Original Source: The Australian
Victorian education officials have conceded there is a lack of hard evidence on the rates of homophobic bullying in schools to justify the state government’s decision to mandate the contentious Safe School program.
Responding to questions on notice after a recent parliamentary hearing, the state’s Department of Education and Training revealed this week that it could not provide a statistical breakdown of bullying cases by cause, such as race, gender, physical appearance, disability, faith or sexual preference.
The admission comes as the Andrews Labor government has committed to spending more than $2 million rolling out the Safe Schools program, developed by La Trobe University academics but now run by the department, to all public secondary schools.
The program, which provides information, professional training and sex education resources to help schools deal with homophobia, has been widely criticised for being about promoting sexual and gender diversity, as its previous manager Roz Ward once claimed, rather than stamping out bullying.
“Instances of bullying are often recorded by schools. However, the root causes and reasons for bullying behaviour are often complex and may not be easily identifiable,” was the department’s response to the public accounts and estimates hearing held in February.
“In many instances children and young people involved in bullying are not able to clearly articulate the reason for their behaviour, therefore making reporting on the root causes for bullying behaviour unreliable.”