Wednesday, 10 November 2010

An insight into the causes and solutions to bullying - Anti Bullying Week 15th-19th November

Everyday children, teenagers and young people are being bullied!  Why?

Probably because it was accepted childhood behaviour years ago; although today it is one of the most talked about topics of concern among adults, parents/carer’s, teachers, youth workers, mentors and counsellors. The serious social and emotional affect it has on children and young people is now thought about in-depth, especially as extremely serious consequences of being bullied has reached devastating affects with young people committing suicide because of the trauma of it.

As adults we know what it can feel like to be bossed around and bullied by our work colleagues, friends or family and we have had to adopt and learn life coping skills to help us deal with this; so to be a child or young person having to cope with bullying is a very challenging and confusing place to be.  Being bullied can make people feel very lonely, isolated with their self esteem at an all time low as they begin to feel the power of the bully. Up to half of all children are bullied at some point during school time.

The Children Act 2004 – This Act set out the framework for delivering children’s services that professionals must work towards.  The ‘Every Child Matters’ five outcomes are:
The support system needed, must be put in place for these positive outcomes to be supported throughout school life and Bullying or a Bully is not accepted within these outcomes. Schools now have to ‘co-operate to improve well-being’ and to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.  The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) for Children’s Services and Skills, inspect and evaluate how schools are contributing to meeting the ECM outcomes.

Recognising bullying behaviour and doing something about it can also be very confusing for a child. Especially if children know they are being bullied, they may actually think this is how life is and some people can and do behave in this way and that it is acceptable.  It is our responsibility as adults and staff to stop that confusion and be able to focus in to the changing behaviour of the child who is being bullied as well as the bully; especially if they are not prepared to tell or are frightened to tell someone it is happening.
Below is some of the tell-tale, spotting signs that a child is being bullied:-

Not wanting to go to school, starting to truant or not socialising.

They may become very quiet in their behaviour and shut themselves away in another room, feeling very unhappy.

They may complain of not feeling well, have stomach aches or headaches.

They may seem agitated and not sure of themselves.

They may start to feel sick and tremble.

They may not want to use the phone or computer as texts or email notes are sent to them telling them nasty things.

These are some of the signs and these are what we must look for and focus in on to support the child who is being bullied.  A gentle talk may help but sometimes if the child is extremely bullied the bully may have threatened them not to tell or something could happen to them.  A state of flux and anxiety ensues and the child will look quite unwell, so intervention has to be done appropriately for bullying to be prevented!  The first port of call as an educator would be to contact the parent, or vice versa, if the parent contacts the educator then they can talk through a support system as to how they will help the child being bullied, putting into place a coping skills system for them, hopefully during this support the bully’s name will emerge and a system to stop the bullying as in an Anti-Bullying Policy, that schools must legally have in place for immediate action to be taken.

The Anti-Bullying policy recommendations could involve:
  • Giving a member of staff, specific responsibility for Anti-Bullying work.
  • Auditing current practices and prioritising change to the policy.
  • Developing Anti-Bullying Policies as part of the School Behaviour Policy.
  • Making sure the policy covers all forms of bullying especially relating it to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities along with Cyber Bullying.
  • The policy should also refer to the bullying of staff as well as pupils.
  • The policy should explore all available support e.g. Behaviour and Attendance Consultant.
As bullying can be taking place for a few days, weeks or months it is important to try to establish what has caused it, it may be jealousy, wanting to take the attention away from a popular child, or a gifted child who is doing well academically as well as a child who is good at physical sports, dance or football. It may be a quiet child who does not mix or socialise well that could be a bully target. On reflection, staff must always be on the look out and focus into the group/groups social mix and not let a lonely child or special needs/disabled child be a target. It could also be race, religious or homophobic bullying taking place, whatever the reason it must be immediately sorted out and a vigil eye kept on the parties whilst working through the problems, along with professional guidance and support explored when necessary.

Bullying takes place in many places outside of school or youth club settings and in each place it is happening it must be acted on in the same way, immediately, with no time to waste in supporting, intervening and preventing bullying.  There are many leaflets, DVD’s and guidance documents that can be sought from the DirectGov or DCSF websites or from the Anti-Bullying Alliance website.

EGAR Educational Games And Resources launched their new ‘BEING BULLIED’ Let’s Get Talking ‘Choice’ Discussion Card game at the NEC Birmingham Education Show in March 2010. It is a structured, supervised card set, an alternative talking tool for educators, mentors, youth counsellors and parents/carer’s to use to communicate and educate children and young people about ‘Being Bullied’.  The game has been thought about in-depth and covers the outcomes of the ECM framework.  It explores many issues about bullying and gives children and young people a chance to talk openly and safely about it.

EGAR Educational Games And Resources are attempting to change the way young people communicate with parents/carers and teachers among others. Allowing for clear communication on difficult issues eg being bullied, crime, health and the environment to find out more about what EGAR can do for you head to

In conclusion please support anti bullying week Nov 15th-19th, however you can, as bullying is a serious issue for children in London, around the country and across the world.

Let us do what we can to prevent it.

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