Published on: November 16, 2020
by Wellbeing Worker, Pip Nix
Every Year the Anti-bullying Alliance encourages us all to come together and take a stance against bullying, this year the week will take place from Monday 16th – Friday 20th November 2020.
Bullying UK, part of Family Lives raises awareness of anti-bullying including their #WearBlue4Wellbeing day was on the 13th November. Bullying can affect emotional health, so this year Bullying UK focused their wear blue campaign to help boost emotional wellbeing.
This week is one that is close to my heart, from being a child to a young person bullying was a part of my life. I went to three primary schools, one secondary school and finally college and university. Throughout most of my education, and also away from school, I was bullied.
I was definitely the ‘weird’ kid in my year! I didn’t follow the normal ‘trends’ that my peers seemed to gravitate towards; I liked rock music rather than current pop stars, I dressed ‘alternatively’ and steered far away from current fashion favourites and generally walked to the beat of my own drum!
These differences that made me who I was (and indeed, still am) set me apart from the rest of my peers. Rather than our differences being celebrated, they were used to exclude. Most of my school days I was made to feel worthless and alone. My ‘weirdness’ was not something to be embraced but rejected, it was made clear to me day in and day out that I simply did not fit the mould. As the internet advanced so did the bullying, emails and instant messages meant that there was little to no escape. As you can imagine this took a huge toll on my self-esteem and ultimately my mental health paid a very high price. If I am being completely honest about my experience, the impact on my self-esteem is something I still battle with today. Every now and then the rip tide and self-doubt runs through me, even 15 years down the line and with many other battles won.
At the time I felt I was presented with a choice: change all the parts of myself that made me so different to fit in or remain true to myself regardless. Either way I realised I would not find the happiness and sense of belonging I craved. Each path seemed to come with its own amount of misery – so why not try to carry on and still be me? There are so many of our children and young people who are bullied for things they cannot change, for instance; the colour of their skin – black and ethnic minority students in secondary schools in 2018 reported more bullying for their looks and feeling less safe at school than in 2016 (Growing Up In North Yorkshire 2018.) For being LGBTQ – with 51% of our Trans students being bullied for being Trans (Stonewall School Report 2017). For having a disability – 83% of our young people with learning difficulties have experienced bullying (Anti Bullying Alliance.) All of these are differences that should be celebrated. This year’s theme of United Against Bullying comes at a crucial time for us, a year where this has been brought to our forefront by the likes of Black Lives Matter. Now more than ever, we must come together and keep the momentum going.
The parts of me that made me so different in my youth are still there to this day. I wear my rainbow hair and tattoos with pride, my style of dress has refined but is still very much unique and I will always listen to my rock music loud! I embrace my individuality with both hands, and a big part of this has been finding friends who share all these interests with me. I found a place to belong, I found acceptance. As soon as this came along it gave me a strength to carry on. This is something that all of us deserve to have in our lives and I hope that Anti-Bullying Week is a reminder of that, for us all.
Here are some brilliant resources that explore different kinds of bullying and their impact, all of these are free to use:
- Papyrus Bedtime Stories. This is a very hard-hitting short film suitable for young people. It really brings home the impact of Cyber Bullying. You can watch it here
- Jesy Nelson – Odd One Out “Little Mix star Jesy Nelson goes on a journey of rehabilitation as she opens up about abuse, she has suffered at the hands of cyberbullies and its effects on her mental health.” You can watch this documentary on iPlayer here
- Anti-Bullying Alliance have produced a range of resources including lesson and assembly plans. They have done separate packs for primary and secondary schools and they are completely free. They can be accessed here
- Bullying UK have created a series of interactive videos to explore the issues around bullying. The viewer can make different choices from the perspective of the bully, the victim, and the friends. There is also a discussion sheet that can be downloaded to accompany the videos. They can be accessed here