The latest annual bullying survey produced by Ditch the Label, a national anti-bullying charity, is a comprehensive report on bullying in schools and colleges in the UK. Talking to nearly 4,000 young people, the survey highlights some key issues and also raises some positive and practical points on how schools can create an environment where young people feel confident about raising issues if they arise. Bullying is an anti-social activity that can thrive in any school environment so it’s essential that it doesn’t go unchecked.
Bullying is nothing new but how we view bullying has changed dramatically, and for good reason. No longer is it a rite of passage that must be endured when growing up. Parents, teachers and even celebrities across the nation are taking a stand against bullying. Studies in the U.S. show that schools with a robust anti-bullying policy see a 20% reduction in such unacceptable behaviour. Are you ready to declare your school a bully-free zone? If so, read on.
Putting an end to bullying
Putting an end to bullying takes a team approach. Parents, teachers and students alike need to work together to stop it. Here are some ideas on how to tackle the problem proactively:
- Be Open and Honest about the subject: Consider holding informational sessions with students and teachers to discuss what constitutes bullying. Afterwards, survey participants, anonymously at first if you prefer, to find out what types of bullying are actually occurring in the school and how often. This is a great way to grasp the reality of the situation within your school. Once you have this information, share it with parents, teachers and students so everyone knows exactly what kinds of problems you’re facing. Imprint a statistic from your research on pencils and hand them out in the classroom or at school assemblies. Also send a letter to parents letting them know that your school is taking a positive approach to making bullying unacceptable in your school. Include a silicone wristband in blue, the colour for bullying awareness, imprinted with the message ‘Bullies Not Welcome’. Remember, making bullying unacceptable takes a unified approach. ‘If it hides, it thrives’ could become a great motto on school equipment such as pencil cases.
- Develop a policy: Develop an anti-bullying policy, if you don’t already have one. It should clearly describe what behaviour is considered unacceptable, the consequences for policy violations and what to do if someone is experiencing or witnessing bullying. The policy should be shared across the entire school with parents, teachers and students alike. Post the policy on your social media channels and on the website, send out an email notification and hand out ‘If it hides, it thrives’ badges at school events.
- Educate and inform your students: Use classroom time to educate and inform students on the different forms of bullying and its effects. Often, students just don’t realise that what they consider joking is actually bullying – clear guidelines help everyone. Post rules on posters and display them in each classroom, and as a reminder of your school’s anti-bullying initiative, install pop-up banners to declare your school a ‘Bully-Free Zone’. Reinforce this message by posting a sign or sticker on each and every classroom door.
- Empower your students: Empower your students to take a stand against bullies. Give students the words and courage they need to stand up for themselves and others – practice this by role-playing. Reward participation with promotional merchandise such as printed T-shirts or sweets. Lastly, make sure students have a safe and easy way to report bullying.
Remember, putting an end to bullying takes a team approach. Get everyone educated and empowered, and just see what a difference your school can make.
Further Reading / Sources.
Annual Bullying Survey 2014 The UK’s most comprehensive bullying statistics. Web 8 Nov. 2014.
Tamanini, Kara. How Do We Stop Bullying in Schools? Psych Central.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 12 Nov. 2014.
Prevent Bullying. – Bullying Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 12 Nov. 2014.