Bullying is something that all schools take very seriously and, unfortunately, it is not just something that children and teenagers go through. It is well researched that bullying can cause long term upset to both the person on the receiving end as well as (interestingly) those that bully. It is not a child’s fault if they are bullied and they should never be told to just ignore it, or to change who they are. It is the children doing the bullying that need to change their behaviour and their attitude. This is particularly true if the bullying is targeted at a pupil’s gender, sexuality, race, faith, impairment or special educational need.
Identifying bullying is crucial as children will often remain silent about what is going on. Equally, it can become difficult because both children and adults sometimes misuse the term, using it to describe a situation where friendships may have broken down. We teach the children that bullying is ‘behaviour by any an individual or group, repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group socially, physically or emotionally’. To help the children remember this, we teach them the abbreviation ‘STOP': bullying is if someone does something unkind to you Several Times On Purpose and that if someone does bully you, you must Start Telling Other People. Children frequently fall in and out of friendships at a young age and these ‘fallings out’, when children may say unkind things to each other, can often be misconstrued as bullying. It becomes bullying if it is intentional and repeated. ‘I’m being bullied – my friend won’t let me join in their game’. This, on one occasion, is very different from a child being repeatedly ostracised and excluded from joining in. Knowing and being able to identify the difference is crucial because resolving each will be approached very differently. Bullying will generally have a greater long-term emotional impact than having an upset within a friendship.