A shocking report by the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) has indicated that England is ranked highest in the world for bullying and cyberbullying among students. This survey, which was reported in a number of daily papers including the Telegraph, revealed that 13.9% of head teachers reported that students had been targets of online bullying. With so much media coverage and various campaigns and publicity surrounding bullying, these findings are shocking. When we consider the current awareness surrounding the bullying epidemic, it would be reasonable to expect all types of bullying to be on the decline in schools. However, this is not the case.
As we live in the age of social media, it is hardly surprising that most bullies victimise individuals online. Bullies are cowards, and cyberbullying provides the perfect medium to carry out their campaigns of intimidation and abuse, all while hiding behind a computer screen or smart phone.
Tackling bullying in schools is an ongoing issue that requires immediate attention. Decisive action must be taken when dealing with anyone found guilty of bullying in schools. The targets of bullying need support. They need to know that it is not ok to bully others, and they need to feel that they can talk to someone about what is happening to them.
It is vital that schools take the lead in educating children from an early age about bullying. The message must be clear — bullying is not acceptable. All schools should impose a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, and this should include cyberbullying in schools too. Parents also need to be involved in this. They have the responsibility to educate their children at home and to monitor their social media usage and screen time. Teachers and parents need to be diligent in looking out for the signs of bullying. If a child starts acting out of character, or becomes increasingly withdrawn, these could be signs of bullying. Other signs such as not wanting to attend school, faking illness, displaying anxiety, sleeping problems and changes in diet and eating can all point to bullying.
By being vigilant to the signs and by refusing to accept bullying in all forms, we can create a more positive atmosphere in our schools. It is vital we do more to tackle this bullying epidemic so that our schools become places of learning and safety.