November 2021 and we continue to address the issues and concerns around bullying. We are all very aware that the experience of being bullied can have an immediate and lasting impact on children’s mental health. Whilst an annual event such as Anti-Bullying Week provides an opportunity to highlight the issues and to spread awareness about bullying, we need our schools and colleges to be proactive in their anti-bullying position throughout the year. A focus such as this empowers our settings to unite against bullying and to address the impact it has on all.
The idea behind “one kind word” came from a desire to advocate how kindness can halt and counteract hurtful behaviour. The chosen theme aims to demonstrate how even the smallest of actions can break the bullying cycle.
But what is bullying?
It’s important that everyone has a shared understanding of what bullying is. The Anti-Bullying Alliance states that:
Bullying has a significant effect on children and young people’s mental health, emotional well-being and identity. Sadly, a cycle of bullying is also evident – where young people who have mental health issues are more likely to be bullied and those who have suffered bullying are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues.
Bullying is experienced by all regardless of gender, faith, race or background
The ONS report (2018) learned that 17% of young people had been bullied in the past year. The amount of young people reporting being bullied was higher in the younger age groups: 22% of 10-year-olds said they had been bullied, compared with 8% of 15-year-olds. In supporting our young people to build the skills needed to work towards developing healthy relationships which are fundamental to well-being and addressing the issues of bullying, it is important for our educational settings to:
- embed your anti bullying message in a “Culture of Care” approach in your school / college.
- ensure that their learners feel able to raise concerns, discuss bullying and its impact on their emotional well-being.
- be aware that bullying can be an expression of difficulties or distress, and that the bully needs support just as the victim does.
- respond effectively to any report of bullying because it can have a considerable impact on children and young people’s mental health, emotional well-being and identity.
- support their staff and train them in the skills needed to understand the different types of bullying and the impact these may have on mental health and wellbeing
- to help the school community to develop effective listening skills – we should not undervalue the significance of active listening when reacting to statements of bullying.
- explicitly teach “about different types of bullying (including cyberbullying), the impact of bullying, responsibilities of bystanders (primarily reporting bullying to an adult) and how to get help” (taken from the England RSHE Curriculum)
- raise awareness of the link between bullying and peer-on-peer abuse for all community members.
- agree to implement a firm but non-judgmental and non-shaming approach to addressing bullying behaviours – and ensuring that the child or young person is ‘seen’ separately from the behaviour
So, this anti-bullying week - apart from wearing your odd socks – use it as a springboard for demonstrating how even the smallest of actions can break the bullying cycle.
What small action will your school do? Choose one and share it via social media and we look forward to seeing the impact of change.
Let's focus our thinking on anti-bullying and work together to support children’s mental health and wellbeing
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