What is Bullying?
There is no universally accepted definition of bullying and sometimes parents / carers and children can get confused between what is bullying and what is a friendship fall out or relational conflict between children.
Bullying is generally considered to be behaviour by an individual or group, repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally.
Relational Conflict vs. Bullying
The following table provides a very simplistic guide to some of the differences between bullying and relational conflict.
to solve problem
effort to solve problem
Schools will want to think about the definition they wish to adopt to explain what the school considers to be bullying behaviour.
In 2008, after a period of consultation with schools and other partners, Essex County Council adopted the following definition of bullying. many schools choose to use this definition but others have produced their own.
"Bullying is any behaviour which is perceived by the targeted individual or any other person, as intending to hurt, intimidate, frighten, harm or exclude. It is usually persistent and an abuse of power, leaving the targeted individual feeling defenceless."
Types of Bullying
Bullying can take many forms and includes
Physical bullying - Examples of physical bullying include punching, kicking or hitting. It could also include damage to school work or another persons belongings.
Emotional bullying - This includes the deliberate isolation and rejection of an individual -often by taking their friends away. Emotional bullying can also include looks and stares.
Verbal – Verbal bullying will include name calling, put downs and may include sexual, or racial comments.
Prejudiced based bullying - This form of bullying is generally driven by negative attitudes towards another group of people, or because the selected victim is seen as 'different' in some way. This can include homophobic bullying, racist bullying and the bullying of children with SEN.
Cyberbullying - This is the use of electronic communication to deliberately hurt someone. This includes the intentional sending of hurtful messages and inappropriate images.
Responding to Bullying
It is acknowledged that schools will wish to use a variety of approaches to resolve bullying issues in their schools. Essex County Council would encourage all schools to:
- Have a named member of staff who will lead on anti-bullying issues
- Ensure all staff are trained and feel confident to respond and effectively deal with all incidents of bullying
- Have an up to date anti-bullying policy that addresses all forms of bullying and that clearly explains how they will prevent and respond to bullying issues within their school community
- Encourage parents / carers and children to be involved in developing the anti-bullying policy and ensure that it is shared with all the school community.
- Ensure that parents / carers and children know how to raise a concern about bullying and have a clear understanding how this will be responded to
- Monitor the effectiveness of their anti-bullying policy
- Provide strategies to support those that are both bullied and those who bully
- Work towards ensuring their anti-bullying work meets the standards required by the Bullying Intervention Group ( BIG) award or another similar anti-bullying accreditation scheme
There are a variety of different approaches that school's adopt to tackle bullying in their settings. In 2008 Essex County Council adopted the support group approach as the preferred option for responding to bullying issues. Many schools have successfully used and continue to use this approach. However, other schools have adopted different approaches including the use of restorative justice and peer mediation.
The following research document gives further information on the different approaches that can be used to respond to bullying.
Restorative Justice is a process which gives victims the opportunity to meet or communicate with those who have offended against them. It holds offenders to account and helps them take responsibility for the harm they have caused. Both parties discuss next steps and the offender can then make amends.
Victims are given the chance to explain to a criminal the impact a crime has had on them, ask questions of the offender and seek an apology. It enables offenders to be held to account for what they have done but also take responsibility for the harm they have caused. If a face to face meeting is not appropriate they can do so indirectly via letters or messages.
Why children may be bullied
Children and young people maybe targeted for a variety of reasons that can include the following:
- Perceived as different
- new to the school
- have special needs / disabilities
- come from different backgrounds
- may be young carers or children in care
- nervous or have low self esteem
- demonstrate entertaining reactions
Possible warning signs to look out for include children who display some of the following.
- concentrate less in class
- be reluctant to go out to play
- cling to adults in the playground
- begin hurting others for no apparent reason
- complain of hunger
- have unexplained injuries
- become withdrawn and distressed
- refuse to say what the problem is
- have possessions go missing regularly
- give unlikely excuses to explain any of the above
Bullying and the Law
The following information from the Anti-bullying Alliance may be helpful in clarifying the legal issues surrounding bullying incidents.
Membership Schemes and Accreditation
Schools may wish to consider becoming part of the following organisations that work to support anti-bullying work.
The Anti-bullying Alliance
Stonewall Schools Champion Programme
Stonewall School Champions
More children bullied on the internet than in playground
A report from the EU kids online project says that for the first time more children are being bullied online than in the playground. Nearly 12 per cent of young people questioned said they had been the target of cyberbullying, compared with 9 per cent who said they had been bullied face to face. Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were the most common places they were bullied. The findings mark a shift since 2010, the last time the study was conducted, when 16 per cent of children reported being bullied face to face and 8 per cent online. You can find the report here: EU Kids Online
The teachers' report 2014: homophobic bullying in Britain's schools, Stonewall
A YouGov poll of nearly 2,000 school staff shows that teachers are still failing to tackle homophobic bullying in Britain's schools. Key findings include: only eight per cent of primary school teachers and 17 per cent of secondary school teachers say they have received specific training on tackling homophobic bullying. Read the full report here: Teachers Report 2014