Bullying is any form of unacceptable treatment, or discrimination or behaviour intended to hurt or harm the reputation of another. It is sometimes described as 'abuse of power' but it is in fact a desire in the bully to control or harm another person. The reasons for this desire can be complex.
There are many reasons why kids bully other kids. A bully may be struggling with personal problems at home. The bullying behaviour may be the only way they know how to deal with a difficult situation in their personal life, such as parents divorcing, a death of a relative, abuse or humiliation of some sort in their life. This does not mean that bullying behaviour is OK. Sometimes, a bully will pick on someone because they are jealous or because they think that they will be seen as bigger and tougher' and it boosts their sad ego. For the bully, behaving in a bullying manner is seen as a way to win friends, but this is a myth. All forms of bullying and anti-social behaviour is unacceptable.
As each year passes we receive the same phone calls to the helpline from worried parents and distressed children asking for help to deal with bullying at their local school or collage. We are alarmed at the increase in death threats across the UK, suicide attempts amongst teenagers and an increase in on-line abuse through various social media forums.
This year during Ban Bullying week 2018, we will no doubt see a significant increase in calls to bullying charities and helplines due to media coverage. Raising awareness is always good and this year will be no exception. This gives us all the opportunity to raise awareness and think about how we can put a stop to bullying.
Typically, parents call a helpline because they feel their child’s school has been unhelpful, accepts no responsibility or simply does not believe them. Of course this does not apply to all schools but when a parent finds themselves in this position they need someone to listen to, bring some common sense to the table and advise them what to do. Despite the fact that most UK schools have an Anti-Bullying policy or mission statement – procedural guidelines are often non-existent. Government, including The Department for Education, Ofsted and Ministers, should be working to bring about change.
In the workplace we have dispute resolution procedures (The ACAS Code of Practice for example) but schools are left to their own devices. It is the current view of The Department of Education that Schools should put their own procedures in place. This is not good enough. Ofsted say they do not have the power to address bullying in schools,
A routine Ofsted inspection could involve a review of bullying statistics in every UK school. Ofsted could be asking how many bullying complaints have been raised and what outcomes and remedial action is taken. We need clearly communicated guidelines for both parents and schools. Every school should have a Safeguarding Officer who is held accountable for overseeing due process. This will free up the teachers who are currently having to deal with distressed parents. Parents will know how to set out their concerns in a constructive and professional manner and, importantly, will have some confidence knowing that they are being listened to.
A step by step guide
Is your child being bullied, is a guide written by the founder of the National Bullying Helpline designed to walk you through every step of the process and help you resolve the problems your child is facing.
This guide includes everything you need to know from setting expectations, the role of the school, how to escalate matters to detailed template letters to the school, Headmaster and Governors or Trustees.
Every day we hear from parents regarding a negative response they 'allege' they have received from their child's School. Obviously this does not apply to all Schools. However, more and more we hear of cases where parents are left feeling angry and frustrated with a School because all attempts to raise matters with the school have proved fruitless. Sometimes, the bullying incident(s) involving the child becomes secondary - as the relationship between the parent and the School breaks down completely. We have even heard from some parents that a School has labelled them 'paranoid'.
The parent wants to protect their child. The Teacher and School wants to protect their reputation. When both parties are at a point of self preservation it can be very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Naturally, all the parent wants is to protect their child and know that the School is listening. Whilst the School may have Anti-Bullying Policies, they do not always have the processes in place to support their Policy. They are also unlikely to have a member of staff who specialises in "Conflict Resolution". Teachers want to get on with teaching - they do not want to have to deal with an emotional, distressed, parent!
As a result, some parents may be left feeling desperately worried. Communications break down and the parent is left feeling unsupported - left in isolation to deal with the bullying issues and care for a frightened and anxious child too. All a parent wants is for the school to listen and take 'reasonable steps' to ensure their child is safe.
Meetings with teachers may be ineffective. The teacher may lack the skills to deal with conflict and these discussions are rarely recorded or minuted. However, if you write a formal letter to the School and address it to the Head of the School or the Governors, they have to store it in a file which is looked at by Ofsted Inspectors at which point the school may be asked to explain how they dealt with the situation. This is just one of many steps that can be taken to help resolve your bullying issues with a school.
