Anti-Bullying Week is on the horizon (14th-18th November) once more, ready to take on this painfully distressing issue within our education system. The week originated to raise the awareness of bullying in schools by tackling the finer details involved in bullying and also concentrate on how to eliminate it.
This years’ Anti-Bullying Alliance mantra is based around Power for Good, their website says “To support children and young people to use their Power for Good – by understanding the ways in which they are powerful and encouraging individual and collective action to stop bullying and create the best world possible.
To help parents and carers to use their Power for Good – through supporting children with issues relating to bullying and working together with schools to stop bullying.
To encourage all teachers, school support staff and youth workers to use their Power for Good – by valuing the difference they can make in a child’s life, and taking individual and collective action to prevent bullying and create safe environments where children can thrive.” (Anti-Bullying Alliance website, 2016)
The definition of bullying is when someone “intimidates or causes harm to another person deliberately”. The victims of bullying can be verbally, physically or emotionally assaulted and always feel threatened and often frightened.
Bullying should never be viewed as an unfortunate but unavoidable part of school life, no human deserves to be bullied, especially not innocent children. It can have lifelong effects on victims and we must work together to eradicate it at the source, as early as possible.
Bullying in school can include:
Verbal harassment – face to face, by phone, instant messaging or over the internet (also known as cyberbullying)
Physical harassment – hair-pulling, pinching, punching, scratching or kicking
Teasing and name-calling
Spreading rumours and damaging reputations
Intimidating or threatening behaviour
Exclusion from social events and networks
How can I tell if a child is being bullied?
The majority of children may not tell you that they are being bullied, this may be because they simply don’t understand that it is happening, in older children sometimes they will feel too proud/don’t want to appear weak or it is most likely that they are afraid of the consequences of telling an adult. This can be tackled early on with lessons on how it is OK to tell adults when they feel somebody is treating them badly. You may also notice some changes in his or her behaviour, including:
Feeling sick/frequent headaches
Regular bruising/damage to the body
Not sleeping properly
Missing or damaged belongings
What should I do if I suspect a child is being bullied?
If you suspect a child is being bullied, first of all, find a quiet time to talk to the child. Explain that bullying is unacceptable and that no one should have to put up with it, the people who bully are weaker than the victim. Tell the child that you will do everything in your power to stop it.
Make time to speak to the parent of the child, set up a meeting if you can. Useful tips for this type of meeting are:
Find out exactly what has happened beforehand and detail this to the parent also, find out if it is a single occurrence
Explain the school’s anti-bullying policy
Keep the parent calm as they may feel emotional or angry
Explain to the parent that teachers or the victim can’t be blamed for this as they may be unaware of the issue
Discuss what action you will be taking to end the matter
Arrange to meet again within two weeks to discuss progress
Take minutes from the meeting and store them for future reference
If necessary, escalate the matter to senior staff or the head for discussion
You can get specialist advice from a number of high quality websites if the bullying continues. Information is available from the following websites:
What should I do if I know a child is a bully?
Much like unruly adults, a child who is bullying others will often be dealing with problems of their own and this can be why they are lashing out in such a way. Try to understand why they are bullying by finding out what is going on in their school/home/social life, speak to the parents and ask questions to get to the bottom of the issue. Consider the following:
Is the child going through a difficult time?
Is the child dealing with a family bereavement?
Does the child feel overlooked, overshadowed or underappreciated?
Could the child be mimicking someone’s behaviour – maybe an adult, another bully or older sibling at home?
Do other members of the child’s family use aggression or force to get what they want?
Are the parents/family allowing this bullying behaviour to happen?
Make sure the child understands that bullying is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. Encourage the child to be friendly, understanding and kind to others. Make the parents aware at the earliest opportunity and try to get them to bolster friendships by inviting other children over to their home but tell them to watch out for any signs of bullying.
How do you deal with bullying at your education establishment? Do you think bullying can be completely eradicated? Leave your comments below.