Change Starts With Us: Anti-Bullying Week 2019

Written by: Olivia Foster | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

We have collective responsibility to reduce bullying and this year’s Anti-Bullying Week is encouraging us all to take this responsibility seriously. Olivia Foster explains

Bullying rarely happens in isolation. There are many individuals and organisations that will see it happening – from teachers, school staff, and pupils to the parents who hear about it, to the online social media platforms where bullying messages are posted. There are clear markers where others could stop and think, offer support and speak out.

We talk a lot about the worrying numbers of children experiencing bullying each day, but this year we want to talk about the changes we can make to help reduce bullying and respond to it appropriately when it does happen.

During a time when school-age students are protesting for change – such as climate activist Greta Thunberg and movements like the Extinction Rebellion – the power of taking action is evident.

But can we harness this to try and reduce incidents of bullying – both face-to-face and online?

Whether it is verbal or physical, online or in-person, bullying has a significant impact on a child’s life well into adulthood. The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) is urging action for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week and saying that if we work together and make small changes, we can make a big difference and break this cycle to create safe environments for young people.

That is why this year’s theme for Anti-Bullying Week (which runs from November 11 to 15) is “Change Starts With Us”.

Following a consultation with more than 1,000 children and 200 teachers, school staff and members of the ABA, it emerged that a top priority was giving pupils, staff, parents and other key players, such as government and industry, the tools to prevent and respond to bullying both online and offline.

We can all make changes to be part of the solution and this year’s theme underlines how everyday acts like listening to young people, having a conversation, thinking about the impact of our words, or stopping before clicking “like” on a hurtful social media post, can help to reduce bullying.

At a time when Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework promotes a tighter focus on the strategies schools put in place to reduce and respond to incidents of bullying, it is important that we take the opportunity and focus on promoting what works.

Building on the theme, the ABA has produced a range of free resources to help teachers promote respect during Anti-Bullying Week, including lesson plans, assembly ideas and teaching packs.

We have developed many resources to help schools focus on online bullying. Online bullying is weaved throughout our school packs and our Stop Speak Support resources. These were developed with the support the Duke of Cambridge and the Royal Foundation via its Royal Cyberbullying Taskforce, which was set up by the Duke of Cambridge himself.

We know that many young people do not see a difference between the “online world” and face-to-face interaction, but it is vital that we do not forget that research shows the majority of online bullying starts face-to-face first (Wolke et al, 2017).

We know it is important to focus on what works in tackling bullying. This is why we are holding once again this year our School Staff Award, aimed at recognising those inspiring members of the school workforce who go the extra mile to support pupils and prevent bullying.

Pupils can nominate school staff and every nominated professional will receive a certificate. Two eventual winners – one from primary and one secondary – will be presented with their prize in Parliament during Anti-Bullying Week. The deadline for nominations is September 27.

We hope that this year’s Anti-Bullying Week will start a change that will reverberate for years to come and inspire schools, pupils, parents, government and online industry to show that small changes can make big differences in reducing bullying.

It is an empowering message and we hope that pupils, schools, and indeed government and the wider world, will choose to make a change, however small, and make a difference.

Remember, change starts here, change starts now, change starts with us.

  • Olivia Foster is from the Anti-Bullying Alliance, which organises the Anti-Bullying Week activities.

Further information & resources

  • To find out how you can get involved in Anti-Bullying Week, sign up free as a supporter, access details about the School Staff Award, and access free lesson ideas, posters, videos and more, visit
    www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week
  • Cyberbullying: A storm in a teacup? Wolke, Lee & Guy, European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, February 2017.


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