It’s not a rite of passage or character building, it’s harming our children and tragically ending lives. Take action before it’s too late

Schools and youth settings play an important role in developing the skills young people need to develop, cope and thrive in today’s world. They are a constant in young peoples’ lives and should be a safe, consistent place for them to flourish.

Going to school can be fun, but it can be stressful, too – learning new concepts, taking standardised tests, making new friends, then perhaps losing some of those friends and negotiating your way in the world for the first time. Add bullying to the mix, and the pressures multiply exponentially.

School bullying is a serious societal concern. With over half of the UK’s young people reporting they have been bullied, there is a crisis in our schools and youth settings.

Most school children want to be liked by their peers. But being subjected to taunts and mockery unnecessarily sullies a child’s learning environment by adding daily anxiety and uncertainty about what will happen from one day to the next.

Then there are the modern-day twists. Today’s youth are constantly switched-on in a socially connected world. But they can now be abused online, on social media and through text-messaging. Young people have been known to share embarrassing photos of their classmates, leading to further name-calling and insults. Often, this leaves no signs of physical abuse but lots of inner anguish, torment and humiliation.

All of this leaves the bullied students having to navigate all sorts of difficult dilemmas at a young age. Should I fight back? Or ignore it? Do I tell my parents? My teacher? Or maybe telling on the other student will bring repercussions? Is it better to stay silent and hope the bully will get fed up and it will all come to an end?

With too much emphasis on academic achievement and exams, and not enough on a pupil’s emotional well-being, the education system is unbalanced. Yet, how can we expect a young person who is suffering from bullying to concentrate and flourish academically?

Bullying causes unimaginable distress to a person – anxiety, stress, depression. It affects their social and academic ability and has a major impact on their mental health.

And despite the scale of suffering, one in three adults still view bullying as a routine ‘rite of passage’ and 16% describe it as ‘character-building’. How many more young people have to tragically lose their lives before these outdated perceptions change?

If a child has plucked up the courage to tell you they are being bullied (considering how humiliating it can be for kids to speak sincerely), it’s important to speak to, listen and reassure them the matter will be addressed immediately. Support them through what is happening and give them confidence that you will do everything in your power to stop their bullying.

Just as important, keep raising awareness throughout yours school. Professional support from external providers can enrich the everyday curriculum. Young people often respond productively to a new face and positively exploring issues from a different perspective can generate engagement, discussion, understanding and learning. The bottom line: Take action before it’s too late.

Education + Awareness = Prevention

HWRK is proud to sponsor BulliesOut. The charity provides anti-bullying education, training, awareness and support in schools, youth settings and the workplace across the UK. Its work is all aimed at raising aspirations, encouraging empathy, respect and responsibility and creating positive environments in which young people and staff can thrive.

For more information visit: bulliesout.com

“With too much emphasis on academic achievement and exams, and not enough on a pupil’s emotional well-being, the education system is unbalanced”

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