Anti-bullying Campaigns are Not doing Enough Stop Bullying at Schools

All students have the right to be safe at school; however, the latest events and data show that not every student is safe. Although bullying is not a specific criminal offense in itself, different aspects of bullying* may be, and it might lead to some horrible events or even irreparable loss.


The concern of whether pupils safety is at risk at schools comes after Australia’s Prime Minister Mr. Turnbull has stepped out and taken action, writing a letter to Australia’s school principals, imploring them to stamp out bullying. He urged principals to register for the March 16 National Day of Action against Bullying and said the problems extend beyond the playground.


‘Bullying and violence have no place in Australia’, Mr. Turnbull said in his letter to schools. Mr. Turnbull was inspired to act after the death of teenager Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, who committed suicide after being targeted by vicious online bullies.


The 14-year-old death – because of the bullying – has made an influence on the nation. People started the campaign and the politicians, and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk put the issue of cyberbullying on the COAG agenda.



But… Is this enough when bullying leads to suicide?


Australia is not the only one country, where bullying happens. The latest YMCA research report published a week ago, revealed that more than half (55%) of young people in the UK are being bullied as well, and 80% of the bullying takes place in school or college surroundings.


Katherine Aspin from Rochdale, who has been in Primary Education for 24 years as a Primary teacher and deputy’s head, said that she is not a judge, but from what she has seen through the years, it is clear that bullying is a problem in the UK.


‘I have been in the education surroundings for the past 13 years as a teacher, and I was supporting and assessing primary teachers and observing in schools for another 11 years. Plus, I am a Vice Chair of Gov at my local primary school; so I am very much aware of the bullying-related issues’, said Mrs. Aspin.


‘School, where I worked, had an anti-bullying strategy outlining what to do when bullying takes place on school property. Most of the schools that I visit have it, but not many people care, whether the strategy is effective enough? At the primary school level, various types of bullying take place: children are pulled, teased, threatened, punched or kicked for various reasons. It is typical. Teachers are doing their best to stop abuses but not every time bullies get punished for that due to various reasons, and some parents do not care enough’, said teacher.


It creates an endless circle for the bullies to bully and for the victims to hide. Only more severe punishments would help to break this circle, as every single bully cannot be stopped by the teacher, as explained by Mrs. Aspin. ‘It’s parents, not the teachers’ job to make sure his/her child has good manners,’ added Mrs. Aspin.


As most of the bullying focus on weight and body shape or general appearance of how students look, parents could actually easily reduce the issue ‘indulging’ the manners for their children. At the moment, the issue needs extra control as two-fifths of those affected experience bullying because of appearance at least once a week, shows latest YMCA research report.


The effect of this type of bullying is horrific:


Why do the bullies bully and what is the reason behind bullying?


Young people think bullies have insecurities about themselves or their appearance. They bully because someone is not wearing particular brand shoes, top or a jacket, or does not buy specific crisps and chooses an apple instead. It sounds ridiculous but is a reality.


A pakistani man has shared his story of when he has been a victim of bullying once he was in the 6th class at school. ‘It took me years to recover. It destroyed my self-confidence… I was ridiculed and made fun,’ told the guy, sharing his story with iCov. He also explained Pakistani schools and bullying situation more in-depth.
(Please follow the link to access video story)


However, if in the UK children are being bullied because they wear ‘incorrect’ or ‘not good enough brand’ shoes or hoodies, in other European countries some children are being bullied because they wear ‘too good’ brands while others cannot afford it.


I had the chance to speak with Mrs. Jolanta Jakubauskiene, Secondary School Teacher from Lithuania, who said that here, in Lithuania, bullying happens ‘too often’ and the reasons for that are ridiculous.


‘You can see one or the other kind of bullying every single day. Sometimes I have to be on duty in the school corridors during the breaks between lessons and even though it is just a 15minutes break, I see several bullying incidents during one break…


‘It feels that bullying is on every corner. Someone gets bullied because they speak with ‘wrong’ child, the others – because of the clothing they wear, while some children even get bullied because they study during the break instead of taking some rest – which is actually one of the most common type of bullying between children’, explains teacher.


‘What intrigues me is that children tend to bully those to whom they feel jealous. For example, there is a girl in my class, who is always shy and silent during the lessons because she gets worried about what to say and when to say. Each time she speaks, someone starts bullying her of why she thinks she is ‘that’ smart to say ‘this or that’. Some pupils even start questioning her if she thinks that the idea that she wears such ’good brand’ clothing gives her priority to speak? It looks ridiculous but is a sad reality’, tells Mrs. Jakubauskiene.


Once asked if she thinks that bullying is crossing the line, she said ‘definitely’. ‘As a teacher, I feel very sad that not enough is being done. Even though we have bullying awareness days and events several times per year, it is not enough’, sadly contemplated the teacher.



There are a number of policies in place to stop bullying at schools, but what should be really done to prevent bullying?


Once asked of her opinion about bullying prevention, the teacher said that they discuss this problem with other teachers very often. ‘We believe that uniform would be great solution at least for the common bullying because of someone’s appearance. I believe that wearing the same clothing would reduce bullying because of the brands’, said Mrs. Jakubauskiene.

However, are uniforms a good way to stop bullying?


School uniform began to appear popular in the 1980s in USA, when it was introduced in some urban areas to tackle the problem of ‘kids shooting each other over designer sneakers’. Within Europe, Britain has long been viewed as the country of school uniform.


However, 10 years of research have shown that ‘emphatically there really is no difference between students who are forced to wear uniforms and those who are not’ (BBC). Parliament is the one, which has to step out to reduce the issue, creating solutions to stop bullying for all.



* Harassment or threatening behaviour could be an offence under the Harassment Act 1997.  Sending an offensive electronic communication could be an offence under the Malicious Communication Act 1988.


Berta Balsyte



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