Bullying in schools has been going on for as long as we can remember. Whilst no one would condone it, it's hard to stop it from starting in the first instance. Some young people who are carrying it out are devious enough to hide it, and sadly victims are also being clever at pretending everything is ok.
An interesting read in the TES this week revealed statistics into bullying in schools. I may be the only one but there seems to be some contradiction in the results. Questions raised for me are: are staff being honest with their answers? Do staff not want to admit there is a problem? If there is a problem and they are not acknowledging it, do they really know the damage they are causing young children?
The research I read was carried out by TES and This Morning revealing 76% of primary schools responses suggested there was no bullying in their schools. 22% of primary schools responded there was bullying with 2% revealing they didn't know if there was any bullying at all.
Coming from a teaching background I am concerned to learn that 2% of schools don't know if there is a problem with bullying in their school; but what doesn't surprise is the 76% suggesting there is no bullying taking place at all. I have worked in places where I have had to intervene with incidents of bullying, and then learn through the Ofsted report that we didn't have a bullying issue. A somewhat head scratching read for me at the time.
It's a little bit like the theory of the tree falling in the woods, if you aren't there does it make a noise? If staff don't acknowledge there is a bullying culture then they don't have to deal with it.
When we have our own families one of the first comments we very quickly regurgitate is 'children don't come with an instruction manual' but many of us soon find our way of dealing with the challenges family life brings, without any training. Majority of us parents, I'm guessing, wouldn't let their own children bully each other we would find a way of managing it that suits our children and quickly settle their differences.
With this in mind this research reveals a high number of teachers, 51% suggesting they had not had the training they needed to combat bullying. Does this mean 51% of staff don't do anything about bullying even if they know it is happening? Perhaps they are unaware that if children's issues are not dealt with at a tender age they have a lasting impact.
Only this weekend I spoke with a young mother who had gone through counselling after the birth of her child, her therapist revealed that her deep rooted issues started around the age of six or seven when she was experiencing a family breakdown. She didn't want to worry her parents as they were going through their own tough time. So she kept everything to herself.
She suggested that if The Worrinots was around when she was young, she is confident she wouldn't have needed therapy as an adult. She just needed someone to talk to and confide in. Early intervention is needed to encourage children in the primary years to speak out and normalise the notion of conversation and asking for help.
It's worrying that 40% of staff revealed that they are aware of pupils in their school were too scared to attend as a result of bullying. This is staggeringly high as only 22% admit to having a bullying issue in the first place.
The same report also revealed that 'schools don't want to accept or recognise how much of a problem bullying is... It allows the bullies to continue operating. Some children are too frightened to turn up to school or physically sick at the thought of going to school.'
A different report from the TES on 14 September 2017 reveals teachers are concerned with a rise in banter and mockery being normalised by technology.
The Worrinots aim is to empower children with confidence to speak out, when some teachers see technology as a concern and a cause of bullying, it can in fact be the lifeline some children need. We need to stop demonising technology, it's not just for adults. Think about technology for the good, let's not dwell on the length of time being spent on it, but the quality of information they are looking at.
Interestingly, 75.8% of staff suggested bullying was worse as a result of digital technology, a bold statement considering actual school bullying is suggested to be so low.
Our own research conducted this year revealed that the reason children don't want to open up to anyone about their problems is because they don't want adults to worry or what they are worrying about is silly. Parents we have been working with have been able to reveal this to us when they have engaged with The Worrinots.
Despite what the teachers say, we all know bullying is rife in schools. We may not be able to prevent it happening, but we can give the victims the tools to not only cope, but also speak out.