Bullying

JAY, 15

DARREN, 17

JAKE, 18

 

ABSTRACT

The aim of this research project is to highlight the issues surrounding homophobic bullying within schools and construct a piece of communicative media that engenders a greater awareness of this issues relating to this specific form of bullying.

There are many aspects of bullying, which have been clearly identified within this research. Bullying behaviour often goes unnoticed and can include; name calling and teasing, damage to belongings, excluding people from social activities, spreading malicious rumours, abusive phone calls, text bullying (via your mobile phone), physical bullying or threats. Verbal Physical Extortion Gesturing Exclusion These forms have a proven detrimental effect on a large percentage of children.  Bullying at its most destructive claims lives.  This is clearly unacceptable.

A broad range of both primary and secondary research has been undertaken, with specific relevance being placed on the National Curriculum, its current structure and policies with regards to educating difference and sexual awareness, bullying and homophobic bullying strategies.  Focus has also centred upon existing and contemporary bullying campaigns with regard to their nature, medium and modes of dissemination.

Aims and Objectives

  • To undertake research in to the varying forms of bulling
  • To focus this research towards the varying forms of bullying within schools
  • To undertake a broad range of both primary and secondary research regarding this topic, with specific relevance being placed upon the National Curriculum
  • To identify and discuss existing mechanisms / structures which are designed to prevent / alleviate these issues within schools
  • To investigate existing policies with regards to educating difference and sexual awareness within the National Curriculum
  • To specifically refine this research towards the issue of homophobic bullying within schools
  • To identify and discuss existing strategies and mechanisms designed to prevent / alleviate these issues
  • To utilise these findings in order to create an effective awareness campaign relating to this specific form of bullying.

WHAT IS BULLYING?

The repeated intimidation of others by the real or threatened infliction of physical, verbal, written, electronically transmitted, or emotional abuse, or through attacks on the property of another. It may include, but not be limited to actions such as verbal taunts, name-calling and put downs, including ethnically-based or gender-based verbal put downs, and extortion of money or possessions.”

Bullying is a complex issue that can manifest itself in many forms. Complete agreement upon one single definition is quite difficult given the nature of the subject and the fact that, in general it is very personal experience and individual specific. This said there remains common agreement and consensus that the effects of bullying are always detrimental and that as Zimmerman et al states “is a major public health issue, the risk factors for which are poorly understood”. It is with this in mind that this research project has been undertaken in an attempt to more fully understand the potential reasons / causes of bullying in general and by doing so ultimately inform and construct an effective awareness campaign that attempts to address these inherent themes and issues.

There are numerous forms and of bullying, however the more mainstream manifestations of bullying can be described as falling into the following main categories*

CLASSIST BULLYING

In classist bullying, a person is targeted for representing a perceived class or socio-economic group. This not only impacts on the individual person, but on their families and others perceived to be from that same group.

DISABILIST BULLYING

People with Special Educational Needs or disabled people may be less able or more reluctant to articulate experiences as well as others. However, they are often at greater risk of being bullied, both directly and indirectly, and usually about their specific difficulties or disability.

HOMOPHOBIC BULLYING

In homophobic bullying, a person is targeted for being perceived as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (trans) person. People do not have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans to suffer homophobic bullying. This bullying not only impacts on the individual person, but on their families and others perceived to be from that same group. It may be based on gender stereotyping.

RACIST AND RELIGIOUS BULLYING

In racist and religious bullying, a person is targeted for being perceived as being a member of a different ethnic, cultural or religious, group. People do not have to be of that group to suffer racist and religious bullying. This bullying not only impacts on the individual person, but on their families and others perceived to be from that same or similar group. Inappropriate assumptions maybe made about some one’s religion or belief because of their ethnic origin.

SEXIST BULLYING

In sexist bullying, a person is targeted for being perceived as being a member of a particular gender. This bullying impacts on the individual person and on all men and women.

*It is important to note that people can be assigned to a member of more than one group.

 

Bullying in effect is a way to cause distress and disrespect either mentally of physically through the continuous tactical use of various passive or aggressive mechanisms.  These can take the form of

PHYSICAL – hitting, kicking, pinching, sexual assault, extortion, stealing, hiding belongings;

VERBAL – name calling, mockery, insulting, making offensive remarks, sexual innuendo, threatening;

INDIRECT – spreading unpleasant stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, rumour mongering, graffiti, defacing of property, display of inappropriate material

In the report entitled “Tackling Bullying” commissioned by ChildLine, funded by the DfES in 2003 saw 1000 children in 12 schools interviewed to establish why, even though the majority of schools have anti bullying policies, children are still calling ChildLine in such vast numbers.  The views of the children and young people detailed that approximately half (51%) of all primary school children and (54%) secondary pupils believed that bullying was either a big or quite a problem. However these findings appear in stark contrast when compared to the actual percentage of children who actually admitted to having personally suffered from some form of bullying themselves within the same report. Here only (28%) of all secondary school children felt that they had directly experienced some form of bullying compared to over half (51%) of all of all primary children questioned.

On a base level these research findings appear to highlight some anomalies. Indeed they even appear to actually contradict one another somewhat. Do these findings show that bullying becomes less severe / prevalent within secondary schools or are there a large proportion (26%) of children within secondary schools suffering in silence?  This attitude from children is reinforced by quotes from adults, such as:

“Bullying is a part of child hood better get used to it”

“Teasing, name-calling, excluding from games and spreading rumours have always happened and always will.”  Anonymous parent

“When nine-year-old Sebastian Clarke came home from school saying another child kept picking on him, his mum Jackie thought he was being a bit soft. ‘My first instinct was that there was no problem, or that it was just something and nothing and he’d soon sort it out,’”

Children therefore are receiving mixed messages.  Why should they report they’re suffering if they are only to be rejected further?  This lack of support from adults only adds to their isolation and misery.  I suggest that adults in caring positions such as parents/guardians and teachers need to readdress their beliefs regarding bullying and try to remove the ideology that has been firmly entrenched that bullying is acceptable and a ‘normal’ way of life. This could be achieved through a more open based form of communication where children and young people’s views are heard rather than dismissed.

