- Bullying targets different groups and individuals, including on the following grounds: race, religion or culture; SEND; relating to health conditions; children who are young carers; looked after children; sexual or sexist bullying; cyberbully.
- It is everyone’s responsibility in school to help prevent and tackle bullying.
- All staff should be aware of the signs of bullying and should intervene if they suspect bullying is taking place.
Bullying can include:
- name calling
- malicious gossip
- ostracising or ‘leaving someone out’
- damaging someone’s property
- violence and assault
- jostling, pinching and kicking
It is difficult for victims to defend themselves against it. It is important that all types and methods of bullying are tackled.
Different types of bullying
Bullying targets different groups and individuals and includes the following.
Bullying related to race, religion or culture
Racist bullying has much in common with other types of bullying but it is also quite distinct in that it targets the individual’s family and culture as well as their own personal characteristics. Political events and the political climate can have a major effect upon the proportion of bullying associated with race or faith.
This form of bullying can seem to be sanctioned by a wider group of people and the victim might feel that everyone within this group holds the same views.
Bullying related to special education needs and disabilities
Research shows that children and young people with SEN and disabilities are more at risk of being bullied than their peers. They might also find it more difficult to report the bullying and lack the confidence or peer group support to be able to do so. In some cases, children may not even recognise that they are being bullied and may be less aware of the structures to deal with it when they are.
Bullying related to appearance or health conditions
Those with health or visible medical conditions may be more likely than their peers to become targets for bullies.
Bullying related to sexual orientation
Homophobic bullying is possibly the form of bullying least likely to be self-reported. The pupil may not want to report bullying as it can also mean disclosing their sexuality. Homophobic language can be common in schools but does need challenging as otherwise pupils can think that homophobic bullying is acceptable.
Bullying of young carers or looked-after children
Children may be vulnerable to bullying because of their home circumstances. It might be that they are the carer for a relative or that they are living with foster carers. Their different life style and commitments can make them stand out from other children and can add to the difficulties which their home circumstances can already present.
Sexist or sexual bullying
This can affect both genders. It often includes name-calling, comments and overt looks. There may be incidents of uninvited touching, innuendos and propositions and pornographic imagery or graffiti may be used. In some cases, this kind of bullying can be treated more lightly by peers who may regard it as socially acceptable. It can, however, have a profound affect on individuals.
This is a method of bullying rather than a type of bullying. It can be defined as the use of ICT, particularly mobile phones and the internet, to deliberately upset someone.
Bullying can be linked to other differences that pupils exhibit. For example, in some contexts, pupils who are considered to have more or less money than others might be bullied. Children and young people who are particularly able might find themselves bullied just as much as those who are less able.
What your role might be
Your role will be defined as part of the school’s anti-bullying policy. However, it is everyone’s responsibility in school to help prevent and tackle bullying. Depending upon your job description within the school, it is likely that you will be expected to:
- be alert to signs of bullying
- helps support and create an ethos where bullying is less likely to occur
- recognise when there are signs of bullying taking place
- intervene where you suspect bullying is taking place, either through referring the behaviour to a more senior member of staff or addressing the issue with the pupils concerned (which strategy you adopt will depends upon your role in the school)
- record any incidents that you have witnessed and ensure that others within the school are aware of what has happened and that plans are in place to address it
- apply sanctions (according to your role in the school).
You should follow the school’s system of recording bullying incidents. It should include opportunity for you to note:
- what happened and how often
- who was involved and who was a witness
- where it happened
- what has been done already.
How we might know that bullying is taking place
Most, if not all organisations, play host to some form of bullying. It may be low level, for example through the use of unkind words or phrases or leaving someone out. Low-level bullying can be particularly difficult to pick up and can go on for a lengthy period of time.
The fact that it might be drawn out can mean that it is particularly distressing for those experiencing it.
It is important that staff are aware of the signs of bullying and where it might be likely to take place. It is up to the whole school community to address it and spread the message that bullying, in whatever form, is not acceptable.
Signs of bullying
Early signs that a child is being bullied could be:
- withdrawn behaviour
- deterioration in work
- erratic attendance or spurious illness
- persistently arriving late at school
- general unhappiness or anxiety
- clingy behaviour around adults.
Physical symptoms could include headaches, stomach aches, fainting, fits, vomiting or hyperventilation. Victims can become depressed and this can continue into their adult lives. It can lead in the worst case to suicidal thoughts.
Pupils can be very reluctant to discuss bullying with a member of staff, particularly if it is homophobic bullying. Suspected bullying should never be ignored and staff should seek advice from a member of the school leadership team or their line manager if they suspect that bullying is taking place but are unsure what to do next.
There are high-risk areas where bullying is particularly likely to take place. These include:
- toilet areas
- the playground, in particular any areas that are a little more difficult to see by supervising adults
If you are on duty you should be particularly vigilant around these areas. There is also the likelihood that there will be areas outside of school that are vulnerable including:
- on the way to and from school
- on board vehicles used for school transport.
Pupils are the most knowledgeable individuals in relation to what goes on in a school. It is important to keep lines of communication open and provide opportunity for pupils to put forward their suggestions for how bullying might be addressed and where they think risk factors exist.
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