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What can teachers do to help their pupils speak up about bullying?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    It’s Anti-Bullying Week 2015 and an education consultant at the NSPCC writes about what role teachers can play to help stop bullying and how they can teach children right from wrong:


    What are your views on this?

    What measures/tactics/policies have been employed in your school to tackle this issue and do you think these are effective?

    If a child is too scared to speak out against a bully what more can a teacher do if the bullying behaviour is not seen first hand?
  2. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Stop measuring bullying... seriously.

    In my old pastoral role we had to record all incidents of bullying and we were measured on it. So the lower our bullying was the better ~ yes that's a stupid conclusion but ... just how it was.

    Therefore there was a top-down pressure to lower bullying rates. But kids were still being bullied... we just reclassified incidents. Still dealt with them as best we could but SLT weren't interested in the bullying, only in the lowering of their statistics.
    nearmiss likes this.
  3. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    The first thing to establish is what one means by 'bullying'.

    For example, bullying could be defined as an abuse of power in which an individual, or group, deliberately try to hurt, threaten or intimidate others. Whilst a single incident could be sufficiently serious to qualify as bullying, it usually involves a pattern of behaviour over a period of time.

    Unfortunately, with young children, it is not unusual to hear them say they are being 'bullied' when what they really mean is that they have been fighting. After careful investigation of all the facts, it turns out that they are, either, equally responsible for the fight or, sometimes, they are the one who started the fight in the first place; they're not happy because they didn't win.

    In addition, parents are not always prepared to accept that their child could be fully, or even partially, responsible for a fight, or for actual bullying.

    It is sometimes useful to ask them: 'Do you ever fight at home? Do you ever squabble or call each other names? Do you ever have shouting matches and slam doors? Does that ever happen in your homes?'

    If they're honest they'll say: 'Well, of course, that sort of thing happens in families from time to time.'

    So, does that mean your families are full of 'bullies'? No, they'll usually say, that's not bullying - that's just part of growing up in a family; from time to time you squabble and fall out - which is fair comment.

    Unfortunately, children then come to school and, instead of just mixing with one or two siblings and parents, they then have to mix, and get on with, perhaps hundreds of other pupils. If they behave in the same way as they behave at home - nothing more, nothing less - why do we call it 'bullying'? If it wasn't classified as bullying at home, why does it constitute bullying if it occurs in school?

    The short answer is that 'bullies' are almost always other people's children and parents very rarely accept that their child could be anything other than an innocent party.

    From a school point of view, the only sensible approach is to thoroughly investigate, and carefully record, any allegations of 'bullying' that are brought to the attention of staff. From my experience over the last forty years, it is surprising just how often a child's version of events can be incomplete; most of the time, there are two sides to any story and there is nothing worse than someone using the issue of 'bullying' to try to bully someone else's child.

    It does, of course, take up a great deal of school time to get at the truth, and deal with the issues, and there is no guarantee that all parties will agree that a school has acted, fairly and impartially, in the best interest of all children.

    In short, children fight and squabble from time to time, whether at home or in school; it's part of growing up and it shouldn't be confused with the much more serious issue of bullying which usually involves an abuse of power.

    Of course, one doesn't have to look very far to identify examples of abuse of power, and bullying, in schools that don't involve pupils, but that is another matter.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015

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