It is important then to note that children have other places to turn to anonymously, such as ChildLine.  The ChildLine service counselled 141,872 during the period April 2003 to March 2004, which is a staggering increase of 18% in comparison to the 119,746 who used the service the previous year, April 2002 to March 2003.  According to Government statistics the percentage of people under age 16 fell from “25 per cent in mid-1971 to 19 per cent in mid-2004” so this increase is even more dramatic than it seems, as the youth population is the smallest it has been.  You need to confirm this for the reader.

Summary – children calling about bullying

All figures are calculated for the period 1 April to 31 March.

Table 1

2003/04 2002/03
Age Number of children % of total Number of children % of total
11 & UNDER 8498 27 5658 26
12-15 YEARS 10361 33 6911 32
16-18 YEARS 602 2 380 2
AGE NOT GIVEN * 11616 37 8917 41
TOTAL ALL CHILDREN 31077 100 21866 100

*Many children who call ChildLine choose not to give their age. Percentages are for all

Table 2

BEENBULLIED Not at all Only once or twice Sometimes(2-3 times per month) Once perweek Several times per week
OVERALL 55.5 32.3 4.3 3.8 4.1
BOYS 56.8 30.5 4.9 4.0 3.8
GIRLS 53.9 34.3 3.7 3.6 4.5
BULLYOTHERS
OVERALL 73.4 23.7 1.3 1.0 0.6
BOYS 71.9 24.1 1.7 1.5 0.8
GIRLS 75.1 23.1 0.9 0.5 0.4

 

WHY DO CHILDREN BULLY?

Bullying is a complex issue and the perpetrators who carry out this kind of attack have a varied profile as evidenced by Smith when he states that: “Children who bully others can come from any kind of family, regardless of social class or cultural background.”  There is however a general theme that continues throughout, namely that something or someone is making the bullies feel insecure and self-esteem is incredibly low.  It is understood that some bullies suffer from a lot of distress caused by grief, anxiety, or unhappiness. These bullies are most likely to use fighting, alcohol and drug abuse as mechanisms for dealing with their problems. In simplistic terms these people usually bully in order to make themselves feel better and are in need of immediate support, guidance and help.  In the “Bullying  Symptoms, Strategies and Solutions That Work.” report, ChildLine established 38% of male and 21% of female bullies had suicidal tendencies.  These percentages are evidently a reason for concern but the bullying of others is inexcusable and should clearly be prevented. At the same time we need to work with these children and young people in an attempt to address the roots of the problem as a whole.  Establishing whether they have any grievances at home or school which may be affecting them psychologically, listening to their views.

The bullies’ behaviour is usually with the intent of gaining respect.  This is usually displayed in the form of attention seeking exhibitionism in order to impress, which is at most disruptive and tends to be “defiant”, disrespectful and disapproved by others.  The bully is usually unwilling or unable to recognise and distinguish the difference between respect and fear and in their attempt to gain respect through their intimidating behaviour; they frighten their peers and disrespect their elders.  This behaviour is a form of attack whether passive or aggressive. There is a tendency and inability to accept responsibility for their actions, (although this said I am sure that this could be used across the board with regards to children’s behaviour) combined with a “lack of remorse” and empathy and the addiction to the empowerment they gain from bullying, these people in effect are a destructive force that needs to be challenged.

For some people bullying seems like normal behaviour as they have not been well informed in how to behave and it is thought that bullying takes place as a natural form within their home life.  The bully may well have suffered some form of abuse or are suffering from some form of bullying themselves within their home environment.

There are also bullies who bully through peer pressure whose behaviour is so to fit in with a larger group.  Although this is still a case for concern this type of bully feels remorse for their behaviour, therefore has a conscience and is normally willing to accept responsibility for their actions.

Another factor that could cause a person to bully is the exposure to violence either on television or through video games.  This can have a detrimental effect on a child’s personality.  Anderson states that “playing violent video games has been found to account for a 13% to 22% increase in adolescents’ violent behaviour” however the Committee on Public Education states “there has not been enough time to completely assess the influence they have on the well being of a child as they are so new.”  These games increase a child’s proclivity to violent behaviour far more than passive media such as television.  Television, although not proven to cause aggression, should be limited to only a couple of hours a day.  There needs to be a good balance of parenting, including emotional support for their children and the provision of good stimulation and physical interaction. Children who watch more than this are generally being emotionally neglected.   Browne states “Parents who don’t take a great interest in their children and what they are watching are also those parents who emotionally neglect them or physically assault them”.  These children who are neglected may tend to become more violent which may increase the factor that they go on to be bullies.  Zimmerman suggests that “maximising cognitive stimulation and limiting television watching in the early years of development might reduce children’s subsequent risk of becoming bullies.”

It is impossible then to analyse the outline of all bullies as agreement of a clear diagnosis is incomplete.  We can establish though, everybody is capable of bullying.

WHY ARE CHILDREN BULLIED?

Like the profile for a bully, the target is very varied but again has a connecting factor, this being difference.  This statement seems ridiculous for we are all different and individual which surely should be a positive thing as

”Being different is a gift…”

These differences could be such as weight, social background, race, religion, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, Special Educational Needs or disability, to name a few.  Potential targets tend to be above average academically, high achievers, imaginative and creative.  They are usually quite passive and not as physically powerful as the bully tending to avoid conflict, having a low proclivity to violence.

Children with obvious differences aren’t the only victims of bullying. Some children are victimised because they are different in some way, but many others are bullied for no obvious reason as bullies have a tendency to be opportunistic.

