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Anti-Bullying Week 2019: How to react to bullies, where to seek help, and what can parents do?

8th November 2019

Bullying in schools takes so many forms. There is a difference between occasional name-calling and sustained physical abuse, though both have the same root cause and both can damage to a young persons wellbeing and development many years into the future. 

What is bullying?

"Bullying is defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour, repeated over a period of time and is not just a one off incident, where it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves, will disturb their education and could cause their life to be a misery."

The fact is that the statistics continue to speak for themselves, with almost half of children worried about returning to school after summer holidays. As bullying continues to evolve into an ever-more developing threat, with social media and 24/7 online harassment now increasingly frequent, it’s far too big a problem to ignore or not take seriously.

What to do if you're being bullied

- The bully is often looking for a reaction. Calmly tell bully that you are not bothered and walk away. 

- You need to speak out. Tell a teacher confidentially and ask them to keep an eye on the situation as they can then catch the bully red-handed.

- Tell a friend. As well as having their support they can also be a witness if it happens again. 

- Tell a parent or guardian. 

- If you are being cyberbullied, don’t respond to the messages, save them for evidence and tell a parent or guardian. Take note of the bully’s user ID and the URL. Then block them if you can. 

- Call Childline on 0800 1111 — it won’t show up on the phone bill and it’s a free, private and confidential service where you can talk about bullying (or anything else that is worrying you).

- Keep a detailed diary to include the incidences of bullying. Log the date, time etc.

- Tell your GP if you feel that your mental health is being affected. 

- If the bullying happens out of school your parents can tell the police. If the bully is over the age of 10 then they will be old enough to have criminal responsibility. The police can apply for an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) to keep the bullies away from you.

What is Anti-Bullying Week?

Held every year since 2004, Anti-Bullying Week is organised in schools across England by the Anti-Bullying Alliance – a coalition of organisations with the common goal of creating safer environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn.

It consists of a range of awareness campaigns and activities, which last year reached 79% of schools in England and 7.5 million pupils. During Anti-Bullying Week 2018, the ABA:

- Supplied resources and materials for teachers to use in lessons and assemblies across primary and secondary schools

- Awarded members of teaching staff who proactively tackle bullying

- Created social media campaigns and trends which gained national media attention

- Organised two themed days – Odd Socks Day, a day of fundraising and awareness, and Stop Speak Support day, a day targeted specifically at cyberbullying

This year's Anti-Bullying Week runs from Monday 11th to Friday 15th November 2019. The theme is “Change Starts With Us”. 

Focusing on a collective responsibility to tackle bullying from the ground up, this year’s aims are, according to the ABA:

Small change. Big difference.

Whether it is verbal, physical, online or in-person, bullying has a significant impact on a child’s life well into adulthood. 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.

Change starts here.

Change starts now.

Change starts with us.

What to do if I think my child is being bullied 

- Take time to listen to what your child has to say, while putting your own feelings aside. Never dismiss their experience and don’t tell them to ignore it as that teaches them that bullying is something to be tolerated.

- Reassure your child that it is not their fault.

- Bullies are often looking for a reaction from their victim. Practice some short responses your child can give the bully to show they are not bothered as the bully is more likely to get bored and stop. 

- Encourage your child to start new activities and clubs outside school. This will help them to make new friends and build confidence. 

- You need to tell the school, but if you are unsure how to approach them, the Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) offers an advice line 0300 0115 142

- Note down all the facts before you approach the school and make an appointment to see the class teacher or head of year. The school is usually last to find out bullying is taking place (after friends and then parents) so this will be news to them.

- Keep a bullying diary with your child if the bullying continues — dates, times, incidents etc. If your child has been physically hurt, take photos of the injury.

- Arrange a follow-up meeting with the school to check progress. 

- Contact the local education authority education welfare officer or social worker if your child is too frightened to go to school because you face prosecution if you take your child out of school.

What anti-bullying policies do schools have?

Since the implementation of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, every maintained school in the country has been required to introduce measures to prevent bullying. These can be in an anti-bullying policy or part of an existing behaviour policy. From 2012 onwards, independent schools and academies have also been obliged to implement an anti-bullying strategy.

Both the content and the monitoring of these policies are the collective responsibility of  pupils, parents and teachers alike. The content of the policy is decided as part of a consultation process which is reviewed regularly.

What anti-bullying activities can my school take part in? 

Odd Socks Day, held this year on Tuesday 12th November, is a great way to get your school involved in anti-bullying. It promotes self-expression and individuality and celebrates the things that make us all unique.

All pupils need to do to take part is wear odd socks. A £1 donation per pupil to the Anti-Bullying Alliance is also suggested – however, it’s not all about fundraising. There are plenty of creative activities – from colouring to music to craft – that schools can use to help pupils really understand the message of Odd Socks Day. 

Pupils can also wear badges to raise awareness of the anti-bullying cause – although the badges on the Anti-Bullying Alliance website are sold out, we have a great range of Anti-Bullying Ambassador badges available now for just 75p each. 

The anti-bullying song 

CBeebies star Andy Day – ambassador for the Anti-Bullying Alliance – and his band Andy and the Odd Socks, have once again written and recorded an official song for Anti-Bullying Week 2019. 

You can watch ‘Change’ here and also download the lyrics to ‘Change’ here.