Anti-Bullying Week is an annual event coordinated in England and Wales by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. Last November, an impressive 80% of schools actively participated in this week, reaching over 7.5 million children and young people. The impact of this collective effort is undeniably significant, underlining the importance of addressing bullying within schools.
This year's theme, 'Make A Noise,' encourages individuals to break their silence in the face of bullying, raising awareness of the hurt it causes and challenging the dismissal of bullying as 'just banter.' In this blog post, we will explore the significance of measuring bullying in schools and how surveys, such as the Child Relationship Survey, can help schools overcome the barrier of disclosure this Anti-Bullying Week and beyond.
It is crucial to start with a clear understanding of what bullying entails. According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, bullying is "the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power." Setting a common definition of bullying lays the foundation for addressing it effectively, but to do this comprehensively, you must consider the nuances of the issue.
Professor Dieter Wolke, a renowned expert on bullying and its impact on children's mental health, has been studying this subject for over 30 years. His research delves deeper, distinguishing between various types of bullying behaviours and categories of bullies. This comprehensive approach provides a richer understanding of the bullying relationship and its effects on the victim, paving the way for more targeted interventions.
Cyberbullying: An Extension of In-Person Bullying
One insight from Professor Wolke's research is that 85% of those bullied online also experience face-to-face bullying at school. This highlights the need for schools to address both online and offline aspects of bullying. By doing so, they can create a more holistic and effective approach to combating bullying.
Sibling Bullying and Its Impact
More recently, Professor Wolke's research has focused on what he describes as "the last taboo" - sibling bullying. Shockingly, his studies reveal that 40% of children have experienced sibling bullying, and its effects on mental health are akin to those experienced by children bullied at school. The connection between sibling bullying and schools is essential to understand because, as Professor Wolke emphasises, children do not exist in isolation. Children who experience bullying at home are more likely to face bullying at school, leading to more severe mental health outcomes. It is imperative for schools to understand and address this issue comprehensively to create a safer environment for all students.
The Effects of Bullying on Mental Health
Bullying's profound impact on children's mental health is well-documented. Professor Wolke's research highlights key statistics on the three main mental health outcomes for victims and emerging evidence on how these experiences can affect relationships into adulthood. To create a supportive and inclusive school environment, it is essential for schools to be aware of these longer-term affects.
Challenges Faced by Schools
One of the most significant challenges schools encounter when addressing bullying is that a considerable percentage of victims never disclose their experiences to parents or teachers. This lack of disclosure makes it difficult for schools to understand the full extent of the problem and provide appropriate support. Surveys, such as the Child Relationship Survey, can play a vital role in overcoming this challenge.
BounceTogether's partnership with Professor Wolke provides schools with exclusive access to the Child Relationship Survey, a powerful tool for monitoring and understanding their community's experience of bullying. This survey offers a promising solution to the challenges schools face when trying to tackle bullying. By implementing surveys and data-driven approaches, schools can gain insights into the prevalence and nuances of bullying behaviours within their communities, ultimately enabling them to intervene early and create a safer and more inclusive environment.
As Anti-Bullying Week's 'Make A Noise' theme encourages individuals to break their silence in the face of bullying, it’s the perfect time for schools to consider running a survey to collect important feedback from their community. You can download a free copy of the Child Relationship Survey on the BounceTogether website - Click Here