Bullying and violence: Changing an act of disconnectedness into an act of kindness

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Pastoral Care in Education, ISSN: 0264-3944, Vol: 30, Issue: 2, Page: 165-180

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de Souza, Marian; McLean, Karen Joy
Informa UK Limited
Social Sciences; Psychology; Curriculum and Instruction
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In this article, the authors examine contemporary pluralistic, technologically-driven societies where human spirituality, in terms of human experiences of connectedness, is eroded and overwhelmed by high levels of cultural and religious diversity and hi-tech devices. Without connectedness, empathy and compassion become missing elements resulting in conditions that are conducive to bullying. Not surprisingly, there have been many anti-bullying programmes introduced into schools in Australia and elsewhere in the past couple of decades. Within this context, one individual's response to the London bombings in 2007 was to approach two primary schools and invite them to participate in a programme she devised: 'The Act of Kindness'. This programme, while it began as an individual Australian's response, fit well into the values-based education agenda that was current at the time since it incorporated many of the nine values identified by the Federal Government. Three years later, there were more than 40 schools participating in the programme. At that point, the authors conducted a research study to examine the effectiveness of The Act of Kindness programme in changing a school's culture as well as raising awareness of Other. The findings are presented in this paper and the authors identify appropriate links to and implications for the issues related to difference, bullying and violence. © 2012 Copyright NAPCE.