This year, over 9,000 students aged 12-20 completed the 2018 edition of ‘The Annual Bullying Survey’. We surveyed over 14,000 young people and measured their experiences of bullying, whilst also uncovering what it’s really like to grow up in a digital world. The groundbreaking report unveils new statistics about the climate of bullying within the United Kingdom and provides an intimate portrayal of the impact social media and online identity is having on young people. If you are yet to read the report, click below to download it:
We have again decided to make our recommendations for parents/guardians, educators, policy makers and stakeholders completely digital. This allows us to link to, and include the latest resources and insights to bring us even closer to combatting bullying once and for all.
Appearance, Body Weight, Size or Shape Based Bullying
Appearance and weight-related bullying has impacted over half of young people and this can be damaging to their self-esteem, often with long-term impacts upon confidence and self-perception. As this is often a symptom of low self-esteem from the perpetrator, we recommend positive body confidence training for all students.
Body positive messages should be promoted widely throughout schools and colleges. Workshops with guest speakers to promote positive body image, campaigns featuring different, healthy body shapes and sizes and PSHE lessons on health issues such as anorexia and extreme dieting are some examples of positive measures you can take.
Interests and Hobbies Based Bullying
Interests & hobby derived bullying was the second greatest reason given for bullying; affecting over a third of students. It is important to provide the opportunity for a wide range of extracurricular activities and enrichment programmes that represent the interests of all of your students. Embracing events such as Black History Month, culture weeks, special days, LGB&T pride, talent shows, and school or media projects can be a great way to bring different demographics together and celebrate diversity.
Gender Stereotype Based Bullying
Bullying for not conforming to gender stereotypes affects a significant number of bullied students and continues to limit young people’s future ambitions and careers which in turn impacts upon equality and prejudice within wider society. Educating and engaging with young people about preconceived gender role ideas and stereotypes can help in ensuring they understand the limitations this puts on both genders; encourage debate which challenges preconceived gender roles. Males are more likely to bully than females because of the harmful gender norms attached to masculinity, so both males and females should be encouraged to take part in a range of activities, courses and positions of authority within schools and colleges.
Highlight societal role models who have actively gone against gender norms, especially within the career pathways they have chosen and ensure images displayed around school or college promote gender equality in a positive and authentic way.
Do not segregate genders within lessons or extracurricular activities; especially within sports, science, performing arts, PSHE, computing and business. Actively and widely promote the importance of individuality and allow students to self-identify. Gender-neutral facilities are, in addition, a positive way of removing gender barriers.
Bullying of Minority Groups
A large proportion of bullying is often prejudice based and due to attitudes towards a disability, race, culture, gender identity or sexual orientation. It is important to ensure that all minority groups are fully and positively represented, visible and that appropriate support services are made available and endorsed throughout educational establishments.
Dealing with those who bully
It is vital not to overlook the fact that many students who bully others do so as a coping mechanism for their own trauma and stressful situations that are not being addressed. It may be that the student has experienced a significant bereavement or there could be abuse in their home life. Try to compassionately understand a student who is bullying in order to find the source of the problem as we know that they are often experiencing adverse mental health issues. Responding with negativity and punishment may not be a strategy that meets the complex needs of all students; instead, take the opportunity to begin conversations that will help them find more positive ways to cope. It is progressive to avoid the villainisation of those who bully and we strongly advise studying the insights contained within our research reports (in particular The Annual Bullying Survey 2016) in order to proactively help all young people.
Of those who reported bullying a significant number experienced bullying online. It is essential that schools and colleges take cyberbullying seriously and treat it on the same level as other bullying issues and recognise that the amplified impact of being subjected to bullying in both offline and online environments can be profound. Teachers should proactively monitor the potential signs of cyberbullying as they can be less obvious than verbal or physical bullying in the classroom.
Education is key in arming all students with the knowledge of how to stay safe online and how to report offensive content; PSHE lessons and workshops are effective spaces for this but we would strongly recommend teaching Media Information Literacy / Digital Citizenship so that students have the resources and resilience to cope if they are affected and feel able to reach out for support if they need it.