Moldrich writing for ChildLine understands ”that adults tend to believe that people don’t pick on others without cause,” which suggests that it is the targets fault for being bullied, however “ChildLine found in a recent survey that none of the children who admitted to bullying singled out their own or their targets individual characteristics as an explanation.”  This last statement cannot be taken for granted as I established earlier, children who bully do not accept responsibility for their actions.  Admitting to bullying is one thing, (as they are usually proud of their actions) but admitting why, requires honesty and decency and the conscience to realise that what they have done is wrong and unacceptable.

HOMOPHOBIA

The Crown Prosecution describes homophobia as

”A fear of or a dislike directed towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people, or a fear of or dislike directed towards their perceived lifestyle, culture or characteristics, whether or not any specific lesbian, gay or bisexual person has that lifestyle or characteristic. The dislike does not have to be so severe as hatred. It is enough that people do something or abstains from doing something because they do not like lesbian, gay or bisexual people.”

In 1967 Weinberg began calling some of his fellow clinicians homophobes. Homophobia was an expression considered to be an acceptable alternative form, developed more fully in his book, Society and the Healthy Homosexual, published 1972, to refer to the psychological, irrational fear of or a dislike directed towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people.In an interview by Raj Ayyar, George Weinberg is quoted as describing homophobia as:

“Homophobia is just that: a phobia. A morbid and irrational dread, which prompts irrational behaviour flight or the desire to destroy the stimulus for the phobia and anything reminiscent of it. Because human beings are the stimulus, a common homophobic reaction is brutality in many cases, as we all know. We also know its consequences.”

Homophobia is fuelled by the inability or unwillingness to change the hatred taught during childhood.  It is manifested through varying levels, that transfer and filter into primary school children, which creates, the fear of people who are different.  Alongside this is the promotion of homophobia by the various religious organisations that see same sex relationships as a threat to heterosexuality.  How can 6% of the population who cannot breed, and rely on heterosexuals’ procreation threaten humanity?  There is also the natural feeling of repulsion, as a heterosexual would feel with regards to engaging in sexual activity with the same gender.  Although they identify that same sex activity is not for them, some tend to generalise and generate the belief that it is wrong for everybody.  This is where people need educating about difference and clear acceptance needs to be put in place so that people may live their lives how they choose. Not only is homophobia an insidious, groundless fear of homosexuality and its perceived lifestyle but the fear that they themselves may be homosexual or have homosexual thoughts.  This behaviour is most commonly described as “homosexual panic” connecting homophobia with repressed homosexual urges. Researching homophobiaAdams et al found that homophobic men are aroused by homosexual stimuli although the results need more research as it has been found that fear can arouse a man, identifying the possibility that homophobic men are fearful of their own mind and responses thus being less adjusted to non homophobes with regards to sexual difference.

It is these attitudes that filter through society to young children, as they are intuitive and realise that there are definite negative associations with the word gay and being homosexual.  Although they have no inclination what happens sexually between same sex relationships they do understand it is not accepted and undesirable.

WHAT IS HOMOPHOBIC BULLYING?

Homophobic bullying is a particular type of bullying which is related to a person’s sexuality or assumed sexuality.  If young people do not conform to the stereotypical image of the dominant masculine or feminine role, which brings into question their sexual identity or perceived orientation, they will be subjected to this form of abuse.

“Homophobia can be manifested on a number of levels.”

ANTAGONISTIC BEHAVIOUR

This is behaviour that establishes a climate of homophobia, even if it is not intended to do so. 

The telling of jokes featuring homosexuals

The making of unpleasant abstract remarks

The use of innuendo and mockery, e.g. “lesbian time” (for “let’s be on time”)

The casual use of terms of abuse (e.g. Homosexual, bent, fag, faggot, gay-boy, woos, homo, poof, poofter, bender, queer, lesie, lesbo, lemon, dyke….)

The teasing of an individual rightly or wrongly identified as gay in a manner that they are thought, or claim, not to care about

 

PREJUDICIAL BEHAVIOUR AND POLICY

This is behaviour that specifically harms a specific individual or identifiable group 

the social ostracism, marginalization or rejection of individuals thought to be gay;

Gossiping or spreading rumours about someone’s sexuality

Obscene graffiti

The promotion of the idea that homosexuals are per se wicked or depraved (e.g. “god hates fags” posters)

The stipulation that some activities or benefits are only open to or appropriate for male-female or married couples

 

THREATENING BEHAVIOUR

This is behaviour that proposes physical violence to a specific individual or identifiable group. 

Incitement to violence against homosexuals in general

Personally directed verbal abuse

Taunting, ridicule and mockery

The use of obscene gestures

Intimidation and threats of material abuse

 

MATERIAL ABUSE

This is behaviour that does material harm to some person. 

Theft of property

Damage to property

Physical assault

Sexual assault

Murder

 

Homophobic bullying behaviour is generally established within the first few years of primary school.  Research has shown that 82% of teachers are aware of homophobic language.  Words that call into question young persons masculinity or femininity are incredibly damaging.  The use of the word gay is common homophobic language, used frequently within the playground and seen as a general insult and form of abuse. This word, although usually misunderstood and used out of context, is a word that children recognise as a “negative adjective.” Through this misuse of the word gay, children call into question others’ sexuality thus empowering and establishing their own identity.  This is particularly common within young boys as competitive masculinity stimulates this act of aggression.  The use of this word does not necessarily mean that the person receiving the abuse is gay but that he does not appear masculine enough.  Subjects of this abuse could be academic types, who work hard in their studies.  As Epstein describes, “boys who work hard at school are often labelled as gay and this may deter them from studying and achieving their potential.”  Academically bullies tend to be below average as it is not seen to be cool to be intelligent or seemingly to have good morals, hence they resort to “deceitfulness” and manipulation in order to succeed, this is especially prevalent in males, as they tend to reject studies and opt for more masculine areas such as sports.

The word gay is sometimes used out of turn to describe something that is dysfunctional or worthless.  Children may use the word to describe an object, for example “This computer isn’t working it’s being gay.”  Clearly the computer cannot feel sexual urges and so the description is because it is being dysfunctional.

GAY, slang (chiefly U.S.). Foolish, stupid, socially inappropriate or disapproved of; ‘lame’. Oxford English Dictionary SECOND EDITION 1989

Amazingly one could speculate that it is society’s prejudiced view on homosexuality that has transformed this word into this negative adjective, as being gay is deemed socially inappropriate and undesirable. Children are generally unaware in primary school years about sexual difference and sexuality and this use of homophobic language sees prejudice firmly entrenched in these early years, as Jennett discusses, “are likely to be highly resistant to change in later life.”

This view clearly does not promote a healthy environment for a same sex attracted young person to consider disclosing their sexuality or ‘come out’.  This is very difficult for young people as all they know is who they are.

The famous 1948 Kinsey report came up with the unpopular and startling result that as many as 10% of the male population was homosexual, basing this on self reported homo-gender sexual activity. Recently the government, Department of Trade and Industry has recently released the first official figures regarding what part of the population is homosexual.  Statistics show that “just over 6%” of the United Kingdom is gay or lesbian” asTowney quotes the DTI.  This figure does not include the people who are homosexual that will not come out or disclose themselves as gay or lesbian, in fear of family or social ostracism.

Previous available data suggests that between 2-9% of young people may have had some same-sex sexual experience. The 2001 census found there was a population of 58,789,194 and around 20% of that figure are under 16.  That would suggest that there are approximately 11,757,839 children under 16.  If we then apply the 6% DTI figure we could estimate then that there are a possible 705,470 homosexual children.

IMPACT OF HOMOPHOBIC BULLYING

‘I think it can make a difference if someone explains to bullies what effects they have on people, so they can understand the gravity of their actions. Maybe if the people who bullied me had heard that I tried to commit suicide, it would have made a difference.’

Rivers’ (1998) study of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth found that

82 per cent had experienced name-calling at school,

71 per cent had been ridiculed,

60 per cent had been hit or kicked,

59 per cent had the subject of rumours,

58 per cent had been teased,

52 per cent had been frightened by a look or stare,

49 per cent had experienced theft,

40 per cent had attempted suicide.

 

The rate of suicide among young lesbians, gay men and bisexual people in the UK is much higher than the average for young people andsince 1984 attempted suicide has doubled from 20% to 40% for same sex attracted pupils.  This is an appalling figure, which is in desperate need of attention. If there are a possible 705,470 homosexual children and 40% of those attempt suicide, the calculation suggests that 282,188 children have slipped through the net and not been helped by society or the education system.  There needs to be clear recognition of homosexual children in order to establish how best to tackle this issue.

THE EXTENT OF HOMOPHOBIC BULLYING IN SCHOOLS

What is wrong? Homophobic bullying is endemic in British schools.  Four in five secondary school teachers say they are aware of verbal homophobic bullying. One in four secondary teachers are aware of physical homophobic bullying. Just 6 per cent of British schools have fully inclusive anti-bullying policies which address homophobic bullying.

In civilised society it is thought that homosexuality is becoming more acceptable and homophobic bullying is decreasing but for young people within the school environment this may not be true as the tables below describe

Table 3

In 1984 a survey of LGB young people found that: In 1998, a GALOP survey found that:
60% had experienced verbal abuse 83% had experienced verbal abuse
20% had been beaten up. 47% had experienced physical abuse.

Table 4 Experiences of homophobic bullying.

Male (%) Female (%)
             Name-calling 85 69
             Public ridicule 75 54
             Hitting/kicking 68 31
             Rumour mongering 57 67
             Teasing 58 56
             Frightened by a look/stare 54 44
             Belongings taken 47 31
             Social isolation 24 41
             Sexual assault 13 5

Table 5 Homophobic bullying in secondary schools: where it happens.

Corridors Classrooms School grounds Changingrooms On way home Otherplaces
Name-calling ??? ??? ? ?
Teasing ?
Hitting/kicking ?? ??
Frightened by look/stare ? ?? ??? ?? ?
Rumour mongering ?? ??
Public ridicule ?? ??? ?? ? ?
Sexual assault ?
Belongings taken ? ?

??? = frequently ?? = regularly ? = sometimes

Homophobic bullying incidents are generally left unnoticed and go unchallenged due to schools’, society’s and religious movements’ denial of the existence of homosexual children and also the wide acceptance of the hegemonic masculine attitude boys display.  Such homophobic incidents may also go unreported, as a homosexual child could be embarrassed with regards to the situation and the social in-acceptance and invisibility they may feel.

EDUCATION

”We need to work with these children and young people, not just to suspend them, Adrienne asserted. One young victim said that suspension just gave the bully time off to lie in bed and plan how to attack them at the end of the day! “

