There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it. – Amanda Gorman

Danebank Girls are Bravehearts
This term I have been speaking with the girls (in year groups and also in assemblies) about raising one another up for success, and spurring one another on towards acts of kindness and service. We shared what this looks like for us at Danebank.

We have focused on how Danebank Girls are Bravehearts.
In our first weeks, I spoke about welcoming each other into our Danebank family, drawing connections with welcoming people into our personal family home. We had a good laugh guessing various teachers’ own family traditions and learnt that some staff traditions were:

A family member dressing up as Santa on Christmas Day every year

Every year going on a camping holiday with the children

A recorded message played every morning to everyone in the house saying “Good Morning”

A family member shouts “all aboard” at the train station every time they are catching a train

On family holidays all the family wear the same type of shirt e.g. Hawaiian shirt

We discussed key Danebank traditions and expectations, namely, wearing our uniform with pride, courtesy and kindness… and eating our yummy Founder’s Day cake!

On another occasion, I spoke about two remarkable women in the Bible – Ruth and Naomi – and how they are an example of women who wanted the very best for each other. We were encouraged that, despite their circumstances, they both took a courageous stand to ensure that they set each other up to flourish.

We remembered and were inspired by courageous young women such as Malala and Christabel Pankhurst, who chose to be brave and so became women of influence, changing the world.

I have spoken about bravery and what this means for Danebank girls and young women. Taking advantage of the lead-up to today’s National Day of Action Against Bullying, I visited year groups from Years 7-12 to proactively discuss our safe and supportive learning environment.

An Australian Report (2016) regarding bullies by Professor Ken Rigby and Dr Kaye Johnson of the University of South Australia found that, overall, 15% of Australian students reported being bullied in the past twelve months. This bullying took the form of being made fun of or teased in a mean and hurtful way (26.3%); being ignored or not allowed to join in (19.5%); being hit or pushed around (14.9%); being made afraid of being hurt (12.2%); having cruel things said online (12.2%); being victimised because of their race (10.5%); receiving harassing texts or emails (8.9%); and sexual harassment (3.8%).

In the study, girls were more likely to report being ignored, teased and made fun of, having rumours spread about them, sent harassing texts, and having cruel things said about them online, while boys more often reported being kicked or pushed, and being harassed racially or sexually. Experiences of bullying were more prevalent among students with disabilities and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds (Rigby & Johnson, 2016, pp. 8-29).

Along with data regarding students’ experiences of bullying, data was also collected regarding effective strategies for schools to ensure a safe and secure learning environment is maintained for all students. The report affirmed our Danebank practice and the importance of all school members being familiar with the anti-bullying policy, paying particular attention to students who are most vulnerable to being bullied and ongoing professional learning for staff.

With each Year Group I was able to encourage our girls with how proud I am that our community of young women are such bravehearts, not bullies, nor bystanders. I shared that each person, girl and young woman is worthy of dignity and assured our girls that each of them is greatly loved.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

We took the opportunity to pro-actively remind each girl about how there is no tolerance for meanness, intimidation, harassment, discrimination or bullying at Danebank. I encouraged each one to let a trusted adult at Danebank know if there are any concerns so these can be addressed quickly, and reminded them of how the school responds on the very rare occasions at Danebank where something may go wrong. We remembered our Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Matthew 7:12

We’ve also spoken about how being a braveheart applies to us each day, whether in the classroom, on the sports field or at home. Brave women take risks, embrace challenges, persist during setbacks and believe that with more effort, they can master tasks.

Being brave may mean failure, but Danebank is a safe place to fall and, as bravehearts, we use these experiences to learn and draw on coping strategies to grow. Being brave is a response to thoughts in our head or the struggles we face when tackling any challenging learning experience.

Finally, we considered how being a braveheart also applies to the really, really big questions about the meaning of life. It takes courage to seek answers to these questions, to reflect upon what Jesus has done for us and to respond to His message of salvation. Rigby, K., & Johnson, K. (2016). The prevalence and effectiveness of anti-bullying strategies employed in Australian schools. Adelaide: University of South Australia. Retrieved from: https://www.unisa.edu.au/Education-Arts-and-Social-Sciences/school-of-education/News-andEvents/News/the-prevalence-and-effectiveness