LAST week (November 14-18) was Anti-Bullying Week in the UK. During this week schools and colleges were encouraged to raise awareness and take a stand against bullying, through fundraising, education and training.
Anti-Bullying Week is coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) which is made up of multiple organisations working together to eradicate bullying and create secure environments for young people to learn and live in.
The ABA defines bullying as: “The repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power.”
The ABA aims to show that as individuals we all have the potential to help wipe out bullying.
They want young people to use their individual power for good to make a real positive difference to the world by promoting and creating safe environments.
The theme for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week was ‘Power for Good’.
Bullying is an issue that many people will face at some point in their life, particularly when they are young and it can have a far-reaching impact on them.
On their website, the NSPCC states that more than 16,000 school absences are the result of bullying.
Emily Lewis, 24, a teaching assistant, who was a victim of bullying at secondary school, said that the abuse she faced included: “social isolation and exclusion, ridicule, belittling, nasty comments and damaging of property.”
These incidents of bullying impacted on her “mental” and “emotional” state.
Miss Lewis added: “Many people are not aware of just how many types of bullying there are and the effects it can have.”
The rise of technology in the 21st century for example, has increased the forms that bullying can take, with many people now being victims of cyber-bullying.
And with bullying taking so many forms it is crucial that people are talking about it, and that young people know exactly what does constitute as bullying so that they do not suffer in silence.
Miss Lewis informed the school about the bullying she was facing.
Her school responded by giving talks on the effects of bullying and the bullies were threatened with exclusion and their parents were informed.
Even though I feel schools do a lot I don’t think enough is done. Real bullying is always going to occur unfortunately but it should not be tolerated at all in schools and dealt with effectively.”
Ryan Dobney, 22, who was a victim of racial abuse at secondary school, said: “The impact is massive. You take steps to try to avoid it, don’t want to go into school, and genuinely feel bad about yourself.”
Mr Dobney stressed the importance of speaking to someone in authority if you are being bullied and standing up against forms of discrimination such as the racism that he faced.
Katie Webster, 21, a teaching assistant, said: “I think anti-bullying week is really important and I’m glad it’s a full week rather than just a day as it shows children how severe the issue is.
“Not only should it encourage the victims to come forward but it should also encourage the bullies themselves to be honest about their mistakes.”
This raises a key point that, for the ABA to achieve their goal of eradicating bullying altogether, the bullies do not have to be vilified but rather, educated and informed about the severe impact that their actions can have.
Anti-bullying week is about everyone coming together and having a discussion about a real and important issue with a view to finding the solution.
More information about the ABA and their work for anti-bullying week can be found on their website here or on their twitter page (@ABAonline).