It’s time to reach out this Anti-Bullying Week

Today (14 November), Anti-Bullying Week kicks off with Odd Socks Day. To mark the awareness event, we sat down with the director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, Martha Evans, to learn more about the importance of the week and finding solutions.

 Why is Anti-Bullying Week so important? 

Anti-Bullying Week gives schools a chance to raise awareness of bullying and to listen to the voices of young people. It’s a chance for them to improve their practice, to talk about the solutions. We know about a quarter of all children experience bullying frequently: that has a massive impact on their life chances because they might miss school or feel excluded, and it’s a big strain on mental health. We know the impacts can last well into adulthood. Adults who are bullied as children are more likely to experience major mental health issues, to earn less money and to not be in employment, education or training. 

How did you come up with this year’s theme, Reach Out? 

We develop the theme with young people every year. We’re saying that it doesn’t have to be this way and we can address it by reaching out whether you’re at school or its online. If you’re being bullied, seeing it happening or you are the bully, it’s important to talk to someone you trust. 

Why is the week particularly important for children with a disability? 

We know that disabled children are more likely to experience bullying than others unfortunately. We’ve got some new resources on our website around autism and bullying in particular and we have things like easy read definitions. We also have a programme called United Against Bullying which is available free to all schools in England and that programme focuses on a list of disabilities and when bullying tends to take place. 

How can we start to reduce bullying behaviour in schools? 

We often find that school’s responses are focussed on changing the behaviour of the disabled person being bullied, like helping them to make friends or changing where they go over the course of the school day, but that sends the wrong message to young people. We have to think about how we can get the behaviour to stop rather than the response. We have two online CPD courses which are free for anybody to take part in and focus specifically on disability and bullying. 

We need to establish school cultures where we celebrate everyone’s differences, and teach kindness and respect for everybody, not just kindness and respect for your friends only. 

Do you have any advice for parents and carers of children who are experiencing bullying? 

It can make you so upset and angry, it’s such a difficult thing to go through as a parent. The first thing to do is listen to them and reassure them that coming to you was the right thing to do. Stay calm and try not to encourage them to retaliate, ask your child what they want to do next, whether they want to speak to the school together or try a different tactic. Think about discussing the situation with your child’s teacher and make sure that you keep a log of the situation. Then, find ways to grow your child’s confidence because it can feel quite isolating. Find things they’re passionate about and see if they can connect with people through that. 

Get the latest news and interviews by following Enable on social media: TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Accessibility Tools

Discover more from Enable Magazine

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading