Anti-Bullying 2014: Theme Announced!
After the Anti-bullying Alliance recent announcement of this years anti-bullying week theme, company director Cat takes this opportunity to reflect on the issue of bullying and our creative approach to tackling this issue in schools.
Bullying and SEND (special educational needs and/or disability) children in schools.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
(Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom)
Here at Unique Voice we are in the early stages of planning our anti-bullying work for Autumn 2014. We have been inspired by this year’s theme to re-work our well known, successful ‘Triple R’ project to put a strong focus on this emotive subject.
There is never an excuse for bullying, and we are pleased to say Bristol has a zero-tolerance approach in its schools, where anti-bullying interventions like ‘Triple R’ are not only expected, but compulsory.
This fills us with excitement and hope for this year’s theme, as we know our work can really challenge young people’s views and opinions, allowing them see the world through the eyes of others. By using dramatic performance and interactive workshops, children quickly engage in our projects, and through this we have the ability to convey these important messages, which lead to greater empathy and understanding.
Prejudice and discrimination is something that sadly, we all face at some points in our lives, whether it be race, class, culture, gender or ability. I think this is an important message to convey to young people, allowing them to relate their own experiences to those of someone they could potentially, and sometimes unintentionally, bully.
Evidence shows that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are significantly more likely to be bullied or victimised than those who don’t have any SEND. (Anti-Bullying Alliance 2014)
Accepting and understanding human differences can be challenging, not only for young people but for all of us. We have all, for example, encountered someone whose opinion we disagree with wholly, it can be hard to accept that others see life through different eyes. I think it is important for us to reflect on our own opinions & practices before preaching to the children we teach. Opinions and beliefs develop because of the people around us, and it can be easy to be swayed one way or the other especially when you are young and only just beginning to form your own ideas. By being excellent role models we can educate young people on being open minded and accepting of the people around them, which is what we should all strive to do in our every day lives.
Many staff members here at Unique Voice have done a training course named ‘Challenging Disabolism’ at BAND (Bristol Association for Neighborhood Daycare). We will be using a lot of the ideas from what we learned there when developing our Triple R anti-bullying work. A important and, what I think is an extraordinarily powerful analogy that we heard is this:
“If I arrived at a building and the only way to enter is up the stairs, this makes me disabled. However if I arrive at a building and there is a ramp I am as able as anyone else. So it is only the environment and therefore attitudes of those around us that defines us.”
I believe that helping children to take responsibility for their own attitudes towards their SEND peers could make a significant difference to the issues of bullying. So, rather than seeing a vulnerable person as helpless, lets see a person who is vulnerable as such only because of the attitudes of those around them. By highlighting the fact that everyone is different, we can start a cultural shift within the schools towards decreasing the victimisation of SEND students, and indeed everyone else.
Triple R – Recognise, Report, Resolve.
Unique Voice CIC – Core Member