A top Melbourne private school has been criticised for publishing advice that bullied students need to “stop playing the victim”.
Brighton Grammar has come under fire for a blog post titled Bullying: Helping your son be the victor, not the victim on its website.
The post was written by Melissa Anderson, a counsellor and “resilience coach”, to promote her free seminar for parents at the school.
Anderson is the director of the Shine Academy for Girls and the Longford & Fraser Leadership Academy for Boys.
“As a resilience coach I am adamant that, in any bullying situation, you must own your part of the problem, no matter how small, no matter how unfair it may seem,” she wrote.
In the interest of “cleaning up your side of the street”, she asked parents to ask themselves if their child is “part of the problem? Even 5 per cent? Is he a whinger, a complainer, self-absorbed, an exaggerator, loose with the truth, a passive doormat, displaying negative body language, an approval addict, a try hard, critical or a bad sport?”
Anderson acknowledged that children might be the target of “cruel taunts” because they have “buck teeth, acne, a disability or a lisp”, but added that a boy could own a “small part” of his problem by “learning to stand up for himself, developing grit, steely self-belief, strong self-esteem, choosing his friends wisely and reminding himself that the bullies are dealing with their own demons and that the problem lies principally with them and not him”.
Anderson concluded by noting that she was bullied for most of high school, and was only able to stop the bullying by “owning” her part of the problem.
“Time to own your part, and stop playing the victim,” she wrote.
“Be the victor, not the victim.”
Since the post went viral on Monday, the school’s Facebook page has been inundated with angry comments.
“Well, this is why bully victims commit suicide,” wrote Miranda Griggs.
“As a parent of a bullied child and a counsellor your message is way off,” wrote Erin Johnston. “There is a vast difference between teaching resilience and victim blaming.”
“How on earth a professional can advise that those who are bullied are playing the victim is beyond me,” wrote Jan Tully. “If that is what you proudly teach boys then I can see why so many lives have been scarred forever in private schools.”
Some, however, have come out in defence of the school, including Brighton Grammar parent and beyondblue ambassador Margie Warrell.
No irony lost on how many bullies have come out of woodwork to bully Brighton Grammar. They exhibit the very behaviour they rail against.
— Margie Warrell (@margiewarrell) May 16, 2016
The school’s headmaster Ross Featherston, has responded to criticism of the post with a statement on the school’s website.
“Bullying is an extremely sensitive issue and we understand that,” he wrote.
“As a result of publishing Melissa’s article, it is clear we may have caused upset and distress to some people. We unreservedly apologise for that.
“Out of respect for people who may have been victims of bullying, and in particular for those who were upset by Melissa’s article, we have made the decision to cancel her presentation tomorrow night at our school and will have further discussions with her about today’s response to her views.”
The offending post remains available on the school’s website.
Do you think the article was irresponsible? How do you think parents, children and schools should deal with bullies? Have your say in the comments below!