New research finds kids facing “with us or against us” choice
Children are being pressured into bullying to avoid becoming the next target themselves, according to a new survey by leading parenting support groups.
The survey of 1,000 children aged 7-14 in England, released today by Advisory Centre for Education and Netmums to mark the start of Anti-Bullying Week, asked kids whether they had ever been involved in bullying and why.
Nearly half (43%) of children who admitted to hitting, kicking or punching another child said they did it because they were dared by friends or were worried they’d be picked on if they didn’t. Over a third (37%) admitted calling other children names because everyone else did it or they thought they’d be left out otherwise.
Peer pressure seems to be more keenly felt at particular ages – of the 65% of 10 year olds who say they have kicked, hit or punched a child, the overwhelming majority (79%) did so because their friends dared them. This compares with just 3% of those 14 year olds who admitted to doing the same.
Among the other main findings were:
• 50% admit to calling other children names
• 40% of children confess to hitting, kicking or punching another child
• Almost half (47%) admit to being bullied themselves at some point
What makes a bully?
The survey also showed that there is some confusion over what constitutes bullying. Although only 16% of children surveyed saw themselves as bullies, the majority (64%) agreed that name calling was bullying and half (50%) admitted they had called other children names.
Similarly, whilst only half (47%) said they had been bullied themselves, three quarters (75%) of children said they had been called names and 70% said other children have been mean to them.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums says; “The research found that most children think of bullies as big, tough thugs with skinheads, and this may be part of the reason why they don’t recognise that their own behaviour could be seen as bullying. There are many reasons why children bully and negative peer pressure and a fear of being picked on themselves are some of the main reasons. Children feel they need to ‘fit in’ and they may feel forced into bullying others in case they get left out of the crowd. As parents, the best thing we can do is build up our kids’ self esteem so that they feel strong enough to stand up and say no when they think certain behaviour is wrong.”
Encouragingly, when asked what they would do if they saw another child being bullied, a fifth (21%) said they would step in and over half (55%) said they would tell a teacher or another adult.
Angie Fenn from the Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) says: "Every school has a duty in law to prevent all forms of bullying, but sometimes parents need to be quite focused and persistent to get the situation resolved. It's best to assume that it may take time and a few meetings with teachers, the head and possibly the governors before it's sorted out.”
Try working with the school to end the bullying by taking the following steps:
• Ask the school for a copy of their anti-bullying policy, it may be part of their behaviour policy. All schools must have one.
• Make a bullying report so you can be as clear as possible about what has happened to your child.
• Write a letter to the Head of your child’s school describing what has been happening. Ask to have a meeting to discuss the situation.
• Prepare for the meeting by writing down your questions before you meet school staff. This will allow you to get across all your points of view.
• After the meeting, monitor the situation, if things don’t improve you can make a formal complaint to the Governors of the school.
• You're not alone, many parents go through this situation. As well as seeking help from the school there are support groups, advice lines and websites, like ACE who can help you. Your local GP may also be able to help you and your child.
Advisory Centre for Education
For more information and advice on bullying call the ACE Advice line on 0808 800 5793 open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm or visit www.ace-ed.org.uk and download our booklet: ‘Tackling Bullying’.
To talk to other parents about their experiences of bullying, try visiting www.netmums.com a social networking site connecting parents to each other and services in their area.
- Ends -
Notes to Editors:
• Parent Know How is a £60 million programme from the Department for Children, Schools and Families designed to transform the quality, choice, provision, and awareness of parental information and support services, where needed, to help improve outcomes for children and young people.
• Parent Know How is a programme from the DCSF that works in partnership with third and private sector organisations to support parents. For more information on Parent Know How, please contact DCSF Press Office direct: Public Enquiries 0870 000 2288, email@example.com
• The research of 1,000 children aged 7-11 was carried out across England by One Poll between 4th and 9th November 2009.
For more information on this story or any of the providers please contact: Jenna Gifford on 020 7025 6511 or Suzi Culshaw on 020 7025 6450 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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