Violence is a community issue that affects people of different ages and occurs in various situations.
Whether it happens in someone’s home, school, workplace, sporting field or in a public space, it is not acceptable and community members want it to stop. Finding solutions is challenging so a collective effort is needed to address this community issue.
School communities play an important role. Together, school staff, students and their families can teach children and young people about appropriate behaviour, provide opportunities for them to examine and challenge social norms, and provide learning environments that promote positive and respectful relationships.
No Voice to Violence
Education Minister Sue Ellery has launched the next stage of the action plan against violence in schools with a confronting campaign highlighting the impact of school-yard violence.
We know from consulting with young people, parents, principals and school staff, that ending violence is a common desire. We also understand this desire does not translate into action because the perceived costs of getting involved are high for individuals.
The ‘No Voice to Violence’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the implications of watching, sharing and liking fight videos and encourages young people to change their online behaviour. It also encourages parents to talk about the issue with their children and support their children's positive online behaviour.
More information about the campaign and resources is also available.
- Respectful relationships
- Positive Parenting Programs
- Addressing violence in schools
- Violence online
- Legal implications of fighting
- Working with the community
In all Western Australian schools, students learn about respectful relationships as part of the curriculum. They learn what behaviour is and is not appropriate; how to build respectful, reciprocal relationships; and how they can respond to, or challenge, disrespectful attitudes and behaviours.
Sadly, violence in the home is a reality for some students with one in four children exposed to domestic violence. This means it is important for teachers to also teach about respectful relationships in the context of family and domestic violence prevention, and for schools to take a whole school approach to this issue and promoting gender equality.
Support is being provided to school staff through the WA Respectful Relationships Teaching Support Program to develop their knowledge, skills, confidence and community partnerships to teach age appropriate content about gender equality and know how to respond safely and appropriately to any students disclosing they have witnessed or been subject to family and domestic violence. The program also guides schools in developing practices that promote gender equality and reflect community expectations regarding family violence.
Free access to the Triple P - Positive Parenting Program has been made available for parents at Kindergartens across Western Australia.
This program gives parents strategies to develop healthy relationships with their children, manage their behaviour and prevent problems developing.
Find out more about the Triple P program.
Parents with teenagers are able to access Triple P – Teen courses in various locations across Western Australia.
There are a range of courses to help parents develop the skills to promote positive and respectful relationships, manage behaviour problems and support their children during their teenage years.
Find out more about Teen Triple P programs.
Schools should be safe, nurturing environments where children can learn and grow. School staff work with their communities to foster and maintain a culture of positive behaviour, respect and unity, and address any incidents of violence.
Unfortunately, there are a few students who intentionally harm or intimidate other students and/or staff members. They are in the minority, but their actions can have a significant impact on those targeted and others in their school community.
The following measures are in place to assist schools staff to respond to situations where students are intentionally violent:
- automatic suspension of students who intentionally attack or instigate a fight with another student or film a fight between students
- automatic move to exclude students who intentionally harm school staff
- alternative learning settings for identified excluded students and/or the most violent students where they will be provided with an intensive, individualised program of support to effect positive and lasting change in their behaviour
- advice, training and support for school staff in relation to responding to aggressive behaviour and identifying what actions are appropriate and reasonable
- changes to schools’ behaviour policies to ensure students are accountable for their behaviour.
Support is available for families who are concerned for their child’s safety.
We live in an age where people use the internet and social media to enhance their lives. They use it to seek information, express themselves, be entertained, and interact with their friends and family.
There are a lot of benefits associated with using the internet, but young people may come across online content that is offensive or violent.
Young people can be exposed to violence online through video games, movies, fight videos and the media. This can be distressing and confronting. Exposure to violence online can also influence their attitude to violence and make violent behaviour seem normal.
Of particular concern is when young people film, watch, share and/or like violence between students. Often, they do not understand the implications of their behaviour and how it can promote more violence.
They may not realise their actions can:
- add to the pain and embarrassment of those who have been hurt
- provide an audience for those involved in the fight
- make fighting seem normal
- encourage more fights
- cause other students to feel unsafe at school
- harm the reputation of those schools with students involved in fights.
Speaking with your children about this issue helps raise their awareness. You can encourage them to empathise with those involved, consider the impact and imagine how they might feel if it was their friend being hurt. You can promote respectful relationships and discuss how they can resolve conflict without using violence.
You can also talk to them about the legal consequences of fighting, filming and/or sharing. It is against the law to create, keep, share or ask for material that shows a young person under the age of 18 being subject to torture, cruelty or physical abuse. It is also against the law to help or encourage someone else to participate in a fight.
They should also be aware that students are suspended if they film or share fight videos. This is Department of Education policy.
You can also suggest alternative ways to respond when they see fights online. Instead of watching, sharing or liking the fights, they could:
- scroll past the video
- report the post as inappropriate on Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms (this will reduce the number of fights shown)
- encourage their friends to send them different types of videos
- let their friends know it’s illegal to film, share and keep videos of young people fighting.
Your support and encouragement can help them make positive choices when they are online.
For more information about navigating the digital world, visit the e-Safety website. Information about the legal consequences of filming young people fighting is available on the Legal Aid WA website.
Children under the age of 18 can still get in trouble with the law for being involved in a fight. This includes fighting someone, or for helping or encouraging someone to fight another person. The punishment will depend on how serious the charge is, if there is a criminal record, and other personal circumstances.
A child can get in trouble with the law if they:
- organise a fight.
- prevent the victim from getting away or from leaving the assault.
- shout out words of encouragement. For example: yell out words like “go on, hit them”.
- film a young person fighting.
- post or share a video of a young person in a fight on social media.
- keep a video of a fight involving a young person that was sent to you, whether you asked for the footage or not, or
- ask someone to send you a video of a fight involving a young person.
Read One punch can change a life for information on the laws about fighting.
Schools are an integral part of the community. School staff actively work with their school communities and wider communities to provide support for their students and families, find solutions to issues and create opportunities to enhance students’ education and wellbeing.
Our Communication Protocols outline a shared responsibility and clear expectations for the roles of staff, parents/carers and students in communications, interactions and working together.
When dealing with violence, school staff seek support from parents, community leaders and local organisations to prevent and manage aggressive behaviour and promote a culture of respect, unity and positive behaviour in their schools.
Parents and the community working together with the school is the best way to reduce violence from occurring.
Contact your local school to find out what they are doing to address aggression and promote positive behaviour, and how you can support them.