"Any anti-bullying advice or scheme or initiative which fails to mention accountability for bullies or for the responsible adults who are failing in their duty of care is likely to meet with at best limited success." (Tim Field)
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For children | For parents | For teachers and schools
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Action to tackle bullying at work
Bullies, being cowards, always pick on someone who is physically less strong than themselves; "weak" is an inappropriate word to use in this context unless it is used to describe the character of the bully. Bullies control others with threats of violence which are almost always carried out, sometimes with fatal consequences, as Damilola Taylor discovered.
The main reason, I believe, why bullies target a child is that they pick on someone who has a mature understanding of the need to resolve conflict with dialogue. Behind the stereotypes is a target who has a mature level of emotional development and a bully who has the level of emotional development of a five-year-old - or less.
The target will go to great lengths to avoid resorting to violence, as they have been taught by parents, teachers and society. As a society we instil in children the inappropriateness of using violence, often punishing them with violence for being violent. In a bullying situation, responsible adults often become critical of children for not responding to violence with violence by saying "why don't you just stand up for yourself?". Schools have a legal obligation called a "duty of care" to protect children from danger; this duty of care cannot be abdicated and denied by blaming the target of bullying for not standing up for themselves.
For children being bullied
Never ignore bullying. Instead, refuse to engage and refuse to respond to the bullies' provocation.
Learn to recognise bullying as soon as it starts. Early recognition is the key to a successful outcome.
Recognise that your have a right not to be bullied, harassed, assaulted or abused.
Understand that the accusations, allegations, criticisms, taunts etc that the bullies make are all false and are a projection of the bullies' own weaknesses, shortcomings, wrongdoings and failings. Whilst the accusations often contain a grain of truth, that grain of truth is there to fool you into thinking the whole accusation has validity, which it does not. The bullies' have criticisms, allegation, accusation, taunts etc have no validity whatsoever. It is important to understand this.
There are lots of myths and misperceptions about bullying. Learn what these are so that you don't fall into the trap of believing them and thus mistakenly seeing yourself as the one at fault.
Keep a diary of everything that happens. Keep the diary in a safe place.
You cannot tackle bullying by yourself. No-one can, not even adults. You are dealing with thuggery and criminal behaviour.
You may feel shame, embarrassment, guilt and fear. This is normal, but misplaced. The bullies stimulate these as part of trying to control you. Overrule these feelings.
Tell a trusted parent immediately and formulate a plan of action. Get hold of leaflets, pamphlets and books on dealing with bullying at school. Read everything you can. Knowledge is power.
Do your research on bullying and understand the game. It's a nasty game, but a game. See my links page for details of organisations and web sites with practical advice for recognising and dealing with bullying.
Call one of the helplines, eg ChildLine in the UK on freephone 0800 1111 or Safe Schools in the USA, 1-800- 1-8-NO-BULLIES or 1-866-285-5437. These calls are free. If the line is busy, keep trying - they're inundated with calls. You will eventually get through.
Get hold of, or ask your Mum or Dad to get hold of Kidscape's leaflets, pamphlets and books on dealing with bullying, eg 101 ways to deal with bullying: a guide for parents.
Ask your Mum or Dad to invest in a copy of Bullycide: death at playtime.
For parents of children being bullied
Over half of all children suffer bullying at school. Do your research on bullying now before the bullying starts.
Don't expect your children to tell you they are being bullied; bullies intimidate their targets into staying silent with threats of violence which they will carry out.
Talk to your children about bullying, explain the dynamics, and tell them to tell you as soon as it starts. Tell them you will always discuss things with them first and agree courses of action before doing anything.
Get hold of Kidscape's excellent material on recognising and dealing with bullying.
Surf the web site Bullying Online which has lots of information for parents whose children's school is failing to tackle bullying. Browse other web sites too.
Learn to recognise the signs of your child being bullied ... damage or loss of clothes and possessions, school avoidance, changes in speech patterns, changes in sleeping patterns, changes in diet, changes in academic performance, secretiveness, uncommunicativeness, bed wetting, sullenness, changes in routines, etc.
There are lots of myths and misperceptions about bullying. Learn what these are so that you don't fall into the trap of believing them and thus mistakenly seeing yourself or your children as the ones at fault.
Read the page of answers to frequently-asked questions which will give you ideas for how to express your needs and dissatisfactions and how to overcome denial and abdication of responsibility.
If you're in the UK, write to the DfEE (address) or email them via their website explaining that bullies are preventing your child undertaking their education. If the school is failing to deal with the bullies, highlight this too. The DfEE keep a scorecard of the most frequently-asked questions, so you'll be helping to propel bullying to the number one spot where it should be. For more comprehensive links and resources click here.
If you've taken all necessary steps and the school hasn't dealt with the bullies, it may be time to think about legal action. Any school which forces children to endure bullying (by failing to deal with bullies and by failing to expel them) might be prosecuted under the Human Rights Act for exposing children to degrading treatment.
Invest in a copy of Bullycide: death at playtime and ensure your child doesn't suffer lifelong damage to self-esteem and self confidence - or worse.
For teachers and schools
Ensure that your anti-bullying policy is effectively implemented and not just gathering dust on the shelf.
Take a proactive approach to bullying, not a reactive one which will be too late.
Do you know how much bullying there is in your school? Have you undertaken any surveys?
Create a whole-school ethos such that bullying is regarded unambiguously as unacceptable behaviour.
Ensure that the climate is one of inclusion and support where all pupils feel a sense of belonging and well-being, not one of exclusion and isolation where pupils live in a constant state of fear.
Ensure that all children understand what bullying is, and where and why it takes place.
There are lots of myths and misperceptions about bullying. Learn what these are so that you don't fall into the trap of believing them and thus mistakenly labelling the child who is being assaulted as the one who is at fault.
Empower pupils to take action to stop bullying.
Teach assertiveness. People spend 80% of their working life interacting with fellow human beings and it's a mystery why interpersonal skills and assertiveness don't appear on the school curriculum.
Invest in a copy of Bullycide: death at playtime so that your school isn't taken to court and isn't at the centre of a child suicide which you could have prevented.
Where now at School Bully OnLine?
Information on child bullying and bullying at school
School Bully OnLine Home Page | School bullying
Information for parents and teachers on child bullying
List of children who have died or been driven to suicide by bullying
Bullying myths | Who is responsible?
Answers to frequently asked questions
Child and school bullying news | Terrorism in the playground
Mobile phone bullying | Truancy | Bullying and special education
Bullying of gifted children | Educating your child at home
Action to tackle child and school bullying
Case law and settlements for school bullying
Links to organisations tackling school bullying
Books, publications, reports
Bullycide - the secret toll | Media reviews and reader feedback
Neil Marr and Tim Field's book Bullycide: death at playtime reveals
the hidden epidemic of child suicide caused by bullying and harassment
The authors Neil Marr and Tim Field
The Field Foundation | Bully OnLine
Workplace bullying | School bullying | Family bullying
Bullying news | Bullying case histories
Bullying resources | Press and media centre
Stress, PTSD and psychiatric injury
Action to tackle bullying | Related issues
Books on bullying and related issues
The spiritual meaning within trauma