What is anti-bullying week?
This week, from 14th to 18th November, we join thousands of schools and academies across the country to mark Anti-Bullying Week. This annual campaign calls us to raise awareness about the bullying of children and young people, highlighting the ways we can prevent and respond to it.
Anti-Bullying Week is organised by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), a coalition of more than 100 organisations and individuals, united by their mission to stop bullying and create safer environments in which children can flourish.
What is the theme this year?
This year, the theme of Anti-Bullying Week is Reach Out, which aims to empower children to seek out support from someone they trust and extend a helping hand to others.
As adults, we are also reminded of the importance of reflecting on our own behaviours and setting a positive example for young people. Whether it’s at school, at home, or within the community, we all have a responsibility to reach out and stop bullying.
Why is anti-bullying week important?
According to research, bullying is a problem facing many children across the UK. A quarter of young people report that they are bullied a lot or always; the most vulnerable are disadvantaged children and those with SEND. This has a huge impact on children’s learning experience, as they feel less safe in school and have poorer relationships with teachers. As a result, more than 20% of children who are bullied daily have truanted within the last twelve months – three times as many as those who are not bullied.
But by taking steps to create an anti-bullying culture across your school, promoting kindness, consideration, and respect for others, you can make a huge difference to the lives of children and young people.
The importance of creating an anti-bullying culture at your school
Building a strong school community and ethos is the best approach to anti-bullying, ensuring that everyone – including pupils, teachers, support staff, parents, and governors – understands the role they can play to prevent bullying from happening in the first place, rather than relying on a punitive approach, when instances of bullying have already occurred.
Anti-bullying should be seen as the collective responsibility of the community, rather than the fault of any one individual. This means that anti-bullying policies should be clear and visible – not just for pupils, but also to remind adults of their duty to model positive behaviours and relationships, whilst encouraging children’s development of socioemotional skills, such as conflict resolution, problem-solving and empathy for others.
When bullying does take place, schools must have a clear reporting and response strategy to prevent pupils from self-excluding. Evidence shows that restorative approaches are the most effective, focused on creating opportunities for dialogue and repairing the harm that has been done.
Senior leadership, pupil and parent voice should thread throughout the process. As a community that shares a common goal – the idea of working with people instead of doing things to them – pupils, parents and teachers can effectively seek out positive alternatives to punitive solutions and respond to bullying in a way that is clear, understood and endorsed by all.
How can your school get involved with anti-bullying week?
As always, Anti-Bullying Week kicks off with Odd Socks Day, a chance to celebrate what makes us all unique. We saw lots of bold fashion choices on Monday, as pupils and teachers showed off their weird and wonderful socks.
It’s been great to see so many schools taking part – but don’t let your anti-bullying celebrations end there. The ABA and other organisations have shared lots of ideas to help you promote anti-bullying throughout the whole week. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Give children different scenarios to help them recognise the indicators of bullying and discuss how they would respond. They can create comic strips to show how they would take action to stand up for others, resolve conflicts effectively and reach out for support when they need it.
Come up with statements about bullying, giving examples of what form it can take or what strategies we might use to deal with it. Then put your pupils into teams and get them to debate the statements.
With statements like “spreading rumours is a form of bullying,” or “telling the teachers makes things worse,” you can encourage pupils to explore the complex realities of bullying and address any misconceptions they may have. This is also a great way to help pupils develop their research, oracy and critical thinking skills.
Read a book that focuses on the issue of bullying together in class, prompting children to make inferences and predictions about how the characters may feel or react. Encourage children to explore the narrative from another character’s point of view by writing diary entries, letters, or putting on a play.
Books like The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Q. Rauf and Cloudbusting by Malorie Blackman explore bullying from the viewpoint of the bully, an important perspective which helps pupils understand bullying is never the fault of the victim.
Ensure that every child has someone to turn to by setting up a peer support scheme. Nominate pupils to act as Anti-Bullying Ambassadors and make sure they are trained in listening and giving advice, or know how to lead playground activities during lunch time. By encouraging pupils to look out for each other, you can create a safe and positive environment in which everyone is able to be themselves.
Take a look at what else your school can do with this fantastic resource:
We hope that your pupils enjoy the rest of Anti-Bullying Week, finding lots of new ideas to counter the harms of bullying and show kindness to one another.
Remember that bullying is not the problem of any single individual – it is our collective responsibility to recognise the signs, reach out for support, and find a resolution.
If we challenge it, we can change it.