Everyday children, teenagers and young people are being bullied! Why? Probably because it was accepted childhood behaviour years ago; yet today it is one of the key topics of concern among adults, parents/carer’s, teachers, youth workers, mentors and counsellors. The serious social and emotional affect bullying has on children and young people is now thought about in-depth, especially as the extremely serious consequences of being bullied has devastating effects on young people where the trauma has resulted in some committing suicide.
By Sue Scott-Horne keen2learn
As adults some of us know what it can feel like to be bossed around and bullied by our work colleagues, friends or family. We have had to learn skills to help us deal with the effects. 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. Shockingly up to 50 per cent of children are bullied at some point during their school years.
The UK Children Act 2004 set out the framework that professional’s delivering children’s services must follow. The ‘Every Child Matters’ (ECM) element of the framework has five objectives:
- Be Healthy
- Stay Safe
- Enjoy And Achieve
- Make A Positive Contribution
- Achieve Economic Well-Being
A support system must be put in place for these positive outcomes to be supported throughout the school journey. The elimination of Bullying is a fundamental intention of the ECM objectives. Schools have to ‘co-operate to improve well-being’ by promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children and young people. The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) for Children’s Services and Skills evaluate and inspect and how schools contribute to meet the ECM outcomes.
Recognising bullying behaviour and its consequences can be very confusing for a child. When children know they are being bullied some actually think this is how life is and that people behaving in this way are therefore acceptable. It is our responsibility as adults to stop this confusion and focus on the changing behaviour of the child who is being bullied as well as the bully. This is especially relevant if they are not prepared to tell or too frightened to tell someone it is happening.
The tell-tale signs that a child is being bullied include:-
- 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.
- Complaining of not feeling well, have stomach aches or headaches.
- Seeming agitated and not sure of themselves.
- Felling sick and trembling.
- They may not want to use the phone or computer as texts or email notes are sent to them telling them nasty things.
(Cyber bulling) Seek support at www.cybermentors.org.uk
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. This state of flux and anxiety can make the child look quite unwell. Intervention has to be appropriate for bullying to be prevented! The first port of call for an educator is to contact the parent and vice versa. If the parent contacts the educator they can talk through the support system to help the child being bullied and put a coping skills system in place for them. During this phase hopefully the bully’s name will emerge allowing the school to stop the bullying as part of their Anti-Bullying Policy that legally all schools must have in place for immediate action.
The Anti-Bullying policy recommendations should involve:
- Giving a member of staff specific responsibility for Anti-Bullying work.
- Auditing current practices and implementing changes to the policy.
- Developing Anti-Bullying Policies as part of the School Behaviour Policy.
- Ensuring the policy covers all forms of bullying especially relating to Special Educational Needs, disabilities and Cyber Bullying.
- The policy should also refer to bullying of staff as well as pupils.
- The policy should explore all available support e.g. a Behaviour and Attendance Consultant.
Bullying can take place over a few days, weeks or months. It is important to try to establish what has caused it. It may be jealousy, wanting to divert attention away from a popular or a gifted child doing well academically or good at physical sports, dance or football. It could equally be a quiet child who does not mix or socialise well. Staff and parents must be vigilant and focus on the group(s) social mix and not let a lonely, special needs or disabled child be a target. Racial, religious or homophobic bullying can also take place; whatever the reason it must be immediately resolved by working through the problems, seeking professional guidance and support where necessary.
There are many places outside of school or youth club settings that bullying can occur. It must be dealt with immediately. There is no time to waste in supporting, intervening and preventing bullying.
Support and guidance leaflets and DVD’s can be obtained from: