ABA has launched its second edition of its Focus on Bullying, a roundup of the latest and most up to date research pertaining to bullying in the Uk. Commissioned by the Anti-Bullying Alliance and written by Peter Smith and Fethi Berkkun, this collection of reseach gives us an interesting insight into the current nature of bullying, both on and offline, and we should think about addressing the issues at hand. Faiza Siddiqi provides a summary of the research below.
Statistics on bullying continue to show that face to face and verbal bullying are the most commonly reported type of bullying amongst young people aged 12-20. Unsurprisingly, several mental health issues are reported to have been experienced by those affected by bullying; namely depression, anxiety and suicide and self-harm. This continues to be a source of much concern and reaffirms the way in which bullying has a profound impact on pupil wellbeing.
The report looks at minority groups who have typically been affected significantly more by bullying; specifically, Muslim and LGBT groups. This is not surprising given the concern over a recent rise in Islamophobia and anti-LGBT sentiment and highlights the need to address faith targeted and sexual bullying in schools.
Having an effective reporting system for bullying and building safe spaces where children feel that they can voice their concerns is something schools should be actively working towards. Yet the research roundup highlights that students are often reluctant to report bullying when they see or are affected by it. Indeed, it suggests that we need to be doing more to train staff and students on how to actively combat this within schools, guided by strong anti-bullying policies. Despite this, it is encouraging to see the report cite that in 2017/2018
on average 72% of pupils believed that their school was dealing with bullying ‘well or quite well'.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance’s ‘All Together’ programme was shown to have a positive impact on schools and reported instances of bullying, particularly those with special education needs and disabilities. The audit tool proved to be a useful tool in developing whole-school anti-bullying policies for both students and staff to follow. It highlights the need for schools to constantly be reviewing their school policies and the kind of school culture it’s fostering.
Much of the research shows that the way in which the prevalence of bullying is understood, is done so from varying definitions of bullying from research which uses no clear definition of bullying to research that has a clearly defined explanation of bullying. These differences in definitions draw a variety of conclusions about the level of bullying children and young people are experiencing both on and offline. The report did much to highlight the number of different risk factors one must look at when focusing on bullying, and that these factors cannot be looked at in isolation from one another when seeking solutions.