Anti-bullying Week – Anti-Bullying Charter

Today marks the final day of Anti-Bullying Week 2022 and we acknowledge that learning to understand and manage conflict is an important part of healthy emotional and social development.

A large body of research evidence gathered over the past 30 years confirms that experiencing bullying – particularly if the bullying continues over a long period of time – can have a significant and lasting impact on a child’s wellbeing into adulthood.

The detrimental short-term and long-term effects of bullying on children’s learning, their mental health, physical health, and social relationships have been well documented in the research literature.¹ One study conducted by Kings College London showed that the negative social, physical, and mental health effects of childhood bullying had severe long-term effects that continued into adulthood. The researchers concluded that children who were frequently bullied in their childhood were more like to have poorer physical, psychological, and cognitive functioning as adults and additionally were at increased risk of experiencing depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts.²

To ensure that we can prevent bullying and act quickly when it takes place, it is vital that we have a shared definition of bullying. This definition should be understood by the whole school community including parents, young people, and all staff.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance and its members have an agreed shared definition of bullying based on research from across the world over the last 30 years:

Bullying is the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. It can happen face-to-face or online.

It’s important to understand that misunderstandings and conflicts, although hurtful, are inevitable in human interactions and relationships. We should explain to children that although sometimes we may fall out with a friend or say or do something that is unkind, this isn’t bullying but can happen at times, in the heat of the moment or when we are feeling scared or stressed because of something that has happened. After this happens, it is important to be kind together again and to repair the friendship.

Bullying is different to this; it is very painful and can be the result of people not liking the difference in others, perhaps because of their race, religion, or habits. People can also be treated with prejudice if they are judged unfairly for their appearance, culture or beliefs.

‘Rupture and repair’ is the term used to describe the breaking and restoring of connection with one another. Since humans are wired for connection, and connection is what researchers say brings most happiness, rupture and repair is a critical concept to learn about for wellbeing. Bullying and the restoration of relationships can feel like complicated concepts to talk about with children, but when the discussion is led by a trusted and attuned adult, they can facilitate a safe and open space to explore these issues.

Anti-Bullying Week Bully
Anti-Bullying Charter Activity Template

Our ‘Actions, words and me’ wellbeing programme is designed to help children explore the concept of conflict resolution in a safe, playful and curios way.

Each of the sessions are structured to help the adult to facilitate a safe space where the children can talk openly about their experiences of unhelpful behaviours.

Sharing scenarios from real-life experiences can be helpful in identifying together what feelings may have been driving the behaviour, what the rupture felt like and what could have been done differently.

As a group or school community, you may consider creating an Anti-Bullying Charter. Consider the points below to stimulate thought and discussion:

  • What is bullying?

  • Why do people get bullied?

  • Why do people bully others?

  • What feelings might the person being bullied have?

  • What feelings might the person doing the bullying have?

  • What can we do to stop bullying?

  • What should we do if we see bullying?

Following your discussion, you could use our template to create your own Anti-Bullying Charter!

Written by Andrea Middleton

Andrea Middleton Hamish & Milo Lead Consultant

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