As the lead for the Bedfordshire Police School liaison team I am proud that we have been able to support the national Anti-bullying Week initiative for the last five years.
Unfortunately despite the numerous anti-bullying campaigns in the media and the national curriculum, bullying is still a problem that a large number of children have to face.
With the development of technologies, such as text messaging, and social media sites, bullying is no longer confined to the playground. Cyberbullying continues to hit the headlines and there have been numerous campaigns and initiatives to highlight the issues of the problem.
My team supports children on an almost daily basis, who have suffered at the hands of bullies, which has become so serious it warrants police intervention.
Young people feel they often have to deal with bullying alone, and a child may worry that telling a trusted adult will make them angry or upset and we always say to parents or guardians when we deliver our regular information awareness sessions that it’s important that to have the tools needed to keep children safe, happy and free from bullying.
There can sometimes be a grey area around whose responsibility it is to deal with bullying but within Bedfordshire we have a clear procedure that we have put together alongside local schools and other educational establishments to respond to incidents.
If you feel like your child is being bullied, speak to their school and ask them to monitor the situation. The teachers will have experience in dealing with bullying and may be able to suggest the best course of action.
It is important not to get angry with the school as they may not be aware of the situation just as you may not have been. It’s best to agree with the school on what action should be taken and keep a record.
In most cases of bullying amongst peers, schools will deal with the problem and tend to have initiatives to combat the issue.
From experience, I know that children are very good at hiding their feelings which means that a victim of bullying can be hard to spot.
As part of our awareness session for parents and guardians we provide a brief list of things to look out for in your child, including:
- Not wanting to go to school
- Losing dinner money
- Mood swings
- Unexplained cuts and bruises.
Our message to children and young people is that if you are experiencing bullying, we know that it can make you feel low, helpless and alone. But you’re not alone and there are people around you that care about you and want to help. It’s really important that you talk to someone that you trust.
Bullying at school:
- Don’t suffer in silence – Every school has a duty of care to look after their students. If you are being bullied at school it’s important that you talk to a teacher. This can be your form tutor, pastoral care, head of year or any teacher that you trust. You could also speak to a parent or guardian, or get support from a support service such as Childline.
- Save the evidence – Keep a record of what’s been going on – remember the 4 W’s: What, Where, When and Who. This will help the person helping you to understand the situation and help you to resolve it.
- Plan the next steps – Your school should put an action plan in place to stop the bullying and keep you safe and free from harm. If your school does not take what you’re telling them seriously, your parents or carers could arrange a meeting with your school to talk through how the situation will be resolved.
Bullying outside of school:
- Speak to your teacher – Even if you are being bullied outside of school and the person is in your school, your school still has a duty of care to intervene in the situation.
- Speak to their teacher – If the person that is bullying you is not in your school and you know the school that they belong to, you can still speak to your teacher or parent and they can contact the school that the young person attends and they should take action.
- Speak to the police – If the person is unknown to you, you can contact the police and describe the person/incident to them and seek their advice.
Make sure you take the steps above and talk to people inside and outside of school that you can trust. These people care for you and will work with you to stop the bullying. Stay positive, you are not alone and things will get better.
Children and Young People Development Officer