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March 2011
 
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Front row formed against bullying

Waikato police have launched a partnership with the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise to reduce bullying in the region’s schools.

Constable Lance Smith, from Youth Education Services in the Melville Community Policing team, says the Kia Kaha anti-bullying programme came about after contact from the Chiefs’ management.

“The Chiefs were looking to get involved with a worthwhile community-based project that 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 programme that doesn’t just target students but involves the kids, teachers and even boards of trustees, working to establish safe emotional and physical environments in our schools.

Chiefs props Nathan White (left) and Ben May team up with Sergeant Scott Miller, Hamilton Youth Aid Section Supervisor, to make schools safe.
Photo: Andrew McAlley

“With buy in from the Chiefs, the programme has enhanced mana and credibility with children who might initially be nervous about discussing issues around bullying,” Lance says.

The Chiefs’ Professional Development Manager, Judy Clement says the players are passionate about the opportunity to support children, particularly youth at risk.

The team will be involved throughout the Chiefs’ Super Rugby campaign and split into eight groups. Each group will attach themselves to a youth education officer and visit two schools a month.

Chiefs’ player Mike Delany says the players didn’t realise the extent to which bullying was taking place in schools. “Many of our players have kids of their own, so can really relate to the issue. We’re right behind helping to make schools a happy and safe environment,” he says.

Lance says police ran seminars to prepare players for dealing with children disclosing difficult matters to 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.”

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