Kia ora e te whanau
It is great to see so many of our students back at school, wearing their uniform correctly and following the wearing of masks expectation. We do not feel that we are ready to make mask wearing optional yet. There is still a long tail of Covid cases in the south and we are hearing from schools that have lifted the mask mandate that Covid cases are rising again. More than anything we really want to avoid any further rostering of year levels home, school closures and most of all sick students and staff members. Even if we have already had Covid, I am sure we all have family members and friends who may be immune compromised who we want to keep safe. Our case numbers are getting very low, and we are hopeful that we can be back in whole school assemblies and gatherings soon.
It was lovely to be able to celebrate the Academic Blues recipients yesterday in person at the Blessed Sacrament Church. These achievements have placed our students as top academic leaders within the region and well above the Government’s measures of student success in NCEA and University Entrance. These achievements and experiences in and of themselves are special and deserved today’s accolades. We are very appreciative of the work and encouragement that you as parents put into these students to bring them along with us on this journey.
Next Friday is Pink Shirt Day in NZ schools and we encourage our students all to wear something pink to school that day just not hair dye or nail polish please. This will be a free mufti day to raise awareness of anti-bullying in our society. No school is immune to bullying and we take it very seriously when students are experiencing any form of bullying. At this week’s assembly I talked about cyber bullying in particular. Our young people spend a lot of time on phones, tablets, social media sites and messaging apps, so they are more likely to come across it. A survey in 2020 found that seven out of ten children aged 10 to 15 years who experienced online bullying said that it was by someone from their school. Nearly the same number were emotionally affected by the online bullying behaviour that they experienced.
Just because the bullying is taking place online does not make it any less harmful. Cyberbullying can have devastating and sometimes long-lasting effects on the person involved. It is important to know the signs so that we can put a stop to it. Anyone who makes threats to us on the internet could be committing a criminal offence. In NZ, it’s against the law to use the phone or the internet to cause alarm or distress to others. If we post abuse online about anyone or send threats, our internet provider has records of our activity. The police can require internet providers to share this information. Cyberbullying can have a massive impact. It can cause a range of emotions and feelings, including embarrassment, worry, loneliness, hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed. As soon as a message has been sent, it cannot be taken back, so it is important to consider the effect that our message or post could have on others. Cyberbullying often starts behind a keyboard, which may lead the bully to think that they are untraceable, giving them further confidence to post abusive comments.
When cyberbullying continues, it can feel relentless. It may result in victims not wanting to come to school or go about their usual activities. They may withdraw from friends and family, and sometimes, their feelings can even lead to self-harm and suicide. The most important thing is not to ignore or hide what is going on. Otherwise, the bullying may escalate. If students are being bullied, whether it is happening online or in person, they must tell an adult whom they can trust. This could be a parent, a member of school staff or a helpline advisor. There are actions available to put a stop to bullying; we do not have to put up with it. Most social media sites have a button for reporting abuse; making a report can result in the perpetrator being blocked or deleted from the site anonymously. We can also block anyone on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram so that they cannot message us again. It is a good idea to take a screenshot of any abusive messages to use as evidence.
We wish Mrs Kate McGowan all the best as she goes on maternity leave and we know her year 7 homeroom class will be in capable hands with Mrs Liza Wilson coming back to teach this class until the end of the year. We will be re-advertising the Learning Support Coordinator role later in this term.