Posted: 14 November 2016

Anti-bullying week: children's voices

It’s #ANTIBULLYINGWEEK. The Anti-Bullying Alliance is shining a light on bullying and encouraging teachers, parents and children to use their Power for Good to help combat bullying throughout the year. 

At the Children’s Society we know all too well the devastating impact that bullying can have on the life of a young person.

The prevalence of bullying

Our Good Childhood report 2015 demonstrates that bullying is one of the top three important factors determining a young person’s well-being. It showed that about half of all children aged 10 – 15 are likely to have recently experienced bullying.

Through our consultations with children and young people across the country, bullying regularly emerges as a frequent theme:

“Bullying is common, people getting called names” - year 8 girl, Portsmouth.

Bulling can take place online in the form of “cyber-bullying” but most commonly takes place in schools.  Bullying can be physical such as being hit, which boys are more likely to experience:

“I think that it is not that easy to be happy because there are lots of bullies

and mean people at school” - year 8 boy, Portsmouth

However, it can also be verbal and emotional - being excluded from friendship groups or called names - which girls are more likely to experience:

We’re expected to be perfect, like Barbie dolls or something and if we don’t then we get bullied.” – Secondary School Girl, Nottingham

The long-term impact of bullying

Recent studies have also shown that bullying can have a significant and long term impact on a young person’s mental health and affect their development into adulthood. 

The evidence demonstrates that individuals who were frequently bullied during childhood were 30% more likely to use mental health services as adults than those who were not.  So bullying does not only have a lasting impact on the individual, it also places a strain on the health care system in the UK.   

In its most extreme form bullying can even lead to suicide. The latest independent inquiry into suicide places bullying within the top ten factors contributing to young people taking their own lives. Though rates of youth suicides have gone down in recent years, bullying has risen as a key contributing factor.

What can be done?

Early intervention to prevent childhood bullying is a must. Our study Access Denied demonstrates how difficult it can be for young people to access the support they need through mental health services. To combat bullying and its effect on children there must firstly be a zero tolerance attitude. Secondly, children should have access to good quality emotional and mental health support.

Many schools and teachers are fantastic at clamping down on negative peer to peer interactions. However there is room for additional training and resources for teachers to help them to spot bullying and give them tools for addressing with it:

“Not every teacher hears you….if there is a problem with bullying they just tell you not to be with them – not enough advice.” – Secondary School Girl, Nottingham.

It’s important to help young people realise they are not alone. Jessie-J has recently spoken about her experience of the name calling and bulling she endured at school due to her appearance and how more awareness around this issue would have helped her:

I was bullied the whole way through school because of my appearance and [it] would have made a big difference to me - just to understand I wasn't alone and to be made aware of how to feel better.” – Jessie J

 An approach which empowers children and teachers alike to deal with this issue at an early stage is likely to have the best impact in the long run. Anti-Bullying week is a great place to start.

By Judith Tovey - Policy team

Read more

Bullying – A key determinant of child well-being

Posted: 15 April 2014


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The Good Childhood Report 2016

Posted: 18 August 2016