School-age bullying is a serious societal concern that affects the lives of half of the UK’s children and young people. Going to school can be fun for young people, but it can be stressful, too – learning new concepts, taking standardised tests, making new friends, then perhaps losing some of those friends and negotiating their way in the world for the first time.

Add bullying to the mix, and the pressures multiply exponentially.

Most school-age 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.

No parent wants their child to suffer and no school wants to be highlighted as one that has ‘a bullying problem’. In today’s society, as every school is legally bound to have an anti-bullying policy, no child should have to suffer from on-going bullying at school.

Research reported that in school settings, bullying is missed by adults 96% of the time. While most teachers are very focused on what goes on in their classrooms, the majority of bullying occurs in locations like the dining hall, playground, bathroom, hallways, the bus and perhaps, most infamously, online.

For a school to reduce bullying, the emphasis must be placed on creating a culture of acceptance, tolerance and respect. The ethos of an organisation is created and experienced by all and can indicate the quality of relationships and interactions, the general satisfaction and well-being of staff, pupil engagement and the strength of home-school and school-community connections.

Although many schools do not always realise when bullying occurs, once they are notified of any incident, they should do whatever they can to ensure that it stops immediately. A meeting with the parents should be arranged as soon as possible as this will let them know you want to make sure the issue is dealt with as soon as possible and are willing to support them.

Establishing a school culture that is clearly pro-learning and where all members of the school community receive and communicate clear, coherent messages that ‘this is a place of learning where violence is neither accepted or expected’ is a powerful step towards preventing bullying.

Schools should establish key values and abide by them. They should develop clear, consistent messages and deliver them. They should look for opportunities to enhance positive relationships between staff, parents and pupils. Bullying thrives where there are no ‘adult eyes’ so, where possible, reduce anonymous space.

Bullying has been a part of society since its inception and will not easily disappear. But with the joint effort of schools, parents and children, going to school can become a healthier, safer experience.

The bottom line: Take action before it’s too late.

“Bullying thrives where there are no ‘adult eyes’ so, where possible, reduce anonymous space”

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