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As 2014 sees Bullying UK celebrate its 15th anniversary, a new national survey from the charity finds below that despite a myriad of initiatives, bullying continues to impact on the wellbeing of pupils, parents and professionals.
Whilst recent efforts have focused on the pernicious effects of open and anonymous ‘cyber-bullying’; confrontational and physical bullying remains a major issue. The survey found:
Whilst 82% of education professional respondents stated they deliver lessons on bullying (mainly during PSHE lessons):
Whilst 30% of teachers felt restorative justice was the most effective anti-bullying method. Parent respondents reported that:
The general consensus may be to encourage bullied pupils to inform their teacher, however BullyingUK found that:
There remains a reluctance also amongst some pupils to inform the school or their teachers. Pupil respondents told us:
"Just because you tell a teacher doesn’t mean they sort the problems out, yes the bully may get into trouble or excluded, but it doesn’t mean they won’t bully again. i told the head teacher too so they took me seriously…"
"I kept coming home with injuries and bruises, not wanting to go to school, my parents were really distressed I was only aged 5-7 at the time so they complained and spoke with teachers on behalf - mum and dad got me a (helpline) advisor… which really helped :)"
Some of the emotions derived from bullying included depression, anger and low self-esteem. One student stated:
"Bullying is the bane of my existence, and even to this day, although it doesn't go on constantly, people still make comments, and inside, I still feel a constant sadness that no cartoon, or treat, or experience will ever replace. I don't even speak about it because I know if I did, I would become involved in cutting myself and alcoholism, and definitely into tears."
Whilst the focus is rightly centred on protecting pupils within the school environment. One respondent stressed the importance of addressing student-on-teacher bullying. They said:
"Student to teacher bullying is often never covered or mentioned as part of school bullying policies. I believe this is an area that has to be seriously looked into. Teachers are often abused by students with name calling, appearance, inappropriate comments like MILF and cougar. Men who may have a certain look as a ‘Paedo’ etc. I have seen these comments in places like ratemyteacher and facebook pages. Homosexual derogatory comments for perceived sexuality and orientation of teachers, especially stereotypes of PE teachers and female teachers with short hair. The list is endless. I do not understand how teachers are not protected by anti-bullying policies for student on teacher abuse."
Teachers who responded flagged up issues regarding discipline, with respondents stating:
"The sad thing is that we all know this goes on, we have no powers as teachers, but as a human being I try to instil in my students the effects bullying has had on people including myself as a youngster. There does not seem to be any consequences for their actions so they continue to bully. They get away with far more outside the classroom and bullying to them is just all in a 'Normal day' for them."
"Schools are becoming under so much pressure due to financial restraints and reduced staff. This is leading to an increase in behavioural management issues and bullying is on the increase. The pastoral unit has seen a massive decrease in staff so an important issue like bullying is more often than not being put on the back burner."
“Young people may live their lives vicariously through the virtual world, but our survey highlights that ‘real-world’ bullying continues to occur during lunch and break times, to and from school and in corridors. 35% of teaching and school staff told us that they have seen bullying on multiple occasions every month. We must also however address classroom discipline and ensure education professionals are protected from physical, verbal or online abuse. It’s vital that parents and teachers regularly engage with one another to ensure children in their care can learn in a safe and supportive environment.”
Parents or education professionals concerned about bullying can call Family Lives’ free 24 hour helpline on 0808 800 2222 or visit www.bullying.co.uk for confidential and non-judgemental support.
For media enquiries, contact Family Lives’ Press Office on firstname.lastname@example.org
2067 responded to Bullying UK’s online survey which comprised:. 1188 Children and young people, 649 Parents and carers, 230 Teachers and schools