I am a staff member and a student has come to me to tell me they’re being bullied. What can I do?

*When a young person comes to talk to you about any issue related to bullying remind them that anything they tell you will be kept confidential if they want it to, unless you feel that the information that they tell jeopardises their safety.

1) Firstly thank them for coming to you and speaking out about it and tell them that you are here to listen and help improve the situation. Re-iterate that anyone can be bullied and that they are not alone.

2) As them to tell you what they mean they are being bullied and what has been happening and how this has made them feel. Ask them how frequently it has been happening or whether it is a one off. This will help you establish whether it is bullying. If they do not feel comfortable verbally telling you the story you might to encourage them to write it in a letter or to draw it.

Advise them:

  • Not to retaliate to the bullying, especially in a way that will get them on trouble.
  • To set up a positive coping mechanism with them to help them try not to react to the bullying. It may be as simple as counting to ten when the bullying is happening.
  • To take themselves out of the situation as quickly as possible and to go somewhere safe even if this means standing next to someone they trust or going to the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.
  • To find out who the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in their school are and how they can help the student.

3) After they’ve explained everything to you ask them what they would like to do next. It is really important that they feel some sense of ownership over the situation and aren’t forced to do anything they don’t want to.

4) Report it to the appropriate member/s of staff and ask them to keep an eye on the student

5) When dealing the with the student who has done the bullying act according to your school’s Anti-Bullying Policy and what the student being bullied wants to do.

Depending on the situation you might want to consider:

  • Setting up weekly or daily meetings with them to check they are ok until the situation improves. It is really important that they feel strongly supported by someone and that they are continuing to talk to someone and not suffering in silence.
  • Telling the student where they can go where there will always be someone to talk to or they can stay for a while if they want to go somewhere they feel safe.
  • Depending on the severity of the bullying report the bullying to their parents.
  • Encouraging them not to be alone and buddy them up with a trusted student. Don’t tell the student the full story but ask them to make sure they keep an eye on the student and include them, especially at break times.
  • Encourage the student to keep a diary or log of events related to the bullying.
  • Find out what they enjoy doing to take their mind off it and encourage them to do it.
  • Get them involved in a club at lunchtimes related to this interest to keep them away from the bully and encourage them to have some fun. You may want to consider giving them a mini project yourself.

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My school is new to the programme and we want to set up a good system for students to report bullying. Any advice?

One of the most important things that a school needs to have to help combat bullying is to set up an effective and anonymous way to report it. Many schools we have trained have set up email addresses or phone numbers where students can report incidents of bullying.

Make sure that ALL students know what these are, who the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors are and which staff members they can talk to. You may want to put this information on a sticker and put them on all of the student’s homework planners.

You could also set up a Bully Box. This is a locked box with a slot where students can post if they have been bullied or have seen someone being bullied. Either staff or Anti-Bullying Ambassadors can go through the box each day and deal with each report. 

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A student has disclosed they are being Cyber Bullied through social media. I’m not social media savvy and not sure what to advise?

Cyber bullying is not the easiest thing to deal with; you may not be online savvy and often cyber bullying happens out of school hours. However because cyber bullying can happen to a person 24/7 it can make them feel incredibly helpless, alone and isolated and needs to be dealt with.

If someone tells you they’re being cyber-bullied reassure them that it is not their fault, it will improve and thank them for speaking out about it. In line with your school antibullying policy contact the parents of the child and speak to the child protection officer assigned to the school. Find out how the student wants to handle the situation, what outcome do they want? Ask them what steps the child has taken so far to deal with the bullying and offer practical advice. You can give them the following advice:

If the bullying is online they have a number of options. On most sites you can block the person and report them. To learn how to report or block someone on Facebook click here, on Twitter on Snapchat

If they are experience bullying via texts messages or they are experience nasty phone calls there are some measures in place to help them.  

Alternatively if you have another phone you can contact your network provider and ask them to block a number from contacting you, this is very simple and takes around 10 to 15minutes. If they are experiencing abusive calls suggest putting their phone on speaker when they are with someone you trust so they can understand/hear what is going on.                           

Tell them:

  • Not to retaliate to the bullying as the bullies will be looking for a reaction. If they don’t react hopefully they will eventually get bored.
  • Save all evidence of the bullying by screen grabbing the image on your phone or print screening it on your computer. You do this my clicking the prtscrn button and pasting the image into a document.
  • Don’t share any information publicly about your home address or contact details
  • Encourage them to keep you updated with what is happening and to make a log of events.

Cyber bullying comes under a law called the Malicious Communications Act 1988. If this issue can’t be resolved quickly and is affecting their safety, it can be reported to the police and they can investigate it as a crime. 

My boss at work is bullying me and I don't know what to do.

I'd like to think that bullying doesn't happen in the workplace, but sadly it does. 1 in 3 adults get bullied at work. That's one of the main reasons we do so much in schools so that young people can learn how to treat each other in their adult lives. Bullying at work is very difficult as it's your livelihood and there are many different social groups/hierarchy/chain of commands etc. that all have an impact on your work. Our biggest piece of advice has to be to find someone you can speak to about this. Perhaps it's a Human resources staff member, perhaps at the start it's just a colleague that you can chat to about it over a cup of tea. Your office might have a policy or document on bullying/harassment at work, in a staff handbook? Try and source this. You might even consider getting some advice from a union or members organisation and even legal advice if serious. Although it may be hard, you don't have to suffer in silence, bullying in the workplace is not acceptable and there have been many cases of tribunals and dismissals as a result. You should do what you feel comfortable with, but find someone you trust and can share this with them. If that's really hard then why not pick up the phone to the Samaritans, phone a friend or even search on the internet for some advice. If you feel confident then approach your boss, but practice what you want to say first with a friend and maybe even ask or someone to accompany you. They might not realise what they are doing and the effect it is having on you. Keep a log of events to help support any complaints you want to make.

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