Some things that I have learned about bullying

While discussing anti-bullying in school today, the conversation took me to this list of observations I suppose, and summarising some quick messages about bullying and how we approach it, how we deal with it and form good habits as individuals and as a whole school – including parents and carers   – so here is some of what I have learned

  • Stop debating if it’s bullying or not and deal with what someone did and the impact it had 
  • Stop labelling children and bullies – This means children who are not labelled as bullies do actually get away with bullying sometimes 
  • Help children that are bullied regain some sense of control and choice over what happens – children that are bullied do not feel like themselves, or allowed to be themselves – help then get this feeling back
  • Stop talking about bullying as if it’s something that is happening somewhere else 
  • If it’s not bullying – it can still be serious – don’t wait for it to repeated to act bullying does not always have to be repeated
  • The fear of something happening again or the anticipation, can be just as terrifying for children – a child’s day can be seriously affected ‘waiting’ on something bad happening
  • Remember the internet and social media is a place, not a thing, your child is essentially going somewhere when they go online, take it as seriously, if you wouldn’t let then go into town by themselves, done let the be online by themselves
  • If your child is using social media – download it and use it too, figure out how it works and how to be safe
  • Adults – say what you see – call out behaviour and challenge prejudice and stereotypes when it happens – do this with clarity and passion – know what to say when prejudiced language is used – of your not sure, I can help with that 
  • Don’t do ‘lessons’ on anti-bullying – pupils know the right answer – discuss what actually goes on   
  • Recognise that children know who to tell but choose not to for a variety of reasons. They worry that they’ll make things worse or an adult will overreact. As young as P2 children have told me they know who to tell but frequently chose not to.
  • It is normal for parents to feel angry – but focus on what your child needs from you at the time – I promise it won’t’ be your anger they are looking for 
  • Focus on kindness, compassion and love as a whole school – and mean it – know your school values – bullying will never be in-step with them – use them every single day not just for assemblies 
  • Don’t just focus on what the pro social pupils are saying and doing – it’s important but try to capture views and experiences of everyone
  • Telling then to ‘hit back’ doesn’t really help children. Most children cannot and will not hit someone – not everyone can hit someone hard enough that it will stop them hit back as well!  – we need to be careful that we are not teaching children that you deal with problems using violence, as they may well learn that if you are stronger or can hit harder, you can win your argument. This is not a healthy way to deal with relationships

I have several longer blogs that go into more detail about this and as always, I would direct people to read them if they can. I have spent years saying that there is no one answer but if your approach is rooted in fairness, kindness and children’s right to be safe and to be who they are – you’ll be going in the right direction  

Relationships are everything, when they matter, behaviour can change

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