Adrienne Katz

Director of Young Voice

SEXUAL AWARENESS EDUCATION AND STRATEGIES

The government issued the “Sex and Relationship Education Guidance“ booklet that advises teachers and members of schools about structuring their policy.  This policy is required to be up to date and developed with input from parents and guardians and inclusive of all pupils.  There is the need for consultation of carers with regards to sex and relationship education, especially for primary school pupils.  Although as established earlier homophobic and sexist language is firmly entrenched in this educational environment and I feel there needs to be a firm policy addressing these factors before the hegemonic masculine, misogynist and homophobic attitudes are developed.  Also included should be how this information will be delivered allowing the parent/carer decide on the appropriateness of this subject regarding their child.  As it is not the sole responsibility of the school to educate children in this sensitive area, the school should work harmoniously with the parents.  This can be easier said than done, as many people find addressing the subject of sex and relationships difficult, not only parents but teachers as well.  Extra support maybe required in informing educators within the school especially areas regarding homosexuality and same sex relationships.  There is a particular need to address all forms of sexual behaviour as pupils whom adults think are not engaging in sexual activity, usually are and the rate of infections transmitted sexually are incredibly prevalent within young teens. Occurrence of sexually transmitted infections is continuing to rise and the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection remains unacceptably high, particularly for young men. 39%of those with AIDS in the UK are in their 20’s, most of whom will have contracted HIV in their teens.  This can only affirm the necessity for a more informative sex and relationship education.  There seems to be a great deal of concern for the emotional well being of children, yet the facts are evident that they go out and find out for themselves unknowing the consequences that occur.  I realise that some pupils will not be exercising their sexuality as early as others but nevertheless I feel there is a need to educate all pupils regardless.  If the continuation of this lack of information regarding sex and relationships, their enjoyment and hazards, the figures discussed earlier will only increase.  Schools therefore have an obligation to educate, along with carers the varying aspects regarding this sensitive area.  I have therefore isolated specific chapters within the policy document highlighting certain areas that incorporate the education of homosexual/same-sex relationships and difference.

Chapter 4 to the Sex and Relationship Education Guidance Head teachers, Teachers & School Governors Status: good practice shown below

4. This is the first time that schools have had a national framework to support work in this area. As part of sex and relationship education, pupils should be taught about the nature and importance of marriage for family life and bringing up children. But the Government recognises – as in the Home Office, Ministerial Group on the Family consultation document “Supporting Families”- that there are strong and mutually supportive relationships outside marriage. Therefore pupils should learn the significance of marriage and stable relationships as key building blocks of community and society. Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no stigmatisation of children based on their home circumstances.

 

This chapter sees the recognition of same sex carers and parents as stable homes.  This along with the recent acknowledgement with regards to the civil partnership denotes this as a positive recognition.  Although this recognition does not seem to stretch to the educational environment, as established earlier in1984 60% of homosexual pupils experienced verbal abuse and 20% had been beaten up whereas, 1998, 83% had experienced verbal abuse and 47% had experienced physical abuse.  This is an enormous increase, which clearly needs rectifying.  As highlighted in Table 3 these figures are not on the decrease.

5 Pupils need also to be given accurate information and helped to develop skills to enable them to understand difference and respect themselves and others and for the purpose also of preventing and removing prejudice. Secondary pupils should learn to understand human sexuality, learn the reasons for delaying sexual activity and the benefits to be gained from such delay, and learn about obtaining appropriate advice on sexual health.

Paragraph 5 establishes the need for education with regards to human difference.  Although this is not recommended until secondary school, the removal of prejudice will become much harder.  As discussed earlier bullying and prejudice against homosexuals is firmly entrenched in primary school and prevention will be too late.  Clearly there needs to be more research into the ways of delivering the information, regarding loving, stable relationships that are outside marriage to primary children.  This information does not need to involve sex.

1.25 It is therefore important for policies to be both culturally appropriate and inclusive of all children. Primary and secondary schools should consult parents and pupils both on what is included, and on how it is delivered. For example, for some children it is not culturally appropriate to address particular issues in a mixed group. Consulting pupils and their families will help to establish what is appropriate and acceptable for them. Generally, parents appreciate support from the school, if they are consulted and involved.

There need to be clear involvement with parents and carers to ensure a positive acceptable delivery of information.  This is to account for other religious and cultural beliefs. It is necessary to respect others wishes although I do firmly believe that if consulted by a pupil information should be delivered respectfully, giving great consideration to their position.

 

SEXUAL IDENTITY AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION

1.30 It is up to schools to make sure that the needs of all pupils are met in their programmes. Young people, whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that sex and relationship education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs.  The Secretary of State for Education and Employment is clear that teachers should be able to deal honestly and sensitively with sexual orientation, answer appropriate questions and offer support. There should be no direct promotion of sexual orientation.

No direct promotion means just that.  Heterosexuality should not be promoted as better than homosexuality; this is clearly identified within this policy, as the use of copy is not directly promotional of any sexuality.  As established earlier in chapter 4 of the booklet there are recognised stable relationships outside that of heterosexuality and marriage.

1.31 Sexual orientation and what is taught in schools is an area of concern for some parents. Schools that liaise closely with parents when developing their sex and relationship education policy and programme should be able to reassure parents of the content of the programme and the context in which it will be presented.

1.32 Schools need to be able to deal with homophobic bullying. Guidance issued by the Department (Social Inclusion: Pupil Support Circular 10/99) dealt with the unacceptability of and emotional distress and harm caused by bullying in whatever form – be it racial, as a result of a pupil’s appearance, related to sexual orientation or for any other reason.

We have identified earlier that schools do not address homophobic bullying as vigilantly as they should.  The fact that 6% of schools, the same percent of the homosexual population, have a fully inclusive policy, which covers homophobic bullying is insufficient as the amount of same sex attracted youths that attempt suicide is 40%.  This figure is in desperate need of attention and we all need to realise that there are children very much in need of our help.

CURRENT STRATEGIES

In the, Bullying, Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools, Professor Peter Smith states that:

23. Strategies for reducing such bullying include:

Including it in the school’s anti-bullying policy – so pupils know discrimination is wrong and the school will act

Covering it in INSET days on bullying in general

Guaranteeing confidentiality and appropriate advice to lesbian and gay pupils

Challenging homophobic language

Exploring issues of diversity and difference – discussing what schools and society can do to end discrimination

Exploring pupils’ understanding of their use of homophobic language – they may not understand the impact

 

A selection of schools have policies focussing particularly on behaviour, but because of the varying degrees of bullying and that, as established earlier is a very personal experience and individual specific, schools are therefore looking toward different approaches which include the ”No-Blame Approach, the Pikas Method, Circle Time and Peer Counselling.” 

