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Make a Noise About Bullying – Anti-bullying Week

We started off this week with an assembly on bullying, led by Mr Butcher. Unfortunately, the issue of bullying exists almost everywhere where there are people. It can be found in schools, sports clubs, in the workplace, and even in the upper echelons of government. One only needs to read the news to note that even those who should be championing the fair treatment of all people fall foul of this unacceptable behaviour.

So how do we address this issue in schools? We should start at the point of prevention rather than being reactive in our approach. Speaking to children about what bullying looks like (what it is and what it is not), is very important. It can often be disguised as just being ‘banter’ between friends, but oftentimes, this is where it begins.

Thoughtlessness, the point at which most negative behaviour towards others starts (if left unchecked), can grow into a habit of saying and doing mean things. We need to speak to our children about being mindful of the feelings of others, and to ensure that we are not making anyone feel uncomfortable by pointing out an obvious vulnerability or point of difference. Banter, or light teasing between friends is something we have all been a part of. It’s often considered a sign that you are approved of by your peers, and that one has become part of the group. However, there are many instances where this has gone too far, and one does not need to look much further than some successful sports clubs around the country to see that many instances of alleged bullying and discrimination started off in this manner.

We need to help children to spot the signs of bullying behaviour early on, as this will help them, and their peers, to nip it in the bud. It requires a cultural shift, where everyone is responsible for ensuring that the climate within a school is kind, welcoming and open to difference.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Model what kindness and acceptance of others looks like. Children copy our behaviour and if we are unkind or perhaps intolerant of others, this does rub off on our children, and it often rears its head in their interactions at school.
  • Help children to understand that bullying behaviour is not okay, and that if they see it or experience it, they should tell an adult immediately. Unfortunately, we cannot be with our children all the time, and this kind of behaviour thrives in the shadows when adults are perhaps not present or paying attention.
  • We should be curious about our children’s social lives. Chats around the dinner table and discussions about friendships are very important. There are often telltale signs that all is not well in our children’s lives. A reticence to speak about friends, or what has happened at school on a particular day, may be an indication that something has gone wrong.
  • Do not be afraid to speak to staff at school. If you suspect that there is an element of bullying present, please do speak to your child’s tutor, or any member of staff. It will be taken seriously and feedback will be given. We are all here to help children make the right choices so that everyone can be happy at school – as they should be.
  • When someone is unkind or mean towards our children, we should help them to understand that it is not their fault. The victims of bullying often fall into a negative cycle of blaming themselves, which takes the focus off the fact that bullying behaviour is the issue. People who bully others are often very unhappy people themselves, and are merely acting out patterns of behaviour that they have seen or been the victim of. Helping children to understand this will go a long way to protecting the self esteem of children who have been on the receiving end of bullying behaviour.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s Anti-bullying Week, let’s make a noise about bullying. Let’s speak about it with our children, and address it with those who can help if there is a problem.

Craig Cuyler
Director of Wellbeing/Head of PSHEe/
Deputy DSL/ Assistant Housemaster


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