With the children’s love of Christmas fun still fresh in their minds, how many young faces truly want to go back to school when the holidays have ended? As adults we sometimes suffer stress with bullying in the workplace. At times it is difficult to find ways to resolve this friction. Imagine how distressing it is for a child who is confronted with a situation like this at school, writes Education Correspondent, Virginia Morris.
The Telegraph newspaper reported that almost half of children worry about returning to class after the holidays because of bullying. Experts warn that despite laws and procedures being introduced to stamp out bullying in schools, it has become ‘normalised’ and remains a major issue. Dr Elizabeth Nassem, of Birmingham City University whose research focuses on the topic, says that bullying tends to be oversimplified and those in authority seek to punish the individual rather than addressing the root causes. We need to listen to the children.
According to Bullying UK, if your child is being targeted you need to make the school aware. In the first instance, see the class teacher and explain your worries in a friendly non-confrontational way. Hopefully this ends it but Bullying UK says that if things continue there are other measures that can be taken.
They recommend keeping a diary of what your child says is happening, including dates, times and details of the incident together with any witnesses. Write a note to the class teacher or head of year, explaining that the problem is still unresolved and ask for their support in helping to tackle this. Suggest that contact between the bully and your child is monitored and limited, perhaps by the bully moving to another table or set. Ask for your letter to be put onto your child’s school file, together with a note of action taken. You can ask to see a copy of your child’s record to ensure that these have been accurately recorded. Ask for a follow-up meeting after a couple of weeks to discuss how things are going.
Government advice says you should report bullying to your child’s school in the first place but some forms of bullying are illegal and should also be reported to the police. These include violence or assault, theft, repeated harassment or intimidation – for example name calling, threats, abusive phone calls, emails or text messages and hate crimes.
School should be a safe, happy place to return to. There are lots of organisations that provide support and advice on this subject, such as Bullying UK, Anti-Bullying Alliance, Childline, The Diana Award and Kidscape. Child Law Advice also have an education line where you can get guidance and information about taking time off school because of bullying.
I remember being bullied at school and the problem was never addressed. A few years ago I was severely tormented at work. Now when I reflect back to my school days, I believe that if those caring for me had armed me with the tools to defend myself then, I would have been more able to stand up to those bullying me in adult life.