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