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Do young people really know what to do if they are being bullied?

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.

Stella James

Sadly, terrorism is rarely out of the news.

The horrific attack in Christchurch is a stark and tragic reminder of the worldwide threat of terrorism and the increasing danger of extreme right wing violence.  I attended a vigil outside Leicester’s largest mosque, Masjid Umar, in the wake of the atrocity and whilst the solidarity and sympathy expressed by people from all faiths and backgrounds was humbling, it was clear that even though Christchurch is on the other side of the world, the horror and sense of loss has been keenly felt by local communities here in the UK.

Sadly, terrorism is rarely out of the news.  The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) assesses that the current threat in the UK is “severe,” meaning that a terrorist attack is “highly likely.”  Numerous terrorist plots have been thwarted in recent years.   And whilst around 80% of the 700 live terrorist investigations taking place right now relate to Islamist-inspired violence, other forms of extremism are growing, as evidenced by a 36% spike in radical right-related referrals to Prevent, the safeguarding duty that protects vulnerable individuals from radicalisation.

Against this backdrop it is incumbent upon us to do what we can to safeguard our children and young people from extremism.  We may live in one of the safest countries in the world and it may seem that terrorism is a distant threat, far removed from our schools, but we cannot be complacent, and it is helpful to consider an attitude of “it can happen here.”  I say this because we needn’t look far to find chilling examples of how our youngest and most vulnerable can be at risk.

Consider the extremist who attempted to create a “child army” of terrorists by attempting to groom over one hundred children aged between 11 and 14.  Or the pharmacist sentenced to prison for showing ISIS/Daesh beheading videos to children of primary school age.  The UK’s Counter Extremism Commissioner notes that many young children are spouting far-right, racist, xenophobic points of view, often coming from their parents.

As a practitioner who has worked in Prevent since 2013, I have personally dealt with many cases of young people who were at risk of extremism and who received support and intervention that guided them to safety.  I recall a 15 year old who threatened violence and spoke openly about his racist views, stating that white people were a 100% pure master race, and that a race war was on the horizon.  I worked with a teenager who stated that he felt obliged to travel to Syria and fight because it was his religious duty.  He said that one of the killers of Fusillier Lee Rigby in Woolwich was his “brother in Islam.”

What would you do if you heard those views within your setting?

Since 2015 schools and childcare providers have had a legal duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into extremism.  But I passionately believe that we also have a moral duty to protect our children.  That is why I have helped to create a Prevent CPD with Gooseberry Planet.  Based on my practical experience and expertise we have developed an accessible programme that will empower education professionals with the confidence and knowledge to approach radicalisation and extremism in an effective and responsible way.

The education sector is the biggest source of referrals to Prevent and there is widespread acceptance that it should be understood as part of wider safeguarding responsibilities.  It is vital that we all play out part in keeping our children and communities safe.

Copyright in education

When I first thought of putting together a Copyright webinar and training material for our Gooseberry Gurus, I was under the impression that I would struggle to talk for 30 minutes.  I even contemplated adding information about Fake News to try and pad things out.  All I can say is that I had no idea how complex the copyright laws were! 

I then started to ask my son about his awareness of the legal aspects of using songs on YouTube videos.  He had no idea, and I don’t think that he is any different from most children.  It seems to me that it is important that we educate children about this, both so that they appreciate the reason these laws exist and so that they don’t fall foul of the law.    My son is a keen scooter rider and his whole group love to create videos of their days out at skate parks.  He was pleased to know that he owns the copyright in any videos that he creates and that he could potentially stop other people using them.  Understanding that the law can benefit him gives him an understanding of why the law is there to protect others, especially professional singers, film makers etc who spend significant sums creating entertainment for us, protected by the ability to reap the financial reward.  Piracy is quite a big problem for them and there are serious penalties for those who break the law. 

Most young people are either watching or creating content on service providers such as YouTube.  I suspect quite a lot of them unwittingly breach the copyright laws and get caught out by the ‘Content ID’ software which scans uploaded content against a database of files in order to identify copyright material.  If identified, the copyright owner is notified and can choose whether to Block, monetise or track the upload.  If a user is regularly breaching copyright it could affect their reputation and potentially lead to prosecution.

There is an opportunity for schools to use video production as part of lessons.  Look at our Gooseberry Alert suggestion that children research an aspect of copyright law and produce a video about it.  Why not encourage the children to identify their creations with the date and copyright symbol and upload them to YouTube or another platform. 

The next issue is, do you and your staff know the laws?  (On the 25th March we have a webinar covering this area and if you are a Gooseberry Guru you get the link to share with your school community.)    Learn about the “fair use” exceptions for private study, research, reporting current events and creating parody.  Learn about the special provisions for educational establishments and how to get permission to use copyright materials.

Copyright is not specifically mentioned in the Computing Curriculum, or in PSHE, but it does come under the UKCISS Framework.  I feel that if a child could potentially get a fine or criminal record for doing something that many young people do, surely, we should be educating them about it.  It also ties neatly into a discussion about plagiarism in school work – perhaps not such a big issue in primary school but a real issue in secondary and at university.