THE NO-BLAME APPROACH

The initial step is to interview the target, who is then asked to draw a picture or write a poem on how the bullying has made them feel and the effect it is having. The next is a group meeting incorporating a group of students including the bullies, bystanders and people who are not involved, along with a teacher.  They then discuss how the bullied target is feeling and the group then aim to find a solution through the suggestion of positive, practical problem solving solutions.

The purpose of this approach is to stop the bully from feeling threatened and that they are not being blamed for what they have done but they can be a positive part in finding the solution to the problem.  The bystanders are involved in the discussion as their lack of intervention regarding the bullying is seen as an action, which makes allowances for the bullying.

It is then each individual’s responsibility to carry out the found solution and each have a responsibility to ensure that no bullying takes place.  Thus including the bullied target in play times and ensuring future involvement.

Progress is monitored when the group next meets which is usually around a week later.  The children then discuss what they have achieved.  This is supposed to give the children a feeling of success.

If a school decides to employ this method, its approach needs to be clearly discussed with the parents/carer of the target.  It has been found that many parents seem to believe that this method lets the bully off without punishment, as usually emotions run quite high when a parent finds out their child is the target of bullying.  This said the “No Blame” approach was a resounding success in hull when it was carried out in Hull.  From the 55 cases that used this method there was an 80% success rate which seems an incredibly successful amount.

THE PIKAS METHOD OF SHARED CONCERN

This strategy to deal with bullying is apparently quite effective.  It involves a counsellor discussing the issue with the bullying ringleader and then with his comrades before any contact has been made with the target.  This is so the target does not appear to have been naming names and placing the blame.

The discussion then sees the counsellor explaining that no blame has been placed and how the target is feeling with regard to the current situation.  The bullies are then asked how they think the situation could be improved.  If no suggestions are made then the counsellor may do so.  This method of communicating initially with the bullies prevents antagonism and the defensive behaviour a bully might feel.  Also with the removal of punishment avoids the possibilities of tension and the bully retaliating.

The next step after adequate suggestions have been made, the counsellor meets with the target and then evaluates from their point of view.  The counsellor also analyses the target ensuring that they are not provoking the situation.  If so this is acknowledged without the counsellor judging or blaming.

A series of individual meetings are held with the people involved which then leads to a whole group meeting to acknowledge that the problem has been resolved.

CIRCLE TIME

Circle time is used in many schools.  The structure is that the children sit in a circle and for a short period of time, play games or do something enjoyable.  After that period they are then able to discuss issues that they have as a group, which can include bullying.  This seems strange that the reward comes first but I imagine that this method eases the children into a comfortable environment so that the group can communicate efficiently.  This dynamic setting is usually coupled with the use of an object, which determines that the only person who holds it shall speak.  With the use of this implement the group cannot shout out or laugh at the person holding the object.

The teacher can use this time effectively and get to the root of issues by asking some key questions, for instance, “If anybody knows anyone who is being bullied then change places.”  The children then change places if they know of anyone.  This gives the teacher a great insight into the size of the problem.

PEER GROUP PROGRAMMES

These strategies are a combined method of communication brought together to ensure the school is a safe place and that bullying is not tolerated.  They are usually implemented in secondary schools as assurance that new pupils will feel safe.

The older pupils participating in the scheme are volunteers and are usually girls.  They undergo an intense training program for a month, learning about aspects of bullying and the effects it has on people’s lives.  These pupils are generally identified by a badge or ribbon and are there to help.  They also learn to deal with younger people who are suffering from aspects of bullying.  They do not deal with this just by themselves, as there is a strong teacher involvement as some of the possible issues that could be encountered could be aspects such as child abuse.

Alongside the support of these volunteers is a designated room for where people who have not yet made any friends, to spend time at lunch or break time, where they can interact with people like themselves and establish relationships.  Here they can use the space to play indoor games, chat and continue with their studies.  For children who are experiencing bullying or have any issues they need resolving, but wish to remain anonymous have the opportunity to air their grievances through the use of boxes situated around the school where children can post notes with their issues on.

‘TELLING’ SCHOOLS

A strategy that is becoming increasingly more popular and effective within schools is the ‘telling’ method.  If the bullied target is too afraid to report the bullying the bystanders are aware that it is their responsibility to report to a person of authority.  The bystander will not be accused of telling tales although we know that some children fear that they too will be bullied, but if the reporting continues then the bully will never get away with the crime and the school will become a safer place, although we will never actually resolve why the child bullies.

 

These strategies all seem very liberal in their approach and I do hope that it is because these methods have made bullying easier to report that the figures have become ever more increasingly high, even though the population of people 16 and under is far less than the last census.  I hope that bullying campaigns and strategies help to bring the numbers down.

PREVIOUS AND CURRENT CAMPAIGNS

A 60 second film is to be launched on 3 Sept by Ivan Lewis to support his zero tolerance message that all forms of bullying are unacceptable and encourages children to ‘tell someone’ if they are being bullied. We see young people in a series of everyday situations finding creative ways to share their problem with adults, including a parent, grandparents, a teacher, a lunchtime supervisor and ChildLine.

This campaign by Ivan Lewis identifies the need to tell somebody about the bullying and not to suffer in silence.  As discussed earlier there is a great deal of bullying that goes unreported, as children do not see adults as supportive figures as a huge percentage of pupils identified a great deal of risk associated with informing adults about the incidents as adults are seen as thinking that it is just part of growing up.  This campaign I feel is greatly necessary and wonderfully executed. Awareness created by this campaign identifies that the targets have supporting roles to turn to and not to be afraid of reporting the incidents. Within this campaign the children attempt to communicate with adults through various means possible.

