Quick Reference

The Elton Report on discipline (1989) confirmed that bullying in school was widespread. It recommended greater vigilance on the part of teachers to identify and address such pupil behaviour. Nevertheless, bullying has continued to present a problem in many schools and other educational institutions, although it is difficult to quantify, on the one hand because victims are often reluctant to come forward, and on the other because of a continuing lack of awareness about exactly what behaviours constitute bullying. All schools, colleges, and universities are required to have an anti‐bullying policy, which will normally also cover the bullying of teachers by other teachers or managers. The policy must conform to the Equality Act 2006, which makes some forms of bullying—for example, on the grounds of sexual orientation or religious beliefs—liable to prosecution. In extreme cases which have been reported, bullying at school has led to pupils attempting or committing suicide. As a result, a number of organizations, such as ChildLine, offer advice and support for victims of bullying, while web sites such as Bullying UK, Donthideit, and the unfortunately named Bully OnLine have been designed specifically to help victims by offering definitions of bullying behaviour and encouraging them to report incidents. Since the use of mobile phones and home computers has become widespread, various forms of cyberbullying have developed, which are more difficult for teachers to see and prevent. These include the sending of malicious texts and the practice known as ‘happy slapping’, in which perpetrators carry out a physical attack on their victim while making a visual recording of the incident on their mobile phone for sending to others. Growing concerns about all types of bullying are reflected in the fact that in 2007 an anti‐bullying week was introduced; and that a web site has been set up by the Department for Children, Schools, and Families (DfES) called Don't Suffer in Silence, which presents advice to schools in relation to their mandatory duty to address the issue. This includes reminders that all schools should cover cyberbullying in their anti‐bullying policy; that the curriculum should cover instruction in the dangers of new technologies; that schools must monitor all on‐site electronic communication, and extend this to off‐site communication if this involves a school activity; that they must have a clear policy on phone use within school; that they should employ Internet blocking technologies where appropriate; and that security systems such as firewalls should be in place to prevent information about pupils or staff from being accessed from outside the school.

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/bullying/ An introduction to the DfES anti‐bullying web site, and information on tackling cyberbullying.

Subjects: Education.

Reference entries