As the parent of a child who experienced prolonged bullying in primary and secondary school, the long term effects can be devastating. It obviously affects the child but can have a long-term effect on family life. It took my son almost a year to own up to what happening at school but the bullying persisted for a further 5 years taking its toll on his mental wellbeing.
Schools need to embrace the issue more in terms of both education and tackling it head on and I’m glad that Anti Bullying Week is being supported by schools up and down the UK.
However, we need to make sure that anti bullying is embraced during the other 51 weeks of the year to ensure that children do not suffer in silence. Parents need to have access to the tools that will help them better understand the issue and to identify the tell-tale signs that something is wrong.
We need to ensure that bullying in whatever form it takes is tackled in our society. No adult let alone a child should be the target for abuse because of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability or religion.
Unfortunately the advent of social media means that bullying that may start in the school playground or classroom, penetrates home life and becomes a 24/7 barrage heaping yet more misery upon children.
Children need to be given the confidence that if they speak up then adults will be there to help. Telling as many people as possible may be sufficient to get the bullies to stop.
However, for some like my son, he simply did not trust any adult when the bullying first started. That’s when children need to be aware of charities such as Childline where their concerns will be met with a reassuring voice.