The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), part of leading charity the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), is calling on all schools in England to start preparing for Anti-Bullying Week 2011, which takes place this year from 14-18 November.Throughout Anti-Bullying Week, ABA and its 130 member organisations will send the message that bullying is not acceptable or inevitable in our schools and communities.
This year’s theme ‘Stop and think – words can hurt’ offers schools and local authorities the opportunity to challenge verbal bullying and the casual use of derogatory language which can lead to bullying in schools and communities.
ABA wants to encourage schools and other settings to create language charters which clarify what language is acceptable, give children and young people the tools they need to challenge others about hurtful language, find new ways of expressing anger and upset and make a conscious effort to speak positively.
To help plan for Anti-Bullying Week 2011, ABA has put together an online briefing pack containing essential information, advice and practical resources for schools, colleges, youth workers, parents and carers. Anti-Bullying Week posters, sticker packs, pin badges, pencils and rulers are also available from ABA’s online shop to help encourage children and young people to get involved in Anti-Bullying Week.
Sue Steel, Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance – based at the National Children’s Bureau – said, “The use of offensive and negative language is all too common in our schools and communities and can turn into verbal bullying. This is just as serious as physical bullying and it’s very important that it doesn’t go unchallenged. Through Anti-Bullying Week 2011 we’re asking people to tackle the use of casual derogatory language and prevent it from turning in to bullying.”
The briefing pack is now available to download from www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk
You can help combat bullying by making a donation to ABA at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AntiBullyingAlliance
A whole-school approach to tackling bullying
A whole-school approach to tackling verbal bullying involves taking the following actions.
■ Identify a lead in the school who coordinates the prevention and response to all forms of bullying – including verbal bullying.
■ Make sure you have an agreed, shared definition of verbal bullying that is understood by all staff, pupils, parents and carers and visitors.
■ Work with pupils to create a communication charter that makes it clear what the rules are with regard to the use of language, and other methods of communication. Ensure it includes all forms of prejudice-related language (see pupil activity 4).
■ Consult with pupils on a regular basis to keep up to date with trends in verbal bullying. If you hear young people using words or phrases that you don’t understand but you think may be offensive, ask them what they mean. It may be that the young people themselves are using words they don’t understand but know are insulting.
■ Make sure that all members of your school community feel confident to report verbal bullying.
■ Make sure that staff and pupils have the skills and ability to challenge the offensive use of language – whether or not it is intended to cause harm (see staff activity).
■ Create opportunities for pupils to use language in a positive way – for example using poetry, rhyme and song to address issues of bullying and prejudice. Also use opportunities in the wider curriculum to discuss the origin and influence of language.
■ If you are concerned that there are particular forms of prejudice-based language that are commonplace between pupils but are unsure how to address this (for example, the use of homophobic, sexist or racist language), seek help from outside agencies such as your local authority equality lead or the Anti-Bullying Alliance and its members (www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk).
■ Make sure that pupils and staff know where to access support if they have concerns about verbal bullying. For online support, young people can also contact Childline www.childline.org.uk or Cybermentors www.cybermentors.org.uk
Verbal bullying statistics
■ A large-scale government survey found that 31% of young people aged 14 had experienced verbal bullying (higher than any other form of bullying).
■ In 2008, 56% of all calls to Childline relating to bullying mentioned name-calling and teasing.
This was higher than any other type of bullying. 10% of calls (of 773 children) mentioned verbal or written threats.
■ Verbal abuse is the most common form of bullying, followed by relational and physical forms.
■ 65% of young lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in secondary schools (and 75% in faith schools) experienced homophobic bullying. Of those who have been bullied, 92% experienced verbal homophobic bullying, 41% physical bullying, and 17% death threats.
■ In a 2008 survey of 17 years olds in England, more than one in five young people had been threatened or had force used against them in the past twelve months. Males were more likely to have experienced threats or violence; females reported more verbal bullying.
■ 77% of children and young people with a learning disability reported being verbally bullied.