Stand up to the bullies

Creating A Safe Supportive Environment

Schoolyard bullying is a topic that is often taboo within schools, yet the consequences of unresolved bullying can be dire. Indeed, bullying and the results of such behaviour make headlines all too often. Bullying is a problem that tends to begin in the school yard, and then continue on through life. It is a problem that touches all areas of society, and is of relevance and importance to every parent.

By addressing bullying in schools, we can equip today’s students with the skills to stand up to bullying in schools now… and to recognise and prevent bullying in the wider community when they become adults.

CASSE, which stands for Creating A Safe Supportive Environment, is a new organisation dedicated to using psychoanalytic approaches to reducing bullying and violence. In adopting psychoanalytic principles, CASSE’s approach is different from most anti-bullying programs which focus on the problem behaviour, such as bullying, and suggest ways to respond to it.

CASSE’s proactive and preventative approach aims to build resilience in communities and equip them to respond creatively to traumatic situations, conflicts and other issues which, if unresolved, could lead to bullying and violence. The aim is to highlight the importance of mentalisation (reflection) and understanding the dynamics of bullying, in particular the role of the bystander.

CASSE works to reduce bullying and violence in schools

CASSE is currently working with selected Victorian schools to implement this approach as part of a pilot program. In the school environment, the CASSE approach focuses on teaching school communities (staff, students, parents and community leaders) about the power dynamics of the victimiser (bully), victim and bystander. Student teams of ‘natural leaders’ (and those who have the potential to be natural leaders) are established and teachers are given assistance to train these students to become ‘Upstanders’ – to stand up to bullies and respond thoughtfully to conflict instead of retaliating – rather than bystanders. ‘Natural leaders’ tend to be quiet achievers who are empathetic and altruistic. They have the ability to reflect and think about others, and other people tend to follow their lead. CASSE’s approach revolves around the involvement of the entire school community.

Following are some tips from the CASSE website about how to be an ‘Upstander’, or someone who stands up to bullies:

  • Show self control
  • Don’t swear
  • Tell others how you feel and explain your thoughts
  • Be respectful
  • Says something positive to your friends and to others every day
  • Never put others down
  • Be truthful
  • Be polite
  • Don’t interrupt others, instead listen to them
  • Be courageous
  • Keep your voice soft and be gentle
  • Be loyal
  • Be friendly, smile and greet others politely
  • Have good manners and be honourable



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