New ABC show confronts bullying

Bullying can take boys to the edge, gripped by emotional scars that parents may not be able to see.

It can have devastating consequences, when children or teens feel they have limited ability to get passed the continuous, unrelenting pressure and abuse being bullied may entail.

There has been a number of positive anti-bullying programs take shape over recent years, paving the way for kids to “look out” for one another and take on the mantra “bullying, no way!”

Former Olympian and world champion swimmer Ian Thorpe has taken to Australian television in his own effort to confront bullying among students in Queensland schools.

Thorpe says he was bullied by some of his teachers when he returned to his south west Sydney school as a world champion at his chosen sport at age 15 – leaving him feeling unsure of himself and his goals.

The Olympic gold medallist has teamed up with ABC TV to produce the Bully Project, focusing on Queensland teens aged 14-18 years who are experiencing bullying; aiming to stop the harassment and embarrassment bullying has on their lives.

The Bully Project is confronting to watch at times, arming victims with hidden cameras to highlight what these young people are enduring on a daily basis at the hands of their bully/bullies.

One student featured dropped out of his schooling before appearing on the program, too scared to face his bullies and their constant ridicule.

However, with the help of intervention by support staff and a psychologist, the boy was looking forward to returning to school again, with the support of his family and friends – both of whom were initially unaware of how bad the bullying was.

The ABC production has partnered with ReachOut Australia – a mental health service – to assist those featured and audience members to access help, advice and support in regard to bullying issues.

With the most recent Australian statistics showing one in four young people are bullied on a regular basis, the most effected those in Year 5 (10-11 years) followed by Year 8 students (13-14 years), the Bully Project may be another avenue providing an initial step for victims to voice their struggles with bullying to parents, family members or friends (according to the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study).

Children and adolescents are often very successful at hiding the shameful and debilitating effects bullying has on them.

The covert way in which some bullies inflict pain can make it very difficult for parents to realise what is happening to their child.

Most victims just want the bullying to stop without drawing much or any attention to the fact it is happening. The Raising Children Network offers parents some signs to look out for if they think their child is being bullied;

– Refusing to go to school or making excuses to get out of school
– Being unhappy, angry or anxious before or after school
– Becoming isolated from others – friends and family members, sporting groups etc
– Having unexplained injuries
– Starting to not to care about school or perform to the best of their ability
– Coming home from school with damaged or missing belongings
– Having trouble sleeping
– Regularly complaining of stress-related ailments – headaches, stomach aches etc
– Seeming low in self-esteem and confidence

The Bully Project airs on the ABC Tuesdays at 8.30pm or anytime on iView.

Young people can turn to ReachOut.com from anywhere at any time for free self-help tools, information, and a peer support forum.

National 24/7 crisis phone support is also available from Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.