When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper; They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.”
Bullying is defined as unwanted and aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time and both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. Generally people who are happy in themselves do not usually feel the need to bully others. However, it is thought that children bully for various reasons amongst which are that:
- They want to be ‘in’ with the cool gang.
- It feels like fun – they don’t realise how much it hurts.
- They dislike or are jealous of someone.
- It makes them feel powerful or respected.
- It gets them what they want (e.g: sweets or money).
- They are bullied themselves and are taking out their hurt and anger on someone who won’t fight back.
- They are having problems in their lives that are making them feel bad.
However, there can still be some confusion about what bullying is and what it isn’t.
Bullying is NOT a one-off fight or argument or even when a friend is sometimes being nasty. Bullying is usually the combination of ALL of the following elements – it goes on for a while or happens regularly; it is deliberate and is designed to hurt, humiliate or harm the victim and it involves someone (or several people) who are stronger, sometimes older and who holds more power in some way (e.g: a secret) than the victim.
At Burdett-Coutts, we employ the following actions in our anti-bullying strategies:
- We teach children how to deal with bullying through weekly circle time discussions. Teachers provide the children with examples of what they can say and do if they are being bullied. At these sessions, concerns about bullying are discussed and positive examples of friendships and anti-bullying tips are shared and celebrated. Children are taught how to turn others down nicely if they do not want to play with them at playtimes/lunchtimes.
- We have playground buddies who initiate games at lunchtime and breaktime with children who might otherwise be left out.
- We have 9 lunchtime staff to prevent children from getting bored at lunchtimes.
- We have an anti-bullying specialist train all staff annually on anti-bullying strategies, class management skills, how to deal with incidents and how to reduce the potential for bullying.
- In classrooms, cyber rules are displayed by the computer, reminding children about safe cyber use.
- We have a high-profile, whole school participation in an annual anti-bullying week with workshops and guest speakers for students, staff and parents.
Parents are often surprised when schools don’t automatically exclude pupils who are bullying others. Of course, as parents, our first concern will always be for our own child’s safety and happiness so it is natural to ask why the school seems to want to work with their tormentors instead of getting rid of them.
There are many reasons. It is important to note that a number of children have been bullied, have seen bullying and have even bullied themselves at some time. There is no evidence that children are born ‘bullies’ or ‘victims’ – they change roles according to where they are and who they are with. If schools simply move the problem children to another school, others will continue to suffer.
At Burdett-Coutts, we aim to deal with the problem and try to stop the child from bullying altogether. Of course, the school will always have the right to exclude them if all efforts fail to change the situation. If your child is being bullied, these are the steps that you should take:
- Meet with the class teacher or arrange an appointment to meet with Mrs Dyer, Mrs Allen or Mr Murphy. They will endeavour to meet with you on the same day of your enquiry or within 24 hours.
- Mrs Dyer, Mrs Allen or Mr Murphy will investigate the matter: they will talk to all the children involved and their class teacher(s) and write a report.
- This report will be shared with you within 24 hours. It will outline the plan in place to stop any further incidents.
- Mrs Lavinia Deary, (Family Support Worker), will talk to your child at several points during the first week, to reassure them that their concerns are being taken seriously and to ensure that they feel safe and supported.
- Ms Caroline Hall, (Senior School Meals Supervisor), will also monitor your child at lunchtime for the week and assist your child in resolving any lunchtime issues.
We appreciate parents’ efforts to understand what the school is trying to do and why. There are ways that we can work together to change bullying behaviour and that is by helping bullies to understand their victim’s feelings and the effect their behaviour has on them (developing their empathy). It is also important to teach them to stand up to peer pressure and give them support to manage the problems they are facing in their own lives.
When children who are being bullied are asked what they want to happen, they very rarely mention punishing the other child or revenge, they almost always just say that they want it to stop. And just maybe, we should all be thinking the same way.