For detailed steps to take including all the template letters you need to stop the bullying, download our guide for parents.
We will act if we believe and adult or child is at risk or in danger. We have a Service Agreement with Wiltshire Police, covering the UK, and we work closely with them in cases where an individual feels intimidated or threatened in any way. In an emergency you can contact the Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officer : North & West Wilts. Telephone: 01249 449766. We help people in distress in a practical, positive, timely, way and in some cases we will put callers in touch with professional service providers ; (ACAS, Solicitors, Mediators, Counsellors and other dispute resolution service providers etc).
If you believe that someone you know at school or work is at risk of self harm, violence or suicide, please call 999.
Parents, you have a role to play. Remember, the police can often trace the perpetrators. You need to check that your child is safe and that they take care. Check their sites and monitor their browsing and mail content periodically. Sit down and talk to your child about his or her concerns.
Criminal Charges may be brought under The Harassment Act and other legislation that is there to protect you and your child. Talk to your family and those who you trust. A problem shared is a problem halved ! If you ever come across anything on the internet that makes you feel uncomfortable, no matter where it is, pleas e report it. Be Cyber-Savvy in all your on-line activities. Teach your children how to be Cyber-Savvy. Being Cyber-Savvy is the new "Don't talk to strangers"
Read this out to your child
Don't give your name, age, address or contact details to strangers over the internet even if they sound really friendly and you have spoken to them lots of times. If you have never met them, don't fall for their charm.
A good person would never ask you to tell them personal information about yourself. If some over the internet or phone asks you for information, close the computer down or hang up the phone. Come and talk to me about it.
Don't tell people where you live or which school you go to. NEVER arrange to meet them. If a stranger asks you to meet them, see this as a warning sign and tell me or tell a grown up, a responsible person, about this.
Confide in someone you trust. If you call a helpline, the volunteer might ask you some basic questions but that is OK provided you telephoned the helpline and they did not phone you.
Do not give any confidential information to someone who calls you. If you are worried or scared, hang up and come and talk to us. Tell your friends or tell us if you are worried about anything. We can help you.
Also, change your log-in details regularly and change your passwords. When did you last change the password on your childs’ mobile phone or computer. Who did you tell? The only two people you should share your password details with are your mum or dad.
This is a true but somewhat drastic outcome where legal action was taken against a child bully in the UK.
A child aged 13 received compensation for having been abused and bullied at School. It is the first case of its kind.
A schoolboy from Maltby Comprehensive School near Rotherham, South Yorkshire was awarded a four figure sum in compensation following a spate of classroom bullying. Jed Winfindale, aged 13, was abused persistently. He was hit over the head several times with a wooden drawing board until he was so injured he was taken to hospital and later suffered flashbacks and nightmares. At the time, the only action the school were prepared to take was to suspend the bully for two days. Jed’s mother was not prepared to accept this as the boy was known for disruptive behaviour. He has now been removed from the school. Rotheram Council admitted liability for breach of statutory duty and negligence and agreed to the undisclosed pay-out. September 2011.
Bullying destroys lives and can have a devastating and lasting effect on someone subjected to constant abuse or harassment. Please like and share our Facebook page so we can reach a wider community of people potentially looking for help
I am so grateful to The National Bullying Helpline. My 13 year old boy was coming home regularly in tears but he didn’t want to talk about it at first. Then I noticed the bruises. I spoke to the school till I was blue in the face. I called this helpline and the lady was really helpful. I received the Guide and read it cover to cover and it helped me know what to do. Before, I couldn’t see a way forward. I was angry and upset but the Guide really helped. I think it is worth every penny because it made a difference to my son.
If you are you dealing with bullying in or outside school, at a social club or in the community? Are you a parent dealing with a distressed child who is being bullied right now? Here you will find help and ideas so that you can stop the bullying or at least know what to do to get immediate help and support.
eCrime is any form of Cyberbullying using technology. This includes trolling, mobbing, stalking, grooming or any form of abuse down the line.
