Parents in the UK today need to be prepared for any eventuality with their children. Bullying at School is no exception. Although all children deserve to study in a safe and orderly school environment, circumstances and conditions may dictate otherwise. Despite teachers’ efforts to maintain a high behavior standard, bullying continues to be a major problem in many UK schools. By being forewarned about bullying issues in their children’s school, parents can be better prepared to handle bullying problems if and when they arise.
2014 Bullying Statistics for UK Schools
Key findings from the 2014 Annual Bullying Survey in Britain show the alarming statistics of how bullying continues to plague British youth. Approximately 3,600 youth, age 13-18, from 36 colleges and schools across Britain participated in the survey in which the following was revealed:
- 45% of British youth experience some form of bullying before they turn 18
- 26% of these get bullied on a daily basis
- 40% of bully victims were targeted due to personal appearance; 34% due to racial, religious, disability or cultural discrimination
- 61% of bully victims were physically attacked; 10% were sexually assaulted.
When it came to the effects of bullying,
- 56% said the experience had a negative effect on their studies.
- 83% mentioned bullying caused them to lose self-esteem.
- 10% attempted suicide due to bullying attacks.
Bullying comes in many forms and can be directed against teachers and students alike. Bullying behavior is intended to intimidate or cause intentional harm to others, either physically, mentally or emotionally. Physical bullying may entail pushing, punching, kicking, biting, pinching, pulling hair or other hurtful acts. Verbal bullying often involves teasing, name calling, criticizing, lying about others, spreading malicious rumors or ostracizing students from the company of their peers. Such attacks are meant to shame, ridicule and intimidate children to make them look and feel inferior.
The Internet has opened up a whole new field for bullies as they use email and texting to further promote their hateful acts. Recent news reports of students committing suicide due to vicious cyber-bullying attacks highlight the dangers of this malicious activity.
Children can be targeted for bullying for a variety of reasons. Bullies may dislike a student’s religion, culture or race. Sometimes students are bullied for their sexual orientation or disability or exceptional abilities and skills. Bullies have been known to target others that are smarter or more talented than them out of jealousy over their particular skills. Bullies also target weaker students as they can easily overpower them and make them feel inferior. Bullying in schools puts students at risk of physical and emotional harm. It also detracts from a school’s ability to provide students with a quality education. For this reason, schools should make every effort to tackle bullying issues right away.
By law, state schools in the UK are required to develop a behavior policy to outline the standard of behavior expected of their students. This policy covers such issues as student dress code, registration and discipline on school grounds, to include measures against bullying. Most schools post a copy of their behavior policy online. This gives parents the opportunity to become familiar with disciplinary measures put forth by their children’s institution.
Disciplinary Measures to Counter Bullying at School
Schools reserve the right to institute disciplinary measures to uphold the behavior standard adopted by their institution. Such measures may vary from school to school; however, they will be clearly stated in the school’s behavior policy. When administering discipline to their students, teachers have to take a child’s age, disability, mental capacity and religion into account. Some common procedures used to enforce school behavior include:
- Time out
- Physical force to remove a disruptive child from the classroom or break up fights between students
- Suspension of school privileges
- Body searches (if teachers or staff suspect a child may be hiding an item that could cause him or others harm)
- Confiscation and/or banning of a student’s personal property (mobile phones, tablets, computers) from school grounds
The Education Act of 2011 has also given teachers permission to search through a student’s mobile phone or computer to find evidence of cyber-bullying acts.
Some schools have a separate anti bullying policy to deal specifically with bullying issues. Putting an anti bully policy in primary schools will not only help reduce bullying in primary schools but may be useful in curtailing the problem as kids grow older. Although many UK secondary schools have a school bullying policy in place, it’s more difficult to change a bully’s behavior once he or she has reached the adolescent years.
How Can Parents Deal with Bullying Concerns
Dealing with bullying in school is never easy for a parent. Most parents are at a loss as to what to do when they think their child is being bullied at school. Knowing how to handle bullying issues can help reduce the pressure parents face when problems with bullying arise. Parents can also use their knowledge of the behavior policy in their child’s school to ensure bullying measures are being enforced when there is a need. Here are some guidelines parents can following when investigating bullying situations with their children.
