Will a pupil reach out to you during Anti-Bullying Week?

Written by: Martha Evans | Published:

The annual Anti-Bullying Week takes place from November 14 to 18. Martha Evans looks at how the campaign is encouraging supportive conversations about bullying and asks all school staff to be aware of what they can do if a pupil reaches out to them

A few weeks back, a friend told me about something their child experienced at school. A teacher was giving a class of spirited 11-year-olds a talk about bullying and how it is never acceptable. My friend’s child meekly raised their hand during the din and explained they were being repeatedly bullied by another child in the class. The teacher stopped, looked a bit flustered and then dismissed the plea with the explanation: “We’re not talking about individual grievances!”

Thankfully, this is not the attitude of the vast majority of teachers who get behind Anti-Bullying Week every year.

Every year, we see piles of nominations from pupils across the country for our School Staff Award in recognition of the extra mile that countless teachers and other school staff go to make sure children don’t suffer bullying.

But it does emphasise that we must be aware of how to respond if someone does reach out and reveal they are being bullied or share with us that they have seen it happening to someone else, or even if they are bullying others themselves.

We might be the trusted adult that the child feels safe with, and we need to be alert and ready so we can repay that trust with advice, support and solutions.

That is why the theme for Anti-Bullying Week 2022 is Reach Out – in recognition that doing something about bullying starts with the first step of speaking to someone: a friend, a parent or often a teacher.

The theme came about following a consultation with teachers and pupils by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), the charity that coordinates Anti-Bullying Week every year in England and Wales. Teachers and children wanted a theme that empowered them to do something positive to counter the harm and hurt that bullying causes.

In particular, we wanted a theme that recognises that everyone has a part to play. If it’s reaching out when bullying happens or speaking up if we see someone else on the receiving end, or just checking in if we see someone feeling down because of the disrespectful behaviour of others, reaching out can help us turn things around.

From pupils to parents, from the playground to Parliament, we all have a role to play, but especially teachers, who can shine a light on bullying and be powerful and positive role models for young people.

We have created resources for both primary and secondary pupils. They include creative ideas for exploring issues such as defining what bullying is and empowering children to respond effectively to being bullied without being drawn into retaliation.

Many of those working in primary schools will also be joining us in a live online lesson that we have developed with BBC Teach. Taking place on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week at 11am (Monday, November 14) you can view the lesson on BBC Teach or watch on CBBC as part of the Bitesize Learning Zone.

And of course, older children will be lighting up social media with their impassioned pleas to make bullying a thing of the past. We hope others will join in across different platforms using the hashtags #AntiBullyingWeek and #ReachOut.

To get the party started we have created some videos, including one aimed at secondary pupils, which we will share far and wide as Anti-Bullying Week kicks off. Look out too for Odd Socks Day on the first day of the campaign (when children, adults and pets celebrate diversity by donning odd socks).

I will leave you with some tips for children being bullied, or for those who know someone who is…

  • Tell someone you trust.
  • Keep a record of what happened and when.
  • Don’t retaliate – you could get into trouble.
  • Surround yourself with people that make you feel good.
  • Don’t blame yourself – bullying is never your fault.
  • Be proud of yourself and your individuality.

  • Martha Evans is director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, part of the National Children’s Bureau.

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