Herald Sun Article – Bullying at the Gate

By Susie O’Brien

VICTORIAN mums are receiving counselling to help them cope with bullying, intimidation and even threats of violence from other mothers at their kids’ schools.

Schools have turned to counsellors and psychologists to help ease the tensions among mothers in the schoolyard.

Oscar Yildiz, CEO of Bully Zero Australia Foundation, said his organization was receiving calls from mums being bullied by other mothers.

“I had one mother ring me and tell me she wanted to ‘punch the daylights out’ of another mother,” he said.

“It’s hard when they are trying to resolve bullying issues between their children and frustrations can boil over,” Mr Yildiz said.

Debbie Rossi, author of the new book Beyond the Schoolyard: End the Bullying Forever, has given talks about surviving in the schoolyard to mothers in Greensborough, Glen Waverley, Frankston, Doncaster and Berwick.

“Some of the mums tell me they avoid getting out of the car because they don’t want to see other mums,” she said.

“Others spend a lot of time getting ready for school drop off and pickup to pass the test at the school gate.

“They feel judged by what they wear and what car they drive, and how their children behave,” Ms Rossi said.

Ms Rossi, a mother of four school-aged children, said mothers who were bullied at school themselves often felt more vulnerable.

“Some mums can sometimes feel like they are the ones starting a new school, and they worry that they won’t fit in and their kids will suffer,” Ms Rossi said.

Gabrielle Leigh, President of the Victorian Principal’s Association, welcomed counseling for mothers to help them cope with other mothers. “It can get emotional at times,” she said.

The Department of Education has released a “Statement of Values for Safer Schools” encouraging parents to “treat other members of the school community with respect”.

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