When many of us think about bullying, we automatically have this image in our minds of this hoody wearing N’ere-do-well, who is threatening to punch the other kid and demanding their lunch money. Well, that image could not be more generalising and less accurate. Because bullying is much more pervasive. This is simply because over the years, bullying has evolved into different shapes and forms such as verbal bullying and verbal abuse.
Some may believe in the old saying of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words cannot hurt me”. Whereas others may say that words are much more powerful , because unlike physical bruises and injures, you cannot visibly see the depth, and the scale of the impact that it makes. In our schools, young people often get bullied not because eod what they have done but simply because of who they are. When a kid is called names, when a pupil is left on the sidelines, that student is denied an opportunity to achieve their true potential. I don;lt have to remind you that bullying lowers young peoples’ self-esteem and it has a direct affect on their attendance and attainment.
The real question that we must all ask is the following:
“What can be done about this issue?”
In my opinion, the first step in resolving any issue is recognising the fact that there is a problem in the first pace, rather than denying the facts. It does not matter how great the challenge is, whether it is climate change or bullying, we must accept the truth. There is no point in saying that there isn’t an issue with bullying in our school, borough or country. Because that simply isn’t true.
We must recognise the issue without becoming complacent about it. We mustn’t think that it is quite common and that bullying amongst young people is simply part of growing up. There has to be a fine balance.
We have to make sure that there are non-teaching staff in our schools, such as student welfare officers or trained professionals who are familiar with things like well-being and mental health. We should sit down with the victims of bullying and provide any advice and support needed. But we must also sit down with people who commit to such behavior to understand what turns them into becoming so-called ‘Bullies’.
Finally, we must promote and develop a sense of resilience amongst students, so that they are not afraid to face and eventually overcome challenges. We must all climb our mountains.
Ali Khosravi, Michelle Bailey, Lord Lieutenant – Pictured