Bullying has been proven to have a significant influence on the poor mental health of our children. Research shows a strong connection between being bullied and suicide. With young person suicide rates on the rise, something needs to be done.
This week allows us to raise much needed awareness for a subject that is still so common in the UK with bullying increasing at least 25% in the last 12 months (according to the Annual Bullying Survey 2020).
In order to gain a better understanding of bullying, we invited a young student with State and Grammar school experience to comment on her first hand experiences and recommendations.
“Having been a victim of bullying myself, and having witnessed bullying constantly throughout both my primary and secondary education, I believe what goes on is far worse than what most adults think.
The student [bully’s] get worse and worse each year, each doing far worse to try and “be better” than the year above. Bullying these days is mainly done to try and impress others, and there’s a culture in schools that encourages bullying and shames individuality.
Starting from primary school, I have witnessed social exclusion, verbal bullying, rumours, intimidation, threats, and physical assault. Then, as I got a bit older, going into secondary school, the cyber bullying, manipulation and sexual assault started to come in, as well as the other forms.
I’ve been a victim of nearly every kind of bullying, and I believe this is the case for most students.
I’ve also witnessed the effects of bullying. For the majority, they will suffer through a very hard school life for several years. But for the minority, who have been exposed to more persistent bullying, it will scar them for years to come, into their adulthood. They will have long term psychological effects, self-esteem issues, and mental health issues. These issues do not stop at those who have been bullied, they also extend to the bullies.
I know two people who committed suicide whilst in education.
I know that bullying has a wider impact, such as the affect on academic performance. Bullying also has some responsibility for the worsening drug culture in schools.
Not enough is done within schools and other organisations to counteract the bullying that takes place.
When you tell a teacher what is happening, they usually try to talk to the parents of the bully. However, a lot of the children who bully come from dysfunctional families, and the children may adopt behavioural patterns from their families. Instead, I think bullies need counselling and support from teachers to work through their problems and help them to regulate their emotions.
I also think teachers need to stop the encouragement of bullying from other students, as this plays a massive role in giving bullies a motive. I also think teachers need to be more forceful in isolating students who are struggling to move them away from the bullies.”
Safe-guarding.co is very grateful to this young student for bravely sharing experiences and recommendations for this blog.
Schools and the law
By law, all state (not private) schools must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. This policy is decided by the school. All teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is.
Since bullying can happen anywhere, it is important that wherever you work or learn, you ask about the anti-bullying practices and ensure that people have policies in place that allow for safe reporting and whistleblowing.
There are many charities which offer help and support to victims of bullying such as the Anti-Bullying Alliance and Childline. Here is an interactive anti-bullying information tool for parents and carers by Anti-Bullying Alliance >
The Anti-Bullying Alliance actively promotes restorative practice within schools and learning environments, which is a way of working with conflict that puts the focus on repairing the harm that has been done. It is an approach to conflict resolution that includes all of the parties involved. Restorative processes have a proven positive impact in changing school cultures, especially with regard to attendance and behaviour, when embedded in a wider restorative setting, and within clear school improvement strategies. The Restorative Justice Council said:
- A report published by the Department for Education gave whole-school restorative approaches the highest rating of effectiveness at preventing bullying, with a survey of schools showing 97% rated restorative approaches as effective.
- An independent evaluation of restorative justice in Bristol schools found that restorative justice improved school attendance and reduced exclusion rates.
Restorative practice is a proactive way of working WITH people, not doing things TO them, not doing things FOR them and NOT being neglectful and doing nothing at all (Wachtel and McCold, 2001, p.117). They seek to increase the opportunities for dialogue at every level.
Despite the work of these organisations, the problem continues and we should all be more aware and concerned about these issues.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger:
Contact the police on 999 or 101. If the child is not in immediate danger but you are still concerned, or you or someone you know is experiencing bullying, you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or by emailing [email protected] OR Childline on 0800 1111 or your local child protection services.
For more information on how to identify bullying and intervene in schools/ colleges and resources to develop staff knowledge of safeguarding in learning environments, please contact us. For further help and advice click on the Anti-Bullying Alliance link here >
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