Anti-Bullying Week 2016: Use your Power for Good

Written by: Anna Feuchtwang | Published:
Image: iStock

Anti-Bullying Week this year is encouraging students and others to use their ‘Power for Good’. Anna Feuchtwang explains

As a teacher, you probably have days where you feel powerful and in control, and other days where you’ve lost it and pupils/colleagues/parents/Ofsted are dragging you into a vortex. Power dynamics are part of the fabric of school life and are evident in every class, playground, corridor and staffroom. Power dynamics are also fundamental to how we define, understand and take action against bullying.

Anti-Bullying Week, coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), is taking place from November 14 to 18 and this year the theme is Power for Good. The key aims of the week are:

  • To support children and young people to use their Power for Good by understanding the ways in which they are powerful and encouraging individual and collective action to stop bullying.
  • To encourage all school staff to use their Power for Good by valuing the difference they can make in a child’s life and taking individual and collective action to prevent bullying and create safe environments.
  • To help parents and carers to use their Power for Good through supporting children with issues relating to bullying and working together with schools to stop bullying.

ABA defines bullying as “the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power”. This Anti-Bullying Week we want to support schools to explore with pupils what we mean by an imbalance of power, sending a positive message that we all have a choice to use our Power for Good.

Teachers have a vital role in being alert to imbalances of power between pupils. This can manifest itself in many ways and change over time. We know that certain pupils are significantly more likely to be bullied and be subject to abuses of power.

For example, research from ABA with more than 8,000 pupils in England found that one in three SEND children were victims of frequent bullying and that children who were eligible for free school meals were more likely to be victims of frequent bullying then those who were not eligible. We also know that opportunities to abuse power online in the form of cyber-bullying – whether it’s by sending embarrassing images and videos of others, or publicly denigrating another pupil, teacher or parent – is all too common.

So what can be done about it? As a teacher you are in a powerful role and you can make a very real difference in the lives of the children you see day-in, day-out. You have an opportunity to model strength, commitment and kindness; to be alert to power dynamics between your pupils, taking steps to even the balance, and to act as a champion for all children to feel safe, valued and celebrated within your school community.

The ABA has just launched the Power for Good Award, where students can nominate teachers who go beyond the call of duty to support students with issues relating to bullying, relationships, family life and mental health.
We encourage you to take part in Anti-Bullying Week 2016 and support the Power for Good theme. The ABA website already has logos you can use and the key aims. Over the next weeks and months there will be assemblies and lesson plans, as well as practical advice for teachers, parents and pupils.

Often it only takes one person to change the course of someone’s life – and for many of us that person was a teacher.

  • Anna Feuchtwang is chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau. Visit www.ncb.org.uk

Further information

For more about Anti-Bullying Week 2016 including the Power for Good Award and a film competition for schools, visit www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week or @ABAonline


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