bit to reduce the chance of a child carrying a weapon to school that could lead to a fatal attack.”

Violence in our schools – the facts*
134 use of weapons
68 sexual assaults
265 acts of indecent assault
8,022 incidents of property damage
*Figures from NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, October 2008 – September 2009

A website called Bullying. No Way!  has been set up and is managed by all State, Territory and Commonwealth government education departments, together with Catholic and independent education sectors. It also has the support of students, staff, parents, agencies, education officers and community members from schools around the country.

The aim of the website is to give advice and support to parents and teachers so learning environments can be created where every student and school community member is safe, supported, respected and valued. It hopes to create a schoolyards and classrooms that are free from bullying, violence, harassment and discrimination.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manoocha.