There has also been another recent campaign involving some celebrities, such as Sharon Osbourne, Vernon Kaye and the Sugarbabes to mention a few.  This was part of the www.need2know.co.uk campaign, which incorporated the promotion of the blue anti bullying band.  The campaign was the delivery of a poem by the various celebrities that was courtesy of Bully Online.  For me this campaign I feel was nothing more than promotion material for the celebrities own careers.  The delivery of the poem felt false and provoked a negative response from me.  I realise that children will admire the influential people that clearly do not condone bullying, and hopefully they will take notice and not continue to bully.  Although this poem is from the eyes of the bullied, in an attempt to make the bully realise that the target is just a person like them.  We know that there are a great deal of similarities between target and bully but we also know that the majority of bullies feel no remorse for their actions. It is with this thought in mind that I continue to think that this campaign is unsuccessful in its delivery.

APPLICATION OF THEORY

Rivers’ (1998) study of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth found that 82 per cent had experienced name calling at school, 71 per cent had been ridiculed, 60 per cent had been hit or kicked, 58 per cent had been teased, 59 per cent had the subject of rumours, 49 per cent had experienced theft, 52 per cent had been frightened by a look or stare, and 40 per cent had attempted suicide.”

JAKE, 18 “There was one bloke who really annoyed me. He had a funny high-pitched voice and he jumped even if you just said ‘Hello.’ We hid his stuff, pushed him out of queues, and everyone knew better than to talk to him. We just did it for a laugh. I suppose he must have hated us.” 

DARREN, 17 “I suppose I just messed around most of the time at school. I had a couple of mates and we used to make the younger kids pay us every week or we’d give them a right kicking. We must have been pretty frightening. None of that’s much good to me now.”

JAY, 15 “It got to be a habit.  I felt good seeing him cry. The others laughed and that made me feel even better. But then the teacher said that he was in the hospital because he had tried to hurt himself to get away from the bullying. It was only a bit of fun really – I didn’t mean him to take it seriously.”

I felt that there was a need to take a different point of view regarding this global problem, so my approach was to use quotes from real bullies (written above).  The delivery of these quotes would mean different things for different people, be they bullies, bystanders, targets or adults.  Although I hope that they listen to what is being said, along with the horrific statistics, described above, and acknowledge that bullying behaviour is wrong thus dis-empowering bullies.

I chose a black screen to display the statistics in white, which is very simple and effective.  This choice had to be simple, as the viewer has to concentrate on both what is being said and the information displayed.  My choice of font was, Univers Bold Extended, which I feel is incredibly effective as it’s legibility on screen is excellent.  I had attempted many other choices, which were unacceptable, such as Impact, Futura and Helvetica to name but a few.  None of these fonts displayed the horrific information with such impact, as does Univers.

The end result I feel is a hard-hitting, factual piece, which encases, cause and symptom together, effectively.

 CONCLUSION

Bullying is a huge global problem to which there is no one solution.  The main problem I feel with regard to homophobic bullying is that a lot of changes need to happen within society before we can expect this to filter through to the education system.  The fact that only 6% of schools have a fully inclusive bullying policy, incorporating homophobic bullying and the current curriculum, seems to be a clear disregard for the guidelines established by the government.   It seems that schools not only deny that they have homosexual pupils but that they also deny they have any bullying at all.  There needs to be clear acceptance that homosexual children exist and are acknowledged before schools can move forward and stamp out this form of bullying.

Within British culture there is a need to censor children from sexuality, assuming that they would benefit from this.  Through this action in an attempt to preserve a child’s “innocence” they leave them ignorant to important factors such as disease, abuse and loving relationships as described earlier.  With the removal of this censorship we can hope to eliminate prejudices in the hope of making a more tolerant environment for school children to feel secure and safe.

I can only hope that bullying ceases to exist.

 

Bibliography

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COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC, E. (2001) Media Violence. Pediatrics, 108, 1222-1226.

Ayyar, R., George Weinberg: Love is Conspiratorial, Deviant & Magical[online]. (Vol. VIII Issue 167) Available from: http://www.gaytoday.com/interview/110102in.asp (1 of 8)3/1/2006 3:14:45 pm

Browne, Professor Kevin. University of Birmingham. TV ‘could create child bullies’ . 15 June 2006 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4408709.stm>

EPSTEIN, D. D. (2000) Schooling Sexualities. London, Open University Press.

HANCOX, R. J., MILNE, B. J. & POULTON, R. (2005) Association of Television Viewing During Childhood With Poor Educational Achievement. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 159, 614-618.

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SALUJA, G., IACHAN, R., SCHEIDT, P. C., OVERPECK, M. D., SUN, W. & GIEDD, J. N. (2004) Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Depressive Symptoms Among Young Adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 158, 760-765.

SMITH, P. P. Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools. Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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ZIMMERMAN, F. J., GLEW, G. M., CHRISTAKIS, D. A. & KATON, W. (2005) Early Cognitive Stimulation, Emotional Support, and Television Watching as Predictors of Subsequent Bullying Among Grade-School Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 159, 384-388.

