Are you aware that this week is anti-bullying week? Is bullying something that concerns you? Have you ever experienced this yourself? Have you witnessed it? What do you think we should be doing about it?
Edward Timpson MP, Minister of State said: “No child should face the fear of bullying – whether through violence, cyberbullying or name-calling. While the situation is improving, there is no place for bullying of any kind in our schools, and we are determined to help schools continue to tackle this issue so that all children can fulfil their potential.”
Of course, bullying doesn’t just take place in schools. Children and young people experience this at clubs, in the street, at home or even via their computers or phones.
We all have a role to play in protecting children and young people and eradicating bullying.
What are schools doing about bullying?
The Department for Education provides funding for schools to develop anti-bullying strategies and projects. These include training pupils to become anti-bullying ambassadors and specialised training focusing on tackling bullying among young people with SEN and/or disabilities
Teacher’s powers have been strengthened and they have the freedom to search for and delete inappropriate images from phones and devices. They are also able to discipline and investigate cases of bullying outside of the school gates
Schools have policies in place to deal with bullying so, when incidents do occur, they are dealt with quickly. They are encouraged to prevent bullying by foreseeing issues that may cause conflict and develop plans to prevent bullying happening in the first place
What else should schools and community groups be doing?
Top tips for parents or carers worried about bullying, from the Department for Education and Anti Bullying Alliance
If your child is being bullied don’t panic. Explain to your child that the bullying is not their fault and together you will sort this out
Bullying is never acceptable; and should always be taken seriously. It is never your child’s fault if they’ve been bullied
Try and establish the facts. It can be helpful to keep a diary of events. If the bullying is online, save or copy images and text
Find out what your child wants to happen. Help to identify steps you can take; and the skills they have to help sort out the situation. Make sure you always keep them informed about any actions you decide to take
You may be tempted to tell your child to retaliate but this can have unpredictable results. Your child might get into trouble or get even more hurt. Rather – role play non-violent ways they can respond to children that are bullying them (e.g. ‘I don’t like it when you say that to me / do that to me. Stop.’); show them how to block or unfriend people if the bullying is online and help them identify other friends or adults that can support them
Encourage your child to get involved in activities that build their confidence and esteem, and help them to form friendships outside of school (or wherever the bullying is taking place)
Top tips on how to protect your child from cyberbullying from the Department for Education
With an ever growing social media presence in our children’s lives the reality is that most children have been involved in cyberbullying in some way, either as a victim, perpetrator, or bystander. This is because it tends to involve a number of online bystanders and can quickly spiral out of control. Parents and carers have a challenging job. You need to know what your children are doing online and also help them to do it in a safe way.
1. Set boundaries
Supervise children’s internet access by setting boundaries and making an agreement on what they can and cannot do online. If the agreement is broken, restrict internet access for an agreed period of time.
2. Follow restrictions
Social Networks have a minimum age restriction, usually age thirteen. Explain to your children that these restrictions are in place for their safety.
3. Arm your children with advice:
Make sure you use the privacy settings on offer
Be careful what you say online. Respect others and do not retaliate or reply to offending e-mails, text messages or online conversations – leave the conversation
Be careful what pictures or videos you upload. Once a picture is shared online it cannot be taken back
Only add people you know and trust to friends/followers lists online. If talking to strangers, keep your personal information safe and location hidden
Block the bully –block someone who is behaving badly and report them to the service in use. Many services take bullying seriously and will either warn the individual or eliminate his or her account
Save the evidence. Always keep a copy of offending e-mails, text messages or a screen grab of online conversations and pass to a parent, a carer or a teacher
Make sure you tell an adult you trust, for example, a parent, a carer, a teacher, or the anti-bullying co-ordinator or call a helpline like Childline on 08001111 in confidence
4. Spot the signs of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is typically hard to spot as it can happen at any time. Be alert to a change in your child’s behaviour, for example:
Being upset or withdrawn after using the internet or their mobile phone
Unwilling to talk or secretive about their online activities and mobile phone use
Spending much more or much less time texting, gaming or using social media
Not wanting to partake in previously enjoyable situations like going to school or meeting friends and school mates
Support for children who are bullied is available within schools, through Childline, and the Anti-Bullying Alliance – all whom help build confidence and a sense of emotional safety.
If you work with children and young people you also have a responsibility to ensure their safety and protection from bullying. Do you feel able to carry this out in your role? Do you feel more training in this area is needed? We would love to know your thoughts........