‘One Kind Word’ vital to counter the bullying suffered by one in five children

  • Millions of children and adults are taking part in Anti-Bullying Week: One Kind Word (15 to 19 Nov) and Odd Socks Day starting today
  • 1 in five children are experiencing frequent bullying
  • Disabled children and those with SEN are significantly more likely to be bullied
  • The Anti-Bullying Alliance calls for ‘One Kind Word’ to kick start a chain-reaction of kindness

As three-quarters of schools in the UK – over 7 million children and young people – celebrate Anti-Bullying Week and Odd Socks Day, campaigners are asking young and old alike to focus on the importance of acts of kindness, starting with ‘One Kind Word’.

The kindness message is likely to resonate with supporters who lit up last year’s Anti-Bullying Week campaign on social media when it trended at No.1 on Twitter, got 600,000 downloads on YouTube, and reached 44m users of TikTok.

Kindness is an important part of children’s daily lives. A survey of 1,100 children by Kidscape, an Anti-Bullying Alliance member, working with BounceTogether – shows three-quarters of children (74%) say pupils in school are kind to them and over ninety percent (94%) say they are kind to others.

However, the findings also suggest that some children do not experience kindness in the same way, with disabled children and those with additional needs three times more likely to say that pupils in school are not kind to them (9%) compared to their non-disabled peers (3%).

On the other side of the coin, results from a different questionnaire completed by nearly 15,000 pupils, published by the Anti-Bullying Alliance to mark Anti-Bullying Week, show a significant number of children are suffering frequently from bullying.

One in five (21%) pupils in England report being bullied a lot or always, with 1 in 22 (4.6%) – the equivalent of one in every classroom – saying they are frequently hit, kicked or pushed by other children.

Other findings include:

  • 1 in 12 (8.3%) children say that other pupils frequently tease them.
  • 1 in 14 (7.3%) pupils say they are frequently called hurtful names by other children.
  • 1 in 16 (6.3%) children report being frequently picked on by other pupils because they are ‘a bit different’

The questionnaire, analysed by Goldsmith University, was completed by children between September 2020 and March 2021. It indicates that rates of bullying increased to 30% for children with special educational needs and disabilities and 27% for children in receipt of free school meals.

A growing body of research evidence shows that severe and frequent bullying can have a long-lasting impact on children’s mental wellbeing and development.

Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said:

Our questionnaire has shown that a significant proportion of children are frequently on the receiving end of bullying behaviours. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we are alert to hurtful behaviour, encourage upstanders, and role model kindness and respect  even when we don’t always agree, we can break down barriers and brighten the lives of the people around us.

So, let’s join millions across the country having conversations about bullying and kindness and start a chain reaction of positivity starting with ‘One Kind Word’.

Children and Families Minister, Will Quince, said:

“Bullying in any form is never acceptable, whether it be in the classroom, in the playground or online. It can have a huge impact on the lives of young people and their families. That’s why Anti-Bullying Week is so vital – enabling us to come together in a united stance against bullying.

“I’m pleased to see that over three quarters of pupils say others are kind to them, but there’s more we can do to improve this number. The introduction of relationships education will teach pupils how to treat others with respect and where to get help if they are being bullied. I want to encourage everyone to share ‘One Kind Word’ so that we continue to work together to end put a stop to bullying.”

Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO of Kidscape, said:

Our survey showed that kindness matters to children and that on the whole they have a positive experience of school life. The challenge lies in understanding why a sizeable minority continue to experience unkindness and bullying, particularly disabled children and those with additional needs, and we urgently need to create an environment where all children feel that they belong.

Bob Wilkinson, Managing Director at BounceTogether, said:

“We’re encouraged that the overwhelming number of schools who took part in our Kindness Surveys will now be armed with a richer understanding of their community’s experience of kindness. It’s imperative that we give children and young people the opportunity to voice their experiences so we can have an informed conversation about bullying and relationships in schools. Schools have found running the survey to be a perfect way to do this. What really stood out was the wisdom shown by the young people who took part in how to address these issues. As adults, we must listen to them and include our children in providing the solution.”

Anti-Bullying Alliance patron, CBBC and CBeebies star Andy Day, will be right behind the campaign again with his band Andy and the Odd Socks. The band has released a rocking new tune, ‘One Kind Word’, to celebrate Odd Socks Day on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week. The video includes children from across the country. Last year we saw the likes of Ant and Dec, Craig David and Emma Willis in their odd socks. There’s a serious message behind the fun: let’s put on our odd socks to show we’re ALL unique and different, and let’s be kind to each other and respect each other’s individuality.

Children’s TV star Andy Day said:

“Pulling on a couple of odd socks might not seem like much, but it’s an opportunity to encourage people to express themselves and celebrate their individuality in their own unique way! 

“This year we want to spread the message that one kind word can lead to another and together we can help stop bullying. So we hope to see you wearing your most colourful odd socks this Anti-Bullying Week on Monday 15th November.”

Find out more at www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/antibullyingweek and get involved on social media using #AntiBullyingWeek #OneKindWord #OddSocksDay @ABAonline.

SEN Magazine
Author: SEN Magazine

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