Just One Kind Word: Anti-Bullying Week 2021

Written by: Martha Evans | Published:

Kindness fuels kindness and in a polarised, online world it is becoming more and more crucial. Could 2021 be the year when we see the importance of kindness? Anti-Bullying Week is leading the way and Martha Evans is urging schools to get involved

Does anyone remember the film Be Kind Rewind? Set in a video rental store, the title takes its name from the label often found on rented VHS cassettes. The viewer was asked to kindly rewind the tape after use, thus saving the next person from the hassle of having to do it themselves.

While technology has moved on, kindness is more important today than it has ever been.

The isolation of the last year has underlined how little acts of consideration and charity can break down barriers and brighten the lives of the people around us. Kindness is more relevant than ever.

This was one of the reasons, that “One Kind Word” was chosen for the theme of Anti-Bullying Week this year – which is due to take place from November 15 to 19.

Following the success of the campaign in 2020 – when a jaw-dropping 80 per cent of schools marked the week in one way or another – the Anti-Bullying Alliance (which coordinates the campaign each year in England and Wales) asked more than 400 young people, teachers and parents what they wanted from this year’s Anti-Bullying Week.

Again and again, the young – and not-so-young – told us that they wanted anti-bullying work to be about hope and the positive and kind things we can do to halt hurtful behaviour in its tracks.

Our research shows that 30 per cent of children will have been bullied in the last year alone, while one child in every classroom will experience bullying everyday (ABA, 2021).

One Kind Word can be a turning point. It can change someone’s perspective. It can change their day. It can change the course of a conversation and break the cycle of bullying. Best of all, one kind word leads to another. Kindness fuels kindness.

We can all play a part in a chain reaction that powers positivity. We think this upbeat message will resonate with children who know all too well how unkind words can hurt and undermine them.

So how will the theme of kindness be reflected in Anti-Bullying Week 2021?

As usual, schools will be able to download free teaching resources and themed assemblies, geared to different key stages, in the autumn.

These will focus on the activities we can all take, from playgrounds to Parliament, from our phones to our homes, to spread kindness and prevent bullying behaviour. Last year our resources were downloaded more than 50,000 times.

And Anti-Bullying Alliance patron Andy Day, the CBBC and CBeebies star, will once again be right behind the campaign with his band Andy and the Odd Socks.

The group traditionally creates a toe-tapping tune released to mark the event and, while I cannot say too much, if last year’s songs and videos are anything to go by, it will be a show-stopper!

Andy will highlight Odd Socks Day on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week. There is a serious message behind the fun: let’s pull on odd socks to show that we are all unique and different, and let’s be kind to each other and respect each other’s individuality.

For older children, the buzz on social media is an important part of Anti-Bullying Week, and a great opportunity for

schools to share with the education community how they have embraced the anti-bullying message.

Last year, your support and inspiration helped #AntiBullyingWeek trend at number one on Twitter, reach more than 44 million users on TikTok, and get almost 600,000 views of Odd Socks Day videos on YouTube.

Similarly, the coverage in national media makes sure that vital conversations and debates about how we can minimise the impact of bullying on children’s lives are happening right across the country. And, with your help, we are hoping for an even bigger splash this year.

However, what makes us really proud is the fact that Anti-Bullying Week helps raise awareness of bullying among the children and young people themselves.

As one child put it when we spoke to them: “Anti-Bullying Week literally saved my life.”

This is only possible through the support of schools that want to tackle the bullying they know is taking place both online and face-to-face. It makes us so proud when we read the supportive comments of teachers taking part in our online consultation on the campaign.

Following their work on Anti-Bullying Week, one teacher told us: “There was more awareness of what bullying consists of for the pupils and how they can help reduce their own and other’s bullying behaviours.”

That is the right way of putting it. Bullying is a behaviour, and one that can be changed. Another teacher added: “Thank you for promoting such a great cause – this is one of the highlights of our year.”

So, this year please join us to celebrate how kindness can be part of the solution. To paraphrase Michel Gondry’s film, it is time to rewind and be kind – starting with just One Kind Word.

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