Please do get in touch or check the website for our resources which are updated to reflect the changing nature of social media and online trends. For further reading, visit the Cyberbullying Hub
Mediation and Restorative Justice Techniques
Although zero tolerance policies may be appropriate at times, we strongly suggest that schools and colleges utilise mediation and restorative justice techniques wherever possible. Mediation can be highly effective in rebuilding friendships where bullying has occurred as a result of a fall-out between friends or peer groups. It encourages understanding and creates empathy for the person being bullied and can prevent those involved from engaging in bullying behaviour again.
Other restorative justice techniques such as conflict resolution can be effective in enabling the person bullying to reflect on their behaviour and challenge their views and actions. It can further be a useful space for them to open up about any issues they may be facing.
Reporting to Teachers and Family
Teachers and families were equally the first and most turned-to source of support for students. With over half left feeling dissatisfied with the response from teachers this is an area that needs addressing. It is essential that faculty are regularly trained in bullying protocol and are approachable, proactive and fully aware of your anti-bullying procedures and how best to support students.
Furthermore, that all approaches are school-wide and include lunch staff and caretakers who may often see behaviours that can be missed in class settings. With a far higher satisfaction rate when reporting bullying to family, it is vital to keep an open dialogue of consultations between teachers and parents/guardians so parents feel able to express or raise any concerns and work together with schools and colleges to solve any issues. This collaborative approach should begin to reduce the numbers of students skipping school and being negatively affected by issues such as depression due to bullying.
Young people are increasingly turning to the internet for advice and support. At Ditch the Label, we provide the largest online support service for those who are either being bullied, have witnessed bullying or are bullying others. Support is confidential, innovative and empowering.
Please feel free to signpost your students to our website.
For Parents / Guardians
In addition to the recommendations below, we have new guides and support materials written specifically for parents and guardians which are freely available here.
First and foremost, we advise parents to build open and honest relationships with their children so that they already know they can talk to you about any issues that may be troubling them and create a home place culture that is inclusive and allows for freedom of expression. It is important they feel comfortable approaching parents for help as it can be daunting for young people to speak about their experience as they may be embarrassed, or even afraid of the potential repercussions of doing so.
Familiarise yourself with common warning signs that they may project if they are being bullied, these can often include a low mood, loss in appetite, a desire for isolation and sudden changes in behaviour; many of which that have been identified in this report. If a child is being bullied, families must familiarise themselves with the school’s anti-bullying procedures, contact the school and follow up with what action is being taken and further, ensure your child is fully involved in all actions and decisions when working with school so they feel heard, supported and are more able to learn tools and techniques in order to cope and thrive. We also strongly recommend that parents familiarise themselves with social media platforms such as social networking sites and apps that are popular with young people in order to advise them on how to report content or bullying.
Young people often tell us they do not think their parents will understand, or take cyberbullying seriously so it is crucial to be aware of the severe consequences of bullying. For more information please visit the dedicated Parents and Guardians area which can be accessed by clicking on ‘For Parents’ at the bottom of our website at DitchtheLabel.org. You will find full information on how to spot bullying, how best to help and detailed advice on reporting bullying.
Suggested reading for parents/carers:
– Signs your Teen is being Bullied
– When Teachers Don’t Act
– Top Ten Tips for Parents: How to talk to your son
– Sue Atkins on Talking to your Teen about Body Image
[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/recommendations-for-teens.jpg” alt=”annual bullying survey”]
It is important for anybody who is being, or has been bullied to firstly understand that it is not their fault. The person doing the bullying is likely going through a difficult time or is projecting their low self-esteem onto others. It is always important to be vocal about bullying by reporting it or by talking about it with a friend, family member or one of our mentors at Ditch the Label.
Certain types of bullying are considered to be hate crimes and can be reported to the Police, based on severity. We always advocate more holistic approaches to tackling bullying and we have advice and support materials available on our website for those who may want to consider speaking to the person bullying them, or to better understand the psychology of those who bully.
Sometimes, bullying can have extreme impacts on those who experience it; especially if it is over a prolonged period of time. In cases of self-harm or suicidal thoughts, it is important to speak to an adult or trained professional as soon as possible. We recommend the Samaritans (116 123) and Childline (0800 11 11).
Further help and support is available to anyone who has been, or is, experiencing bullying, including those who witness bullying or are bullying others, via our website at DitchtheLabel.org – talk to us today.