YNOT Submission to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute Issues Paper on Bullying

Date: Wed, 23/12/2015

The Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT) is the peak body for the youth sector and young people aged 12 – 25 in Tasmania. YNOT conducts research and facilitates consultations to develop policy positions on issues that are significant for young people, so as to inform advocacy work on their behalf. YNOT welcomes this opportunity to provide a submission to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) in response to the issues discussed in the Bullying Issues Paper.

Through Tasmanian Youth Forum consultations with young people in Tasmania, the issue of bullying, including cyberbullying, has regularly been flagged as a priority issue impacting upon their wellbeing. YNOT has already produced a number of submissions that relate to this issue. These include the Review of the Education Act (YNOT: 2014) (Appendix 1), Cyberbullying and Tasmanian Young People (YNOT: 2014) (Appendix 2), Personal Searches of Young People: In Custody and in Custodial Premises (YNOT: 2103) (Appendix 3), Statewide Forum on Study and Stress Communiqué (YNOT: 2012) (Appendix 4).

YNOT understands the difficulty in defining bullying within a legal context, as comprehensively discussed within the TLRI Bullying Issues Paper. We also recognise the complexity of the nature of bullying in relation to young people, as perceptions of what constitutes bullying can be distorted, misinterpreted or even go unidentified. Complications increase when it is understood that around 20% of bullied children have been identified as bully-victims, that is, they have both bullied students and have been bullied and can act in provocative ways towards their attackers (Rigby: 2015).

Within this submission, YNOT presents the position that in many cases, the circumstances surrounding the behaviour of young people who engage in bullying is embedded in a complex array of social, behavioural, emotional and psychological contexts. YNOT supports a response towards bullying that is based within a restorative justice and human rights framework. As a result, YNOT advocates approaches to dealing with bullying among young people that understand the potential short and long-term impacts that can result from engaging in bullying behaviour, and work towards reducing these.