Endnotes

  1. 1 www.aaps.k12.mi.us/aaps.forparents/parents.studentrr/definitions
  2. 2 Oliver, C. & Candappa, M. (2003) Tackling Bullying: listening to the views of children and young people, London, DfES.
  3. 3 Channel 4, 3 minute wonder, Bully for you, 1 December 2005 09:25
  4. 4 Moldrich, Chrissan. ChildLine Bullying Factsheet Information for teachers and professionals working with young people.
  5. 5 Moorhead, Joanna. is your child being bullied? 15 June 2006 <http://www.channel4.com/health/microsites/F/family/problems/bullying.html>
  6. 615 June 2006 <http://www.statistics.gov.uk/>
  7. 7 <http://www.ChildLine.org.uk/bullying-biggesteverriseincalls.asp>
  8. 8 Smith, Professor Peter. Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools(Goldsmiths College, University of London).
  9. 9 Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence – an anti-bullying pack for schools Professor Peter Smith  (Goldsmiths College, University of London).
  10. 10 Katz, Adrienne. Bullying  Symptoms, Strategies and Solutions That Work.  A ChildLine Conference. London,
  11. 11 “antisocial personality disorder n.”  A Dictionary of Psychology. Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University.  15 June 2006  <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t87.e546>
  12. 12 “oppositional defiant disorder n.”  A Dictionary of Psychology. Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University. 15 June 2006  <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t87.e5798>
  13. 13 The Impact of Interactive Violence on Children. Hearing Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. 106th Cong, 1st Sess (2000) (statement of Craig Anderson, Professor, Iowa State University, Department of Psychology)
  14. 14 Committee on Public Education AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS 1222 PEDIATRICS Vol. 108 No. 5 November 2001 Media Violence <http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/108/5/1222>
  15. 15 Browne, Professor Kevin. University of Birmingham. TV ‘could create child bullies’ . 15 June 2006 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4408709.stm>
  16. 16 ZIMMERMAN, F. J., GLEW, G. M., CHRISTAKIS, D. A. & KATON, W. (2005) Early Cognitive Stimulation, Emotional Support, and Television Watching as Predictors of Subsequent Bullying Among Grade-School Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 159, 384-388.
  17. 17 Channel 4, 3 minute wonder, Bully for you, 1 December 2005 09:25
  18. 18Moldrich, Chrissan.  ChildLine, Bullying Factsheet Information for teachers and professionals working with young people
  19. 19 <http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/hmpbcpol.html#Terminology>20 Ayyar, R., George Weinberg: Love is Conspiratorial, Deviant & Magical[online]. (Vol. VIII Issue 167) Available from: http://www.gaytoday.com/interview/110102in.asp (1 of 8)3/1/2006 3:14:45 pm21 <http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/homophobia.html>
  20. 22 3/18/99Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? by Henry E. Adams, Ph.D., Lester W. Wright, Jr., Ph.D. and Bethany A. Lohr, in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 105, No. 3, pp 440-445. http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/articles/glb/glbtphobia.html
  21. 23 Trenchard, I. and Warren, H. (1984) “Something to tell you.” Cited in http://www.geocities.com/pharsea/bullying.html24 Rivers, I (2000) “Social exclusion, absenteeism and sexual minority youth” in Support for Learning, 15(1),13-18 NASEN  cited in http://www.geocities.com/pharsea/bullying.html
  22. 25 15 June 2006<http://www.geocities.com/pharsea/bullying.html>
  23. 26 <http://www.avert.org/ygmt3.htm>
  24. 27 “hegemonic masculinity”  A Dictionary of Sociology. John Scott and Gordon Marshall. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University.  15 June 2006  <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t88.e992>
  25. 28 Epstein, Dr Debbie. Section 28 makes teachers ignore bullying 7 February 2000.  15 June 2006 <http://ioewebserver.ioe.ac.uk/ioe/cms/get.asp?cid=1397&1397_1=1987>
  26. 29 “conduct disorder n.”  A Dictionary of Psychology. Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University.  15 June 2006  <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t87.e1759>
  27. 30 Jennett, Mark. Stand up for us. Challenging homophobia in schools
  28. 31 15 June 2006<http://www.geocities.com/pharsea/bullying.html>
  29. 32 Townley, Ben. 15 June 2006<http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2005/12/12/4>
  30. 33 Figures for numbers of lesbian or gay young people are based on findings from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) of nearly 19,000 people published in 2000. This asked respondents whether they had ‘Ever had a sexual experience with a same sex partner?’ or ‘Ever had sexual intercourse/genital contact with a same sex partner?’ – the percentages quoted here are for young people aged 16-24. Applying these figures to pupils under 16 whose sexual practices are likely to be different is problematic. However, the figure is likely to underestimate the numbers of young people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (or who think they might be) and who have not had same-sex sexual experience. For further information, see a summary of key figures from AVERT, available online at: http://www.avert.org/hsexu1.htm Accessed 28 May, 2004 Homophobia, Sexual Orientation and Schools: a Review and Implications for Action Ian Warwick, Elaine Chase and Peter Aggleton Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London with Sue Sanders Schools Out
  31. 34 BULLYING HOW TO BEAT IT A Child Line conference 2003confereport.pdf
  32. 35 Rivers, Ian. (1998) cited in Mullen, Andy. (2001) Mesmac Inclusive Schools.  Bradford
  33. 36 ILGA-Europe, (2000) p.17. <http://www.nihrc.org/documents/pubs/inr/growup.pdf>
  34. 37 Bullying  Symptoms, Strategies and Solutions That Work.  A ChildLine Conference3
  35. 8 Rivers, I. (2001), The bullying of sexual minorities at school: Its nature and long-term correlates, Educational and Child Psychology, 18 (1): 33-46.
  36. 39 Bullying A Child Line conference Symptoms, strategies and solutions that work. bullyingconferencereport2001.pdf
  37. 40Sex and Relationship Education Guidance Head teachers, Teachers & School Governors Status: good practice Date of issue: July 2000 Ref: DfEE 0116/2000 <www.dfes.gov.uk/sreguidance/sexeducation.pdf>
  38. 41 Trenchard, L. and Warren, H. (1984) ‘Something To Tell You’ – The Experiences of Young Lesbians and Young Gay Men in London, London: London Gay Teenage Group.
  39. 42 Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools Professor Peter Smith(Goldsmiths College, University of London).
  40. 43 15 June 2006 <http://www.bullying.co.uk/school/bullying_policie.htm>
  41. 44 Rivers, Ian. (1998) cited in Mullen, Andy. (2001) Mesmac Inclusive Schools.  Bradford

 

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