To mark #StandUpToBullying Day, Dr Elizabeth Nassem, a researcher in BCU’s Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education, gives her advice for dealing with bullying.
Many people know what it feels like to be bullied. Despite a wealth of research and interventions, bullying in schools is still an ongoing problem and is linked to depression, anxiety and even suicide.
I have researched bullying for over ten years, with a focus on the causes and development of bullying within schools and how it affects young people. I have been providing pupil-led interventions and positive mentoring for children who are involved in bullying since 2014.
Schools have a legal obligation to address bullying when it happens, but often don’t have enough awareness or training to always recognise it so they don’t always help.
Don’t suffer in silence if you are being bullied – you can get help and support from others to stop the bullying.
Here are some tips that could help you:
Don’t be afraid to tell people – bullying thrives on silence and it is brave to try to stop the bullying. Tell a friend, your parents or a teacher who you trust. Speak to your teacher after they have finished teaching their class so they can give sufficient time to listen to you. Discuss with your teacher what you think will be the most effective response to deal with the bullying and ask if you can be involved in deciding how it will be handled. If they do not help then tell another teacher what has happened. If the bullying is not dealt with don’t give up on trying to make it stop.
Have a positive outlet for your emotions
I give a diary to each child I work with to write regularly about what has happened in school, how they have been bullied and how they feel about it. This helps children reflect on what has happened and can help you record things that you might not report straight away. One child reported, “When you can’t speak to the teacher about something then you can write it down”. It can also help if you need to show teachers evidence that you are being bullied.
Think about the best way to respond
Consider what you can say or do to respond to the bullying which will be most helpful in making it stop. Do you think you could speak calmly to the person who is bullying you and ask them why they are doing it? Tell them how you feel and that if they continue you may have no choice but to report them. Don’t retaliate otherwise you will get into trouble.
Don’t lose your confidence when you are being bullied. Don’t believe all the horrible things that the bullies might be saying about you. Question why they are saying the things they are saying, maybe they are jealous or are having problems at home. Keep up with your hobbies and interests and take care of yourself.
Support others who are being bullied
There might be other children who are being bullied who you can speak to and you can support each other. A few children might be bullied by the same person so perhaps you can speak up together. Try to make friends with people outside of your friendship group so you have a larger network who can support you if you are being bullied.
At BCU we offer advice and support whether you are thinking about applying to university, are in the process of applying or are currently studying here. Please visit our web page for more details.
Current students also have access to 24/7 support via Big White Wall. Please login to iCity to read more about this.
Find out more about research at Birmingham City University by visiting our research home page.
Dr Elizabeth Nassem