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If I cast my mind back to when I was at school, bullying persisted then, as it does now. It’s not a new issue, that’s for sure.  

As a child who struggled to keep his weight down, I frequently suffered bullying in lots of scenarios, not just in school, such as at the local Youth Club, on the street, in the Scouts… It was something which, to this day, even all these decades on, still gives me upset and anxiety. The effects of bullying can be long lasting. 

So why does bullying happen? 

Sometimes bullying happens because a student is different or because they are academically bright or popular… The causes can be wide-ranging from race, disabilities, religion, height, weight, or essentially anything that draws a spotlight to a difference between one child and others.  

Sometimes the act of bullying can highlight issues that the bully has themselves. It could be a call for attention or a reflection of them being unhappy, masking feelings of them feeling unloved or unwanted by seeking of power over another.  

The act of bullying can be an effort to try – sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously – to help them feel powerful in a world where they don’t. Often, bullies struggle to understand the impact of their bullying on others.  

Sometimes bullying happens as a reflection of a child trying to fit in, too. In the society of a school, social norms exist and teachers and other adults in the wider circle of the school, parents included, exemplify what those norms should be.  

Students who stand out from their peers as being different are usually more likely to be the victims of bullying. Students can sometimes use bullying as a means of enforcing or highlighting the need to conform to these social norms.   

What can we do about bullying? 

If you search online for posts about bullying, often the advice is to ensure that you talk to an adult such as a parent, or a trusted person such as a teacher, youth group leader or other relevant adult.  

This can be helpful, but the truth is, there is no one single successful approach to addressing bullying.  

With bullying being a multi-generational issue that all have encountered at some stage in their lives, one thing we must do is to not sweep it under the carpet. We should all have our eyes and ears open to watch out for bullying behaviours, particularly given the lifelong impacts that it can have on a person and their mental health and wellbeing.  

One great initiative to help keep bullying high on the agenda as part of the school calendar is ‘Anti-Bullying Week’ taking place from 15–19th November this year.  

Remembering that bullying is something to be mindful of 24/7/365, not just on a special week, Anti-Bullying Alliance shares lots of resources to help support schools and it also offers free training courses. 

What about bullying online? 

It’s important to remember that in this modern age with communication and social spaces extending into the virtual world, bullying can happen anywhere. With bullying online, there can also be legal ramifications for bullies, as highlighted in the following UK legislation: 

Schools have statutory duties to ensure that children are safe when in school, so DSLs (Designated Safeguarding Leads) have even more to think about in virtual spaces, not just those physical spaces where bullying can happen.  

Tools such as our classroom.cloud and NetSupport DNA can help massively with the DSL’s work into monitoring chats and work activities with our built-in safeguarding tools. These tools monitor keywords entered by young people into devices – so, from Teams chats to anything typed into a text field on a school-based device, our software can help identify trending keywords and flag issues for DSLs to assist them in tackling bullying in school.  

The places and spaces where young people can find themselves online and at potential risk can change on an almost daily basis. In a recent panel debate, Emma Hardy, Communications Director at the Internet Watch Foundation, shared some alarming figures on this topic. Thankfully though, as part of the same session with other industry experts such as the ‘E-Safety Adviser’ (Alan Mackenzie) and Traci Good of the i-vengers, lots of great resources to help young people, teachers and parents were shared.  

To watch back the helpful debate, please visit here and check out the following fantastic resources the panellists shared during the session.

Further reading

Resources for parents and carers

Resources for Safeguarding Leads 

Other useful resources