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November 15th 2018

Head Girl Team Blog: Anti-Bullying Week

From the White House to the school play ground, bullying pervades ages, demographics and social settings. Damaging behaviour can seem normal, or is even encouraged as an assertion of strength and leadership. Bullying is ingrained in the culture of schools and workplaces. Bullying is not only visible and public abuse. According to Cyber bullying statistics from Ofcom (2017), around 1 in 8 young people have been bullied on social media, this has hidden dangers due to its anonymity and invisibility. In the media, bullying and harassment are so frequent on the agenda that, we have become immune to inhumane behaviour and many have come to expect it. Despite perpetual scandals around bullying and harassment within many sectors, very little has been done to resolve it.

A climate of fear targets some demographics more than others. According to the NSPCC, the key vulnerability factors for bullying are: physical appearance, race, faith, academic ability, gender identity and sexuality. Furthermore, characteristics such as being anxious or shy can render people ‘easy targets’. As a result, people have been taught to accept that its normal to experience bullying, belittlement and harassment. Vulnerable people can be hesitant to enter environments notorious for such attitudes, hence deterring capable people from certain careers. Similarly, bullying prevents people from excelling and accessing education as they are distracted or deterred. This is destructive to people’s self confidence and self worth, consequently inhibiting their quality of life and potential.

In my view, the phrase ‘Anti-Bullying Week’ is inaccurate. People are rarely in favour of bullying, instead they are unwittingly complicit in it. Rather than emphasising how bad and damaging bullying is, the focus of anti-bullying week should be to highlight behaviours that constitute as bullying and how to overcome them if and when they occur. It is everyone’s responsibility to hold people to account for bullying. The hugely detrimental impact of bullying means that it must not be brushed under the carpet or accepted as inevitable. If someone’s behaviour is physically or mentally damaging another person, it needs to be stopped. At school, the best way of doing this is to talk to a teacher, Sue the school nurse, or Foluke the counsellor. Alternatively, talk to someone of a similar age; the school’s Peer Mentors are accessible via email or in the Library after school and in period 4A. They consist of students in the upper years of the school with a role to advise or help anyone seeking it.

It is up to all of us to check our own behaviours, influence others positively and challenge bullying whenever we see it. ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. -Edmund Burke

Written by Emerald, Year 13


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