Family & Home

Anti-bullying week

Anti-Bullying Week happens in schools across England each November. This year’s Anti-Bullying Week has the theme Change Starts With Us – Suzie Smith takes a closer look.  

This year’s anti-bullying week is running from November 11th – 15th; the theme was picked after the charity behind the annual event worked with more than 1,000 children and young people to consider the focus. 

Small change. Big difference. That’s the ethos behind Change Starts With Us, run by the Anti Bullying Alliance.

The website states: “Whether it is verbal, physical, online or in-person, bullying has a significant impact on a child’s life well in to adulthood. 

24% of children surveyed said they are bullied once a week or more

“By making small, simple changes, we can break this cycle and create a safe environment for everyone. Because together, we can challenge bullying. Change starts with a conversation. It starts with checking in. It starts with work together,” Anti Bullying Alliance. 

I was punched repeatedly by a girl at school once, my parents immediately stepped in and the girl in question was given a police caution. It wasn’t her first, so it was made very clear that if she didn’t anything like that again, she’d be in serious trouble.

The girl was a known bully, forever intimidating and threatening other kids. In hindsight a lot of that was to play up to other girls in her group. None of them were particularly nice. 

Thankfully for me the incident was over and dealt with as quickly as it began. But I thank my lucky stars I don’t live in the world we are in now, where the abuse can continue online when I got home from school. 

I know one close friend whose daughter was bullied on Christmas Eve on Instagram – horrible photoshopped images of her were shared and a large number of her school ‘friends’ called her all sorts of hideous names. The girl didn’t tell her mum – who only found out when the school pulled her in after the Christmas school holidays. 

11% said they have missed school because of bullying

As a result, I’m hyper vigilant of my own daughter’s social media interactions – even at the age of eight. I welcome any initiatives that put an end to bullying, I’ve seen first-hand the damage it can do. 

Children highlighted where they thought change should start, with over three quarters (76%) of those polled saying that social media and gaming platforms should do more to change the way they address bullying.

Nearly half (48%) saying their schools should do more. More than four in ten (44%) of children said that the media and influencers had the power to reduce bullying – Anti Bullying Alliance. 

This year the goal of anti-bullying week is to inform schools and settings, children and young people, parents and carers to know that it takes a collective responsibility to stop bullying. 

There are a series of initiatives to raise awareness, including Odd Socks Day. It’s an opportunity to encourage people to express themselves and celebrate their individuality and what makes us all unique!

You do not have to raise money to take part – the most important thing is the message of Odd Socks Day – and any money raised for us is a bonus.

Here’s some recommendations to help tackle bullying:

  • Schools and education settings must record how much bullying is taking place and understand the ‘hotspots’ where bullying is more likely to happen, such as the journey to and from school.
  • Social media and online gaming companies should set children’s default privacy settings to the highest level.
  • Media and influencers should use their power responsibly and portray real life rather than an ideal.
  • Parents and carers should attempt to understand the technology that children use and take time to listen to children.
  • Government and parliamentarians should act as role models in how they treat each other and fund more training for schools.
  • Children and young people should think about the impact of their words and actions.

The website www.bullying.co.uk has a great selection of advice and articles on subjects such as what to do if you suspect your child is being bullied or talking to your child about bullying.

Remember: Small change. Big difference.

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