Schoolgirls in vicious brawl: Why did teachers do nothing?

 

OPINION

If a vicious brawl between female students, captured on a phone and uploaded to social media, goes against the values of the girls' school, then why are teachers seen doing nothing?

Bystanders only enable bad behaviour, and teachers have a duty of care to protect kids from harm.

Calamvale Community College, in Brisbane's south, is an independent public school of more than 2400 students, so running it can't be easy, but it would appear its stated ethos of "respect, responsibility, resilience and initiative" is receiving lip service.

On Wednesday principal Lisa Starmer said the video of the fight "does not reflect the strong values that are the hallmark" of the Prep to Year 12 school.

Then on Thursday, in a letter to parents, Ms Starmer said she would personally be ensuring every student was "made fully aware" of the school's anti-bullying stance and behaviour guidelines, and that staff were "fully aware of their obligations and capable of responding appropriately".

Why should it take a violent incident for this to happen?

It's bad enough that teenage girls as young as 12 are laying into each other, and that someone is filming it for notoriety on social media, but when teachers are seen approaching the fracas and evidently doing stuff-all as the fighting continues, you have to wonder why.

The father of one of the girls says his daughter is a victim of bullying.

He says it's been going on for some time, but on this occasion his daughter "held her ground well".

 

Brawl at Calamvale Community College
Brawl at Calamvale Community College

 

I'm not sure that's something a parent should be proud of, but the bigger question here is why did staff not break up the brawl?

They are the adults, the supposed leaders in this situation, and the behaviour you ignore is the behaviour you accept.

What does their lack of intervention say to the students who were egging on the fight, and to others subsequently watching it on social media? Keep going because authorities won't act? Violence is tolerated, normalised even?

It is hardly surprising teachers across Queensland's public schools are being assaulted, left, right and centre, by little upstarts.

Physical attacks on teachers have soared in the past five years, according to damning Department of Education figures revealed this week.

Kicking, punching, biting have become co-curricular activities.

The misconduct has resulted in an increase in suspensions, which telling kids to stay home does little to address the problem.

Violence should not be tolerated, in any form, in any school.

Queensland barrister Clem van der Weegen, a former state school teacher and police officer, reckons there is a "hands off" culture in modern education.

He's written an academic paper on it, and says teachers are confused.

If they step in, can they be potentially prosecuted criminally or sued civilly for touching kids?

 

Calamvale Community College
Calamvale Community College

 

Mr van der Weegen says risk management approaches by school administrations to unlawful events, including inappropriate sexual contact between teachers and students, have discouraged and inhibited any use of lawful force, including minimal touching, by teachers for the safety and management of students.

Be that as it may, when a school publicly stands for accountability for actions, then teachers should not be confused in the slightest about how to regulate unruly kids.

Calamvale Community College elaborates on its four core values on its website.

Respect is valuing ourselves, others and the diversity of our world.

Responsibility is being accountable for one's actions and contributing through service to the college and community.

Resilience is identifying opportunities with a readiness to respond with innovation to achieve a positive outcome.

And initiative is having courage to overcome challenges by building positive connections with self and others.

Where was the initiative shown by teachers during the video of Tuesday's ugly brawl?

Mission statements are meaningless unless they translate - and are seen to translate - into action.

Kylie Lang is an associate editor of The Courier-Mail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Schoolgirls in vicious brawl: Why did teachers do nothing?


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