Campaigners are urging UK schools to celebrate what makes pupils unique during Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 Nov) as a new poll of more than 1,600 eight- to 16-year-olds in England found that over half (52 per cent) worry about being seen as ‘different’ from others, and 40 per cent would hide or change aspects of themselves for fear of being bullied.
The poll, published by the Anti-Bullying Alliance based at the National Children’s Bureau, shows that while the majority of children (96 per cent) think it is important to be yourself, of the two-fifths of children who would conceal something about themselves, 61 per cent said they would hide or change the way they look to avoid being bullied.
Worryingly, 64 per cent of children polled have come across someone being bullied because they were different — with children in primary school only marginally less likely to have done so than those in secondary school, suggesting that bullying behaviour can start at an early age. Despite this, more than a third (36 per cent) said that teachers didn’t do enough to educate them about what to do if bullying happened to them.
The poll also found that 41 per cent of children would keep quiet if someone else was being bullied because they didn’t want to be bullied themselves.
During Anti-Bullying Week, supported this year by award winning British technology company SafeToNet, children in schools across the country will be sending the message loud and clear that they are ‘All Different, All Equal’.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance’s patron — children’s television star and frontman of children’s rock’n’roll band Andy and the Odd Socks, Andy Day — is getting children talking about celebrating what makes everyone unique in a fun way by encouraging children to wear ‘Odd Socks for Anti-Bullying Week’ and raise money for anti-bullying charities. Andy and the Odd Socks new single ‘Unique’ is being released to mark the beginning of Anti-Bullying Week 2017.
Martha Evans, Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said:
This poll shows that some children are worried about being themselves for fear of bullying. They worry about many things that might make them ‘stand out’ including their appearance, disability, culture, or religion. It is so important that we learn to celebrate the things that make us all different, and are clear that it is never okay to bully someone.
Anti-Bullying Week is sending the message we are “All Different, All Equal” and we hope to provide a platform for children, teachers and parents, to raise awareness of what to do if you are being bullied, or see it happening to someone else. We are delighted to be working on such a positive campaign being celebrated by pupils, parents, schools and anti-bullying organisations across the country.
Andy Day, of Andy and the Odd Socks, said:
We are over the moon to be supporting Anti-Bullying Alliance on such an incredibly important issue as Anti-Bullying Week. Our songs are all about being unique and appreciating others’ unique qualities. Whilst this poll paints a worrying picture, encouraging acceptance of individuality at an early age can help prevent bullying from taking root. We are in a privileged position that enables us to influence younger children’s behaviour for good. Odd Socks Day is such a simple awareness raiser and we really hope schools will get on board.
Richard Pursey, CEO of SafeToNet, said:
We’re all different, this is a defining trait of being human and young people as they grow and mature should not be bullied for what makes them “different”. Social media and the internet have many benefits but young people tell us that they are often worried about the additional pressures to be or look a certain way that the online world brings. SafeToNet is committed to helping create an environment where children who currently choose to hide aspects of their developing personality can use amazing online resources, without fear of bullying.