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 olds 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