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Setting an example

 

Setting an example

With the huge rise of online bullying and with Anti Bullying week, on the theme of “Choose Respect”, commencing 12 November, we need to think about why so many children treat each other with little respect.

It is interesting to see the recently conducted survey by the Anti Bullying Alliance.  Their research talks about the worrying numbers of children (41% of 11-16 year olds) who had seen adults bullying each other in the past 6 months – 21% face-to-face, 18% online and 20% in the media.  Not only do children recognise that this sets a bad example, but the report shows 97% s would like to see more respect shown between adults.

I have been talking for quite some time about adults embracing positive behaviour and how, if we change this, it could reduce the number of children being bullied.  I am starting to believe that, if we started with the grownups, we really could make a difference.  I see frequent posts on social media speaking about people in a negative way.  I have seen posts calling people “selfish” for parking their car incorrectly; another calling a person an “idiot” for jumping in front of a train and causing mayhem with transport.  When our children are being bullied, parents post their frustration online, which I do understand, but this is contradicting the very advice we give children at school; telling them not to respond or retaliate to bullying.

Have we lost the ability to feel compassion and think about why people might act in certain ways?  Are we becoming a nation of opinionated campaigners who can’t tolerate an opposing viewpoint or debate an issue without throwing insults?  I do believe this strongly and I regularly talk about this subject in my workshops.  Adults are worse than children when it comes to posting online.  It is no wonder that children have little respect for each other when, in fact, they are just mirroring behaviour that they have learnt from the adults around them.

 

We all have a responsibility to help

 

Did you put Anti Bullying Week in your diary?  Have you made plans yet?

We all have a responsibility to help both the child that is being bullied and the bully.  How the school responds is key, and can make such a difference to all parties that are involved.  I hear so many stories from both parents and Schools where children could have been supported in a better way.  Just because your member of staff has read KCSIE or the Anti Bullying Policy, it doesn’t mean they have understood or even know how to deal with it.  This subject is too complex for just a tick in the box.

Only the other day I was speaking with a school concerning a vulnerable child and the Safeguarding Lead’s response was “We have 500 children to deal with in the school and cannot focus on one child”.  Wrong Answer??   You can imagine my response.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing schools that are so on top of this topic.  Only yesterday, I was with the Head of Education for 15 Schools and it was so refreshing to listen to how sensitively they deal with issues across the board, not just bullying, but grooming and sexting too.

According to research from UKIE, 64% of 12-13 year old’s didn’t know who to talk to about being bullied.  I know from my own personal experience that I never told my Mum that I was being bullied at school; it went on for 3 years.   Could we be doing more and do we have the right mechanisms in place to respond?  Just make sure that the way you respond to incidents is the same as your anti-bullying policy.

I am sure your school has it covered and that your policies are in place but most importantly we need to support both students.  Sometimes we focus so much on the person that is being bullied but fail to also consider the bully and why they are behaving that way.  What’s going on in their life? What’s going on at home? Is their bullying a sign of inadequacy masquerading as strength?  Are they being bullied themselves?  Are they seeking to impress their peer group by bullying a weaker student?  Can we change the attitude of their peers to remove the incentive for bullying?  I know there is no easy fix, but maybe if we focused on the cause, (why the bully bullies) and the wider peer group, as well as supporting the victim, we might have a bigger impact.

Our latest Alert is advice for the whole school community, feel free to share with your parents.  To access the resource login or register it will only take a few seconds of your time.

We are very pleased to say that we have created a great partnership with Kidscape.  We are supporting the charity and helping to launch their Friendship Friday theme kidscape.org.uk/friendshipfriday.  There are FREE PDFs for Primary Schools  with advice for schools, Parents and children.

If you have any questions or queries please feel free to call.

Gooseberry Planet & Kidscape

Sitting in my kitchen a few years ago with my sister discussing how much her children were online and her challenges of trying to reduce the amount of time her boys were spending on a screen.  Trying to talk to our 2 boys about the risks involved were ignored and dismissed.  Like most parents we all have challenges with our children thinking we know nothing about the world of being.  My eldest son was off to secondary school and so desperately wanted a smartphone. He had a flip phone, which did the job perfectly, but not what he wanted to take to school.  My youngest was just working out iPads and laptop but still too young for phones.  Like most young adults, he didn’t think I knew anything about being online.  I did try the talks and then resorted to Google to try and find something that I thought realistically a 12-year-old would engage with.  I found a large amount of information for me as an adult and very little for him.  There were bits, but the level of content was far too young for him.

Gooseberry Planet was born out of my own frustration of not being able to find anything suitable for my sons and to help parents like my sister, who struggle with the digital divide.  I wanted to create something for the whole school community.  I don’t believe that it is solely the school’s responsibility, I feel that it is all our responsibility. I knew my children loved playing games so why not create an education tool using gamification.  It was quite literally a light bulb moment and the concept was born. The games that we have produced are conversation starters. The children love Taff, collecting stars and scoring points, but it also helps teachers create a conversation without rolling eyes and “here we go again, online safety”. Being a parent myself, I know how hard it is to stay up to date with the latest trends, this is what drives me.  I want parents and teachers to be armed with all the tools.  I have so many friends that struggle with the digital divide and it became my mission to help both teachers and parents as well as the students.

I wanted to make sure that schools have a complete toolkit and to cover the areas that are most difficult to talk about which include grooming, sexually exploited and bullying.

Bullying is very close to my heart. I was bullied badly for 3 years of my secondary school life, I never told my Mum and I kept it quiet.  For me it wasn’t too bad. At the end of the school day I went home and could shut the doors on my life at school.  I was safe, I was at home.  I feel for young people of today there is no escape being online is one of the most important aspects of young person life and no matter what us adults say this is their way of communicating.  We need to support and educate young people in blocking and talking to someone.  I am so please that we are working with Kidscape, one of the longest establish Anti Bullying Charities in the UK.  It means we can both reach as many children as possible and help support families that might be experiencing being bullied.

I am incredible passionate about what I do and broadening conversations around online safety and protecting young children online.

If Gooseberry Planet can save one child from being bullied, groomed or sexually exploited, then it has achieved my goal