Sunday, 14 October 2012

'Bullying is NOT OK - NO WAY!'

"There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want, and that they can grow up in peace.’ ~ Kofi Annan
 IMAGE: KESTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs PICTURE: Paul Pearson

Have you ever been bullied?

Bullying is nothing new - it has certainly been going on for as long as I can remember.

My first experience of this type of behaviour was back in the ‘olden days’ when, as a 10 year old, I became what is known as an ‘immigrant’.

My family (Mum, Dad, three sisters, brother, and I) had farewelled all of our family, friends and neighbours in Ireland and England, and set sail for our new life in Australia, where Dad was to take up a teaching post as Head of English Department in a country high school.

Migrants were still rather a novelty in country NSW in those days, and certain students in my new school saw my minority status as an open invitation to tease, ridicule, and humiliate the ‘new kid on the block’.

They repeatedly mimicked my accent, made fun of my English clothing and whatever Mum had put in my lunchbox for the day. I began to hate going to school.

It was a very lonely, distressing, and unhappy time (until they got to know me and we became friends) and to this day, I still cringe, whenever I recall the time that the nun on duty at playtime, rang the bell to command the other children to include me in their games!


Bullying then, is nothing new, however, what IS new is the frequency with which we are hearing about this behaviour, and the alarming rate at which it appears to be escalating, in our schools and wider society.

Bullying occurs in many different forms - from verbal, emotional, and racist bullying, to psychological, physical, and  the now, all-too-prevalent, modern day phenomenon, cyber bullying – but one thing is for certain, whatever form it takes, it is NEVER OK!


Mahatma Gandhi once stated that ‘If we want to create lasting peace, we must begin with the children.’

There is great wisdom in this, and education is KEY. 

Parents, schools and wider communities have major roles to play in helping to achieve this. We do it by:
  • Creating and promoting peaceful, safe, and secure environments for children
  • Modelling positive behaviours built on mutual respect, trust, and empathy
  • Setting very clear behaviour expectations and guidelines
  • Helping children to understand and take responsibility for their own behaviour and consequences of their own actions
  • Providing children with coping strategies for dealing with distressing behaviours, if and when they arise.

Looking back with adult eyes, I’m sure the behaviour of that handful of students from my school stemmed more from a lack of understanding than from any conscious malice on their part.

This belief prompted me to tackle the issue of bullying head-on, in  a way that would make it easy for children to understand - the non-threatening medium of song.

Drawing on my childhood and teaching experiences, I set about writing lyrics to address various types of bullying behaviours, including the ever-increasing cyber bullying - with an emphasis on the right of every child to feel safe and protected.

My colleague, Kathryn (Radloff) worked her usual magic with the music, and the result is 'BULLY-FREE ZONE!' - a whole school positive behaviours approach to addressing unacceptable behaviours in primary schools. 

We are very grateful for the support of a wonderful local primary school principal, Mrs Terri Paterson who, together with the parent body, graciously allowed us to work with and record some of their children on the song’s chorus:
Bullying is not OK - NO WAY! It’s never a solution, 

Deal with problems as they rise with conflict resolution. 

Caring isn’t optional, it’s what we all expect; 

Everyone is welcome here, but bullying we reject! 

©Lyrics, Nuala O’Hanlon/Music, Kathryn Radloff. 
All rights reserved.

 IMAGE: Facebook: Live Well Laugh Often Love Always

We are very proud of the students, who have now taken ownership of the message, some even going
as far as writing to a local newspaper to urge other schools to become bully-free zones! 

This is the video we recorded on the day – I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in Singing To Learn,



·      My Radio 2UE interview


·      Bullying In Their Words by
·      It’s My School Too - Empowering Bystanders by Cornerstore Media Oz


·      Details (Including Suggested Activities…)
·      Song sample

‘Bullying is a problem borne of dysfunction whereby the perpetrator and the victim are caught in a negative cycle of fear and control. We, as caretakers and educators have a duty to interrupt this cycle and facilitate change through early education and intervention. This song, 'BULLY-FREE ZONE!' addresses the issues in a positive, child-friendly way. It not only provides strategies to help empower the victim, but also raises awareness and accountability in the perpetrator.’ ~ Eileen Condell, 

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