United we stand for Anti-Bullying Week

If parenting superpowers were a thing, then banishing bullying would be among them.

It’s something we all hope we never have to deal with but sadly shows no signs of waning and no generation of youngsters is immune.

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Anti-Bullying Week, which this year runs from November 16 to 20, offers an opportunity for schools and families to talk about the problem and try to tackle it together.

‘United Against Bullying’ is the theme of the week, which reaches across the UK.

“It’s clear that bullying remains a significant problem for many children across the country, and we know that these experiences can have a lasting impact well into adulthood,” said Martha Evans, director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, which is behind the campaign.

“But this year we have witnessed the power that people can have when they unite to tackle a common challenge. If we are serious about reducing bullying, we have to harness that energy and work together. Be it online, in the community or in school, we all have a part to play and it's time we came together, friends and family, classmates and colleagues, and unite against bullying.”

The week begins with Odd Socks Day on Monday November 16, when in a salute to individuality, people are encouraged to wear odd socks to school or work to express themselves and celebrate what makes everyone unique.

For little people (although it is also highly recommended for grown-ups in need of a lockdown lift), the official video for Anti-Bullying Week 2020 is out now on YouTube and offers a rallying cry to the nation’s children to unite against bullying.

Recorded by CBeebies presenter Andy Day and his band, Andy and the Odd Socks, the cover of Sham 69’s The Kids Are United features Princess K and the Libera Choir with all proceeds going to the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

The track is inspired by conversations with school children conducted by the band over Zoom ahead of the summer break.

Andy and the band also relied upon the skills of teachers from schools across the country to film the children who took part in the video.

“Some of the lyrics were inspired by Zoom calls the band and I did with school kids who told us what United Against Bullying meant to them,” said Andy Day.

“Hundreds of school kids and teachers sent us the clips of them dancing to the track, all filmed in their bubbles. This was truly collaborative and creative and made in challenging times and we are so unbelievably proud of it. It feels very emotional.”

For parents and carers, knowing how to tackle the problem of bullying can be as challenging as trying to understand what drives the perpetrators.

Claire Hopkins, child psychotherapist and spokesperson for the Association of Child Psychotherapists, said: “Children who intentionally seek to upset or demean others often do so because they hold intolerable amounts of shame and self-loathing inside. This can be due to the child experiencing repeated incidences of fear or anxiety which they could not control.

“By bullying others, children can rid themselves of these feelings and instead see them in the eyes of others. This brings about temporary relief and helps the child to feel that he/she is in control. Sadly, however, this is only a momentary state as the initial cause of the shame and self-loathing has not been diminished so the child seeks to repeat the incidences of bullying over and over again, in an attempt to solve the initial problem.

“Victims of bullying also tend to have elements of low self-esteem, are uncertain about their identities or do not have sufficient or robust coping skills as yet to manage direct challenges to themselves. As the bully holds very similar feelings, they can quickly recognise them in others and seek to target their attacks on those aspects of the victim that will elicit the greatest amount of anxiety or shame.”

Help is at hand for parents and carers to help them support their children and bring Anti-Bullying Week to life this year.

To find out more visit www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week/parents-and-carers.

The video can be seen here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6hR6rTHFSk