Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 6:50am |
National News

Chiefs combine with Waikato Police to kick bullying into touch

3 min read

News article photos, audio and videos (3 items)

22 February 2011

Kia Kaha and Chiefs Join Forces

With so much coverage of bullying in schools the public could be forgiven for believing nothing is being done to tackle the problem but behind the scenes a new initiative is underway to kick bullies into touch.

Under the Kia Kaha anti-bullying programme Waikato Police have launched a partnership with the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise in an initiative to reduce bullying in the region's schools.

Youth Education Services, Constable Lance Smith, of the Melville Community Policing Team, said the partnership came about after contact from the Chiefs' Management.

"The Chiefs were looking for a worthwhile community based project to become involved with which would have a positive impact at the grass roots level and what better place to start than with kids in schools?”

"Kia Kaha is a whole school program that doesn't just target students but involves everyone from the kids, teachers and even the Boards of Trustees, working to establish safe emotional and physical environments in our schools."
Mr Smith said with buy in from the Chiefs the program now had enhanced mana and credibility with children who might initially be nervous about discussing issues around bullying.
The person driving the Chiefs' involvement with Kia Kaha, Professional Development Manager Judy Clement, said from the player's perspective they are passionate about the opportunity to support children and particularly youth at risk and she knows this will be extremely beneficial to the rugby players as well.

"Kia Kaha's anti-bullying message means a lot to the Chiefs team members and they are proud to work with the police in this area and look forward to joining them in visits to local schools to assist in delivering the programme.”
"The team will be involved throughout the Chief's Super Rugby campaign and split into eight groups; each group will attach themselves to a youth education officer and visit two schools per month."
Mr Smith said while the players' involvement would bring huge benefits in promoting the program it wasn't without risks and to mitigate these the players had undergone training prior to the visits beginning.
"One of the key things we all needed to appreciate is that because of who they are the kids will automatically warm to them and that has some risks in that how to players react to matters that may be disclosed to them and how do they deal with issues that may make them uncomfortable?"
"To address these issues seminars were run by police with the players addressing how to deal with situations where children disclose matters and how the players should deal with them? Like any group of young men there was a lot of joking around at the start but very quickly they appreciated just how serious an issue this is which is a credit to them."

Players' comments

Dwayne Sweeney; “Speaking for me, personally, I was lucky growing up in a great family atmosphere in a small town but I did see bullying at school and was sometimes at the worst end of it so its good to be able to give something back to the community as a rugby player, working with kids in the schools.”
“The Kia Kaha program is a good fit for where our team is at right now and this program has a good family feel to it so it’s a chance for us to give something back to the community that supports us. Going forward the boys see this is something we can really make a difference with and we're looking forward to it.”

Mike Delany; “We don't realize as players bullying is occurring in our schools and many of our players have kids of their own so they can really relate to this issue so we're right behind helping to make schools a happy and safe environment to be in.”

Nathan White; “I think having our own kids our involvement in Kia Kaha will not only help the kids in the schools we're visiting but also provide skills to help my own kids, guiding them through any problems that might occur and we can develop these skills and learn from them.”

Ben May: “Seeing the damage this type of thing can do the boys are right behind the initiative and we look forward to meeting as many of the kids as possible and spreading the anti-bullying message.”

Related downloads

JPG - 29KB
JPG - 51KB
JPG - 52KB