Every child has a right to be safe from victimisation, violence and abuse at school. ‘It is a fundamental democratic right for a child to feel safe in school and to be spared the oppression and repeated, intentional humiliation implied in bullying.’ (Dan Olweus 2001)
Bullying is when a student (or group) with more power repeatedly and intentionally uses words or actions against another student that cause distress and create a risk to their wellbeing. Bullying can be physical, verbal, emotional or social and can be carried out in person, through manipulation or electronically. (Helen McGrath, The National Safe Schools Framework Best Practice Grants Programme Final Report 2006)
What does the Better Buddies Framework do?
When people have the skills and values to engage in positive, respectful, inclusive relationships with one another, bullying is reduced, learning is enhanced and students and teachers alike experience their school as a more pleasurable environment in which to be. The framework aims to:
- Reduce incidences of bullying.
- Promote children’s sense of belonging and the school as a safe, happy and secure environment.
- Provide a focus for the children’s transition into primary school.
- Provide a support network for children.
- Connect parents.
- Develop a sense of community within and beyond the school.
- Help children develop social skills and build self confidence.
- Create a pro-social atmosphere in the playground where the students look out for and take care of one another.
- Demonstrate to older students that they are valued and contributing members of the school community.
- Help children develop the resilience needed to cope with hardship, disappointment and loss.
How does Better Buddies work?
Students have formal weekly structured time with a teacher/s present and less formal, unstructured contact in the playground at break times. In addition, throughout the year, school’s are encouraged to participate in four special events: Better Buddies Week, Better Buddies Games, Better Buddies Book Week and Better Buddies Picnic.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation has developed a Better Buddies Framework resource kit including a set of engaging activities for teachers to use in their classrooms. A special training package for students who will be senior buddies is also included. The Better Buddies Framework focuses on the social situations in which bullying occurs and addresses this by encouraging children to form positive and supportive relationships with one another.
Introducing Buddy Bear
A unique aspect of the Better Buddies Framework is its mascot, Buddy Bear. Buddy Bear is a purple teddy bear who conveys Alannah Mikac’s message – ‘I’m special because I care about others’. Buddy symbolically supports children’s transition and orientation to school and enhances cross-age buddy systems, giving them special focus and meaning.
Buddy Bear embodies the values of the framework: caring for others, friendliness, respect, empathy, responsibility, including others and accepting difference In Western cultures, teddy bears are still a powerful symbol of childhood and familiar playmates for most Australian children. Teddy bears represent feelings of being safe and have equal appeal to both girls and boys.
For further information about The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s Better Buddies Framework call (03) 9697 0666 or email email@example.com.