National Bullying Awareness Week

This is national bullying awareness week, a time when events across the country will draw increased awareness to the growing problem of bullying in our schools and communities. This is a real problem. Bullying has always been an issue, but in the age of the internet the reach of bullies is greater and it is more difficult for those who are bullied to escape their tormenters. The word ‘bullying’ itself may be a bit imprecise, since it can cover everything from a bit of pushing by another kid at the playground to ongoing sexual harassment by a stranger online. All bullying needs to be addressed - but especially in its most extreme and dangerous forms.
Many schools have stepped up to develop stronger anti-bullying policies, and this is a good thing. Anti-bullying policies, to be effective, need to be comprehensive in every respect. In other words, they need to include all different kinds of bullying, whatever the ‘grounds’ on which someone is bullied, and they need to include everyone in the solution. Some bullying approaches today have focussed on identifying specific ‘grounds’ of bullying, but the behaviour matters more than the theoretical ‘grounds’ on which bullying occurs. All bullying is unacceptable, regardless of the characteristics of the victim. Anti-bullying measures also need to include parents as part of the solution. Many parents may not know how to prevent bullying on the internet, so schools should offer opportunities for parent and child education, and thus create opportunities for parent-child dialogue about the internet, safety, and bullying.
Bullying is an issue for everyone to be concerned about. Focussing on all bullying, and engaging parents in the process will go a long way to addressing this problem.

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