Bullying within communities of humans is such a hard challenge to tackle and too often it goes undetected or worse, ignored. Fortunately, at Charlton we have developed through our pastoral programs and workplace practices a strong culture that builds and rebuilds relationships when things may go wrong.

We do not tolerate bullying or intimidation and such a stance, although confronting, is vital in keeping Charlton as a safe and caring College.

However, students and parents can misinterpret what is normal interaction between young people who are growing up and finding their way in the world. A once-off push or verbal taunt in the playground is not bullying, but a passing incident that is generally not detrimental to resilient children.

However, should such behaviour against an individual become repeated or continues to make that person feel uncomfortable then a line has been crossed and such intimidation must be addressed quickly and effectively.

In addressing such behaviours, it is usual to investigate fully and to speak with all parties concerned. To not do so would lack natural justice and risks being seen as biased toward one or other of those involved. This can be confronting to a student or his/her parents who do not wish their child to speak up against bullying behaviour.

Unfortunately, neither staff nor parents can help a child navigate these issues unless people have the courage to speak out against such negative behaviour. This is why we are careful to support all parties involved when there is an allegation of bullying. The truth of the matter can be difficult to discern.

The truth can also hurt. On many occasions, an investigation into a bullying allegation can reveal that both parties may have contributed to the situation, perhaps each in a different way. For example, harassing another person with verbal taunts and then alleging bullying when that person reacts against them is too often the true scenario. Bullying will never be tolerated at Charlton, but we must also accept the fact that our young people are developing in the way they relate to each other and how they navigate their relationships. We also need to accept responsibility for anything they may have done in contributing to the problem. There are, of course, two sides to every story and it comes in the form of claim and counter-claim. Although difficult and time consuming to unravel, it must be done and people must speak up if we are to keep our College a safe and caring environment.

Mr Mark Ash / Principal