Talk to a Child’s Teacher(s)
A parent’s first line of defense in bullying situations is to talk with their child’s teacher(s) to learn more about how their child is doing at school. Parents should ask about their kids’ interest in school activities, interactions with others, social behavior and if he or she seems happy in the school environment. At the primary level, teachers can often help children integrate into classroom or playground activities or help resolve conflicts that may arise. By working together, parents and teachers can nip bullying problems in the bud early on.
At the secondary level, it’s often more difficult for teachers to learn of bullying incidents unless reported by a student. There’s also less student supervision in such areas as bathrooms, stairwells and halls or on outside grounds. Once students begin reporting incidents, teachers can make greater efforts to monitor danger zones to catch a school bully in the act.
There are other measures parents can take to help protect their teens from the bad effect of bullies. Parents can encourage their teens to enroll in team sports or pursue personal interests by taking after school classes in music, art, martial arts, etc. This provides teens with the opportunity to make new friends. Teens should also avoid trouble spots and trouble people in school to reduce the chance of being bullied.
Keep a Diary of Bullying Acts
If bullying incidents continue, parents should make a diary with details of times and places where incidents occur. This can then be presented as evidence to school authorities to investigate and resolve. In the event of a physical attack, parents should take photos showing their child’s injuries as well as get a doctor’s report of medical attention that was received.
Bullying always has a mental or emotional impact on a child. Parents should take note of behavior changes in their children caused by bullying at school to include abnormal fear, anxiety, lack of sleep, loss of interest in school, depression, etc.
Meet with School Officials
Parents should meet with teachers or other school officials as soon as possible to discuss bullying incidents and how they can be resolved. Possible solutions could include supervising bullies more closely to prevent further acts, designating safe areas on campus where victims can go, holding seminars for teachers and students about bullying and demanding that anti bullying policies be enforced. By filing a formal complaint with the school, parents may get faster results.
Follow Up on Bullying Incidents
Sometimes parents have to be persistent in following up on bullying issues to ensure they get resolved. Getting support from other families whose children or teens have been bullied at school can be an effective tactic in getting results.
Police Action against Bullying in UK Schools
There are some forms of bullying that are illegal in the UK, making them punishable by law. These include acts of violence, theft, physical assault, hate crimes and repeated harassment in the form of verbal threats, name calling, or abusive emails, phone calls or texts. Children or teens who feel their lives are in danger by bullies at school can call 999 to get the help they need.
Parents need to report illegal bullying acts to their local police. UK police departments have specially trained officers on staff to handle unlawful school related bullying issues. Most countries have a legal age where children can be held criminally liable for their actions. In England and Wales, that age is 10. Police cannot take criminal action against bullies who are younger than 10; however, they can give bullies a stiff warning in the presence of their parents to help ward off further attacks.
There are also a number of UK organizations that offer support for victims of bullying. Such organizations as
can provide valuable counsel on how to cope with bullying in UK schools. Bullying victims may feel isolated in their situations and sometimes even blame themselves for suffering from bullying attacks. These organizations help to expose bullying for what it is and offer encouragement to victims that they are not alone in their fight. .
Moral Training: The Root of Good Behavior
Bullying at school is a worldwide problem that troubles public and private schools alike. It can be evidenced in primary, middle and secondary schools, although bullying tactics differ from one age level to the next. Parents can help reduce bullying behavior by upholding a disciplinary standard at home and teaching their children moral values. Children who are taught to be considerate, respectful and compassionate at home will carry these values into the school environment. In like manner, having a disciplinary standard at home gives children a foundation for good behavior in the classroom.
In contrast, studies show that many bullies are sorely lacking in moral training or having a home disciplinary standard. A child that grows up without parental guidance or supervision will have little, if any, foundation for right or wrong behavior. This sets the stage for him to make his own rules and become a school bully. Lack of discipline and moral training can make it very difficult for a child or teen to integrate into a controlled school environment. Even adults have to learn to abide by certain rules of behavior in order to work and live peacefully in today’s society.
By rearing their children in a functional home with good moral values and habits, parents can do their part to curtail bullying behavior before it ever starts. Teachers and schools can then continue to build on the foundation parents lay in sustaining acceptable behavior for the school environment.