Over half of the UK's 12 to 15 year olds have faced some form of bullying, including Cyberbullying over the last year. Research by the National Centre for Social Research found that 47% of young people reported being bullied at the age of 14. The same study showed that girls are more likely to be bullied, than boys, in that same age group.
Cyberbullying is most certainly on the increase - more and more cases are being reported to our helpline by children and by extremely worried parents.
We are focusing on this very serious issue and we are working closely with The Police, Facebook and other IT service providers, to work towards eliminating this unacceptable behavior. If you are a parent, take positive steps to protect your child when s/he uses a mobile phone or the computer. There is a great deal you can do to safeguard your child.
Not everyone accused of being a bully is necessarily a bully in our view. A bully can be very clever and will often want to point the finger at another person. This is not an uncommon strategy - form of defence. How to spot the genuine bullies from those who are accused (by others) of being a bully (typically by a perpetrator of bullying with a motive), can be extremely difficult.
First, it is important to remember - we all have rights and we all have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Do not judge others by what you are told but by what you believe yourself.
If you believe you are a bully however, we will go a very long way to help you, provided you seek help and want to change. A person who holds his/her hand up and says "I am a bully, help me" has our full support because, having already acknowledged that they are a bully - is a problem very largely solved. A person in this situation may need help too. Finding the courage to stand up and ask for help in this circumstance is commendable and should be encouraged.
An 8 year old boy said recently; "I know I am a bully and it makes me feel good to bully someone - but later on, before I go to sleep, I think about what I have done and I feel really sad and lonely". This 8 year old boy is crying out for help too. Proper guidance and expert counselling will help.
There may be underlying reasons for this behavior which only an expert mediator, or dispute resolution service provider, can understand and help resolve. Do not be afraid to put your hand up if you want professional help. Talk to someone you trust. Write down how you feel and show it to a responsible person. If you feel unable to discuss it with your parents or teaches, ask for a 1 on 1 meeting with your doctor, or an adult whom you trust, and tell him/her how you feel.
"I could not have done without your advice and help. I cannot express my thanks enough for your advice at a time when I thought I was going to take my life. Christine Pratt you are a great advisory, you know your stuff, may the Lord bless you and keep you and thank you so very very very much"
During 2017 there was a most disturbing, steep, rise in self-harm statistics among teenage girls, according to The BBC News. We have to ask whether some of these statistics are linked to bullying and to a condition The National Bullying Helpline is recognising in the UK called Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder.
Self-harm among young people aged 10 to 19 has risen since 2001. The study, which used reliable national databases to look at trends, reported a rate of self-harm at 37 per 10,000 girls and 12.3 per 10,000 boys in 2017. There were several other notable findings, including a 68% rise in rates of self-harm among girls aged 13 to 16 years, since 2011. Some cases involved use of drugs or alcohol and social divide – finding higher rates in more deprived areas. Disturbingly, the study did not explore the reasons behind these trends. We cannot ignore the possibility that many cases of self-harm go unreported. We have to ask whether bullying and exclusion and feelings of embitterment played a role in these desperately sad cases. Teenagers and young adults fear humiliation and are often reluctant to ask for help. Are these self-harm cases a cry for help or an expression of anger.
Embittered people are often angry with the world around them as a result of something significant that has hurt them and/or impacted on their view of others around them. Adults and children suffer with embitterment and a deep routed depression. Mediation and Counselling will not work as this category of patient will struggle to empathise as the believe others around them need to change, not them.
Our research into PTED addresses an approach called ‘Wisdom Therapy’ or Coaching – and a carefully structured technique which will encourage this category of mental health patient to look at the past differently and focus more on the future. It’s not quite as simple as it sounds. It will require extensive skills and patience and much more research needs to take place. However, we are optimistic about the future.
If your child is being abused or bullied at school and you fear the school is not taking satisfactory action, write to your local authority and remind them that they have a ‘statutory duty’ to ensure all children in their schools are safe at all times.
For more information including template letters to your school and local authority, see our guide for parents, "Is your child being bullied
* Call Charges: 0845 calls are charged at circa 7p per minute plus your Telecom providers access charges. We do not receive revenue from inbound calls and nor do we profit from calls. The National Bullying Helpline is a member of NCVO Member ID: MEMBERVC/17761