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Anti-Bullying Week: Celebrating The Differences In All Of Us

However you choose to approach it, bullying is something that every school wants to be able to eliminate. A number of bullying charities in the UK have quite a heavy focus on school-age bullying, and statistics on bullying in these settings are not difficult to find.

This year, November 13th – 17th is Anti-Bullying Week and is being coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. There are a variety of themes to explore from the many charities taking part, with resources available to suit your age/audience. BulliesOut are asking people to ‘go purple’, Kidscape are celebrating Friendship Friday, and the Anti-Bullying Alliance is encouraging people to support All Different, All Equal.

Identity-based bullying (also commonly known as discrimination or discriminatory bullying) is a huge problem, with 1 in 3 students saying they have been bullied because of their identity on a regular basis [source]. It doesn’t stop after school is out, either; the same research found that adults who experienced bullying at school were more likely to access mental health services from adolescence.

In a growing digital world where identity politics seems to expand on a regular basis, the scope of discriminatory bullying is becoming more difficult to define, but there are some particular identity groups that are often subject to persistent discriminatory bullying.

Despite an increasingly multicultural world where heritages of all types are celebrated, a number of people still experience bullying based on their race. In a report released by Ditch The Label, 10% of young people surveyed said that they believed race was a factor in their experience with bullying.  

In the same survey, 4% of young people said they thought their religion was the reason for them being bullied. Discrimination in this category is based on ridicule of someone’s beliefs, whether perceived or actual.

Bullying based on gender is an issue that follows a lot of people into adulthood. The Ditch The Label survey results show a huge 57% of female respondents had been bullied compared with 49% of males. Unwanted attention (often sexual in nature) falls under the category of gender discrimination.

People that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or another identity experience significant bullying; a report by Stonewall found that nearly half of all LGBT-identifying students had been subject to abusive behaviour at some point. Furthermore, 1 in 10 trans pupils have had death threats at school.

The Ditch The Label report shows that 75% of special educational needs pupils with Asperger’s/Autism had been victims of bullying, while 70% of students with a physical disability had been bullied. Research conducted by the University of London actually found that children with special educational needs are twice as likely to experience bullying throughout their entire life, not just during school.

Combating the problem
Government legislation states that all schools should have a behaviour policy that addresses bullying in all its forms. They must also follow anti-discrimination laws, which includes the identity groups mentioned above. How schools implement their own policy can differ, depending on the size and type of school.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance has released a guide on creating a school culture where students can feel safe with tips on fostering an inclusive community. You can view it here.