12th December 2021

Anti-Bullying Week

Anti-Bullying Week

Anti-Bullying Week took place this month from Monday 15th November to Friday 19th November.

 

We are very fortunate that bullying is incredibly rare at Churchfields but we need your help as parents and carers. It is important that you can talk to your child about bullying and know how to look for signs that may show if they are a victim. 

 

The NSPCC defines bullying as ‘behaviour that hurts someone else. It includes name calling, hitting, pushing, spreading rumours, threatening or undermining someone. Bullying can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online. It’s usually repeated over a long period of time and can hurt a child both physically and emotionally.’

 

Preventing bullying is an important issue and one we take very seriously. We remind children that we are a telling school and that children should tell someone if they see or experience any sort of bullying. Please remind your child to tell you if they witness or experience harassment or bullying. They can tell you or any adult in school.

 

The NSPCC says that these are signs that a child may be suffering from bullying:

 

  • belongings getting ‘lost’ or damaged
  • physical injuries, such as unexplained bruises
  • being afraid to go to school, being mysteriously ‘ill’ each morning, or skipping school
  • not doing as well at school
  • asking for, or stealing, money (to give to whoever’s bullying them)
  • being nervous, losing confidence, or becoming distressed and withdrawn
  • problems with eating or sleeping
  • bullying others.

 

However, no single sign will indicate for certain that your child’s being bullied. 

 

Starting a conversation about bullying

 

It’s never easy to start a serious conversation with a child. Do it too forcefully and they may well clam up straight away. But if you take a more subtle approach you can find the chat gets derailed and you’re soon talking about something entirely different.

 

So it can be a good idea to try to make the conversation relevant in some way. For example, if you’re watching TV together and the on-screen action has something to do with the subject you want to talk about – say a character is being bullied – you could kick things off by asking your child what they’d do in the same situation.

 

If you think this sounds a bit random and that you could be waiting a long time for the right topic to come up on the box then there’s another method that’s very useful, especially for younger children:

 

There are lots of story books written specially to help when you don’t know quite how to talk to children about serious subjects like death, abuse and bullying. There are different titles for different age groups and they make great starting points for you to broach a subject.

 

After you’ve read the story together a couple of times just ask some gentle questions about their understanding of what it was about and what they would do if they were the character in the story.

 

Another very good way to get your child’s immediate interest could be to say that a friend of yours needs some advice about a particular issue and to ask if they have any ideas. It’s a really nice way to show that you value their opinions while also finding out just how much they know about a subject – like how to stay safe on the internet.

 

Listening is important too

 

When you want to have a serious conversation with a child it can be easy to forget that it should be a two-way thing. For them to feel truly involved it’s very important to show that you are listening to them and really value what they’re telling you.

 

Start by asking questions that don’t just have “yes” and “no” answers. This is going to give your child the chance to tell you what they really think. Then give them as long as they need to answer without interrupting. They may be nervous or still working out what they really think and that could take a little time.

 

Don’t be afraid to let your child ask you questions too. Be honest with them about how you feel about certain subjects and let them know about things that have happened to you in the past.

 

It’s also really important to let them know that they can trust you to keep their confidence and that you want them to always feel they can talk to you, other people they trust or organisations like Childline when anything is worrying them.

 

Sometimes your child might actually come to you to talk about a concern.

 

It may be that they want to talk about a friend who is depressed or frightened because of bullying. 

 

It’s probably taken a lot of courage to even mention it to you so you need to make them feel as comfortable as possible about continuing the conversation.

 

If it’s not the right time or place, agree when and where you’re going to talk. And when you do get together begin by reassuring your child that they can tell you anything they need to and you won’t blame them in any way.

 

Listen carefully to what they have to say and if you don’t understand anything be honest and ask them to explain. Above all, let them say everything they want to say before you give any opinions or advice.

 

It’s OK to ask your child what they’d like you to do about the situation but it could be something where you can’t do anything at all; for example, if they’re grieving over a death. What you can always do is reassure and support – starting with a big hug.

 

If there is anything you can do, and if you plan to do it, let your child know. Otherwise they may feel like you’re going behind their back and they should never have told you in the first place.

 

It could be that your child has been learning about the subject you want to talk about at school as part of their Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). Talk to them about it and see what everyone in the class thought about what they were being taught.

 

Keeping the conversation going

 

However you try to start your conversation, try to have realistic expectations. It might not go as well as you’re hoping, but give it time. Your child might not be ready to talk straight away but could actually re-start the conversation with you a few days later.

 

It’s also best to think about having a few “bite-sized” conversations over a period of time. It gives your child the time to process what you’ve discussed and avoids the whole thing sounding like a heavy lecture.

 

Dealing with bullying

 

We want to teach children positive ways of dealing with conflict situations which they are faced with in everyday life.

 

In our school we teach these skills through role play from the point of view of the bullied and the bully.

 

We teach them to:

 

  • state clearly what they don’t like: “I don’t like it when you ……. kick me / talk to me like that…….” 
  • speak in a firm, not angry voice
  • look in their eyes firmly (but not in a threatening way)
  • stand tall (body language is important)
  • stay in control of themselves
  • walk away (not run) from the situation and towards an adult if necessary

 

If the bullying is happening online, we advise pupils to report it and block people.

 

If someone’s harassing or bullying them online, they can report it on the site or app. Even if someone else has reported it, making a report themselves can make it more likely the content will be removed. We advise pupils not to reply to abusive messages or posts as this can make things worse.

 

These skills need to be taught and practised.  Most children do not find it easy.

 

The bully is looking for a very different response from the person they are bullying and an assertive response usually diffuses the situation.

 

Extra support for parents can be found here at https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-is-child-abuse/types-of-abuse/bullying-and-cyberbullying/

 

Additionally, we recommend that you reiterate to your children what they have been taught in class about contacting Childline on 0800 1111, if they want to talk to someone anonymously as they are contactable 24/7 and are free and confidential. Children can also contact Childline online.

 

If you want any further advice, please contact the school.

 

Ms Williams (PSHCE lead)