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Holy Week and Bullying

A Weekly Update from Graham Leddie, Deputy Head of College

Holy Week

Living Holy Week following Jesus means learning how to come out of ourselves to reach others, to go to the outskirts of existence, to be the first to move towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most distant, those who are most in need of understanding, consolation and help.

“There is so much need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love”
-Pope Francis.

Boys were encouraged to keep these words in their mind and reflect in the light of the College’s celebration last week of the National Action Day against Bullying and Violence.

Some students need to let go of the need to bring other boys down and to open their hearts and minds to what Pope Francis is challenging us to do – to move closer to our fellow brothers and sisters. Students were also encouraged to make a final donation to the lenten appeal (Project Compassion) that helps end poverty and promotes justice for the world’s poor.

Bullying and Violence

This week we have had an intensive focus during our home group time on bullying. We have looked at strategies and case studies to try and educate our students on the truths and costs around bullying.

To work and learn in a Catholic community like Waverley, we all must adhere to some basic principles, and accepting bullying is not one of them. We will certainly try hard to work with students who make poor choices in this area, with counselling, consequences and learning opportunities. If these do not result in the necessary changes, then a student’s continued enrolment at the College will come into question.

The College has the same approach with violence. There is no place for it at Waverley.

To throw a punch at another person’s head, neck, chest or spine is simply to gamble with their life. Students can never know if a person has a medical condition which makes them particularly vulnerable – the target themselves may not know. One punch can kill. The message is simple – do not throw punches here at Waverley or anywhere else. The College will take action and so will the police.

The College posted our commitment to standing together against bullying and violence on the College’s Facebook page last Friday. Over 20,000 people connected with this stance which tells that the issue is very important to our community.

Prayers with Belgium

The following was shared in Home Group time with the boys to allay some fears:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Brussels who suffered a terrorist attack earlier this week. Experts say that other attacks are most probable, but the likelihood of being caught up in a terror attack is still remote: far more Londoners have been killed riding bikes in the city than in terror attacks over the past 15 years.

But with the threat hovering, how do we cope? What is the psychological impact? Should we change our behaviour? How do we live in the shadow of terrorism?

Psychological impact

Some experts are concerned that the attacks – and the threat of more to come – will make people feel vulnerable and start making decisions based on fear.

“When something dramatic happens, such as the attacks in Paris, Belgium and Sydney, something called the ‘availability heuristic’ kicks in,” says Dr David Purves, a London based psychologist specialising in trauma and post traumatic stress.

The Paris and Belgium bombings have brought heightened awareness, which can elevate feelings of risk. “People who have a tendency to worry, they are able to ask themselves the questions: could it happen here, what if it happened to me or somebody I care for, how would I feel, could I cope?

“These are questions that don’t have answers and the fact they don’t have answers tends to make people anxious and dwell on them more, going over and over them again. And this makes people feel more at risk.”

Traumatisation makes people feel more vulnerable. “It makes you feel it is more likely to happen. And it is being replayed over and over in the media.

“People become a bit more watchful and wary. They start to make decisions based upon fear; shall I go on the train station, or take the bus; shall I get a taxi; shall I even go out? Making a decision based on fear reinforces that anxiety.”

Experts say that continuing to live a normal life is one of the best things people can do after a terrorist attack. “One of the many aims of terrorists with an attack is to provoke a disruption of that society. When somebody plants a bomb in Paris or shoots someone on a Tunisian beach, if people say ‘I’m not going to go to Paris or Tunisia’, it makes future terrorism a more attractive method.

Society needs to make that decision to live as normally as possible, it makes the likelihood of terrorism succeeding more remote.

Don’t turn on each other

One of the aims of a terrorist attack like the one on Paris and Belgium, is to sow discord in society particularly between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Research shows that after a global incident like the Paris attacks, there is a rise in harassment of Muslims in western countries.

“Scapegoating Muslim communities for these incomprehensible acts of extremism simply fuels more hatred, more hostility and more suffering. Rather than allowing terrorism to polarise, we should instead use these atrocities to remind ourselves of the shared sense of humanity that unites people living in diverse societies,” says Professor Neil Chakraborti, director of the Leicester Centre for Hate Studies.

Public figures such as Australian television presenter Waleed Aly, who penned, “you will not have my hatred”, have urged people not to let Isis win by causing hatred.

Report suspicious behaviour

According to experts, in the last 15 years many planned terrorist attacks have been foiled because members of the public gave information to police about people acting strangely. Behaviour people should report includes people buying ingredients that might be used in bomb-making, and the radical transformation of someone’s political views in ways that lead you to believe they might be drawn to violence.

Know what to do in the event of an attack

Like Waverley’s lockdown policy, “run and hide” is the advice given by the UK national counter-terrorism security office (NACTSO) rather than “play dead” – “escape if you can, insist others leave with you and leave belongings behind – silence phones and when safe, ring emergency services”.

“People understandably have an anxiety, but terrible as these attacks are, we have to keep them in proportion. Statistically you’re overwhelmingly safe from terrorism, remembering that enables us to have a proportionate response.”

Uniform – Transition to Winter

It has started to get colder this week and boys have started to wear an array of tops to fend off the cold. In Term 2 we officially move to the College’s winter uniform with blazer and ties mandatory. If boys are cold the College jumper or blazer are the only acceptable items they can wear at school and to and from school. Hoodies, sports jackets, spray jackets are not acceptable. Raincoats can be worn to and from school and we encourage boys to use an umbrella on wet days. Please support the College policy on uniform. It does make a difference to how they present, feel and act.

I wish every member of our community a happy Easter.