Being bullied can be damaging at any age, whether in the playground, at college or in the workplace. More recently, cyberbullying has become a cause for concern, particularly among young people (see our blog on How to stay safe online).
As a result, schools and other organisations have developed anti-bullying policies and many sign up to Anti-Bullying Week – an initiative that takes place annually in the UK in November.
Anti-Bullying Week is coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance; dates for 2016 are 14-18 November.
What is the definition of bullying?
Bullying can range from teasing and spreading rumours to physical attacks.
According to the government’s information website, https://www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school, bullying is usually defined as behaviour that is:
- intended to hurt someone either physically or emotionally
- often aimed at certain groups, eg because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation
While there is no legal definition of bullying, some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. Gov.uk lists these as including:
- violence or assault
- repeated harassment or intimidation, eg name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
- hate crimes
Some incidences of bullying should be reported to the authorities under the guidelines of the government’s Prevent initiative (see our blog on: What is Prevent and why does it exist?).
However, emotional bullying can be as detrimental as physical bullying (see our blog on An Introduction to Safeguarding).
What are the aims of Anti-Bullying Week?
The key aims as listed on the Anti-Bullying Alliance website are:
- To empower children and young people to make a noise about bullying – whether it is happening to them or to someone else, face to face or online;
- To help parents and carers have conversations with their children about bullying – both as a way of preventing bullying, and to help children who are worried about bullying;
- To encourage ‘talking schools’ where all children and young people are given a safe space to discuss bullying and other issues that affect their lives, and are supported to report all forms of bullying;
- To equip teachers to respond effectively when children tell them they’re being bullied; and
- To raise awareness of the impact of bullying on children’s lives if they don’t tell anyone it’s happening – or if they are not given appropriate support – with a focus on the impact on mental health.
Every year the campaign has a theme; in previous years this has included cyberbullying and the impact of bullying on aspiration – this year it is “Power for good”.
The theme was chosen to support children and young people to use their Power for Good – by understanding the ways in which they are powerful and encouraging individual and collective action to stop bullying and create the best world possible..
How can organisations and individuals get involved with Anti-Bullying Week?
There are a range of ways to get involved, from emailing your MP for support to posting on social media and purchasing official posters, stickers and wristbands.
Teachers can plan awareness-raising events, fundraise for the Anti-Bullying Alliance and download tips, lesson plans and ideas for assemblies.
While the initiative takes place over one week, the aim is to raise awareness and support teachers in preventing and responding to bullying all year round.
For more information
You can download a campaign pack from the Anti-Bullying Alliance website: http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk; other websites with information include: http://www.bullying.co.uk, part of the Family Lives organisation, which offers online chat and a free helpline (0808 800 2222). Children can also call ChildLine any time on 0800 1111. You can also find and post information on Twitter using the hashtag #antibullyingweek.