This year will take place from Monday November 19 2012 until Friday November 23 2012. This takes place in the same week across the UK. For the team here at respectme, it is a very busy period. We start planning this around March and April each year. Our focus is on three main things:
1. Our national conference
2. The anti-bullying week competition
3. A national anti-bullying media campaign
We aim to keep the standards of these very high!
This year’s conference will take place at Murryfield Stadium on Tuesday November 20 2012. We have held a conference there previously and it is a great venue. Since our very first conference we have ensured that the inclusion of children and young people is meaningful. I have always been surprised and a little disappointed when I have attended events and there are two young people sitting at the front with a teacher or member of staff and there presence is acknowledged by all the key speakers but that is as far as there inclusion goes.
I have sat in meetings planning events and colleagues have reacted very strangely to the thought of young people taking a lead – they see young people’s events in one place and one for the professionals in another and never the twain shall meet. This has often been rationalised by saying people find young people’s inclusion tokenistic. I find their inclusion tokenistic too, if it’s not done right. So what’s my advice? Don’t be tokenistic!
Our conferences have always had young people delivering workshops, drama presentations, debates and keynote speeches. Young people have made video diaries of conferences and blogged about their experiences. Using a Twitter feed has seen young people share thoughts and others not attending have had the opportunity to join in too. This year will be the same – more details to follow soon but this is the standard we set for every event.
The national competition has been a revelation for us at respectme, once we changed the focus from simply a poster campaign to one asking the question ‘What does bullying mean to me?’ This has led to thousands of entries in a variety of formats form creative writing, to videos, photography sculpture (yes, sculpture) to songs and raps. In asking this question we get individual feedback on what bullying means to children and young people.
The themes that emerge are consistent each year, young people feel lost, hurt, frightened, helpless and worried about making things worse. These feelings of fear and loss are expressed vividly in a number of ways. The leaning this has given us and the confidence to talk about what young people say about bullying has been incredible.
The competition is not just for schools, youth clubs, children’s homes and all sorts of organisations can enter. If you are involved in dance, drama or any activity, this competition may be of interest. See the home page on www.respectme.org.uk for information.
Our campaigns vary every year and last years ‘She’s still going somewhere’ campaign video will be hard to top. That is something the whole team will be focussing on ion the coming weeks – so watch this space or indeed any feedback you want to share, let me know.
It has always been our intention to use anti-bullying week to highlight and showcase the work being done every week of the year on anti-bullying. We never wanted this week to be just a time for specific activity in schools or clubs that may be forgotten about soon after. We fund work in local areas too to promote activity that raises the profile of anti-bullying, some of the brilliant work done here will be featured at an event at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday November 21 2012.
In the meantime, head down and roll on November!