September has come, the summer holidays are officially over, and the new school year has begun. For many school children though, the excitement of seeing their friends and catching up after a summer of adventures can be dwarfed by an all too familiar elephant in the class-room. Bullying.
Almost half of all children will experience bullying in one form or another before their 18th birthday. In fact, I imagine as you’re reading this article, you are remembering that person at school who seemed to make it their life mission to make you miserable.
For me, one person springs to mind and on a particular occasion if it wasn’t for the brave intervention of a group of friends I dread to think how it may have turned out.
Unfortunately though, many school children returning to the classroom this week won’t feel like they’ve got friends looking after them, and with growing number of platforms and opportunities for bullying to take place in private, too many children are carrying the weight of being bullied on their own.
Each year over 16,000 children are absent from school because of bullying and a horrifying 30% of school pupils will self-harm over the course of the new academic year after being bullied.
One thing I’ve always wondered, being a youth leader, is how on earth do I tackle bullying in a meaningful and lasting way. Recently, I’ve had a revelation. We just need to talk. Not a youth worker consoling a young person being bullied kind of talk, or a youth worker reprimanding a bully kind of talk. But a victim of bullying and bully meeting together kind of talk.
Harmer & harmed sat in a safe environment talking about bullying – talking about why they bully, how it makes the victim feel. Could the answer be this simple? And could the principles used in our ROC Restore projects be used to help relieve issues of bullying in schools?
On the 14th & 15th November, during anti-bullying week, we are partnering with the restorative justice group SynRJ to host a conference to discuss just that – how Restorative Justice principles can help change the atmosphere in a school environment. If you are involved in working with young people in schools, youth groups or any other regular activity, we would love to invite you to join us to find out more about how RJ can benefit your young people.