Monday, 09 March 2020 15:09

How to Stop the Spread of Bullying

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Bullying: the bane and so-called myth of secondary school. It’s a game of survival; often targeting the “social anomalies” in a battle to annihilate those who refuse to conform. Deemed as mockery and playful teasing by those at the top, bullying reigns supreme as a method of gaining ultimate control.

At Driffield School, the problem is no different. Whilst the school struggles to deal with the issue, although leading the way above many other schools, cases still dive under the radar, being picked up later as increasing mental health problems add to the constant demand for counsellors and support. Students, often isolated, struggle to report the bullying for fear of angering the bullies and making things worse.

In an interview with one student, I gained insight into their experience of bullying, and the aftermath of such a mentally disturbing occurrence.

“I’ve been bullied on and off throughout my whole life,” the student, who chooses to remain anonymous, confided. “They’ve mocked my condition and made fun of my hobbies, even once following me to Dungeons and Dragons because they thought it was a “nerdy” activity.”

A common theme throughout students experiencing bullying is that they often partake in different or “socially inacceptable” clubs and games, being teased and labelled as “nerds” or “geeks”, sometimes even “losers or “freaks” (though of course, this is not always the case). The student involved explained he was made to feel inadequate, embarrassed by his differences, causing him to be angry – both at the bullies and himself.

“I’m definitely less sociable now, and more aware of where I go and who I talk to,” he said. “I take different routes around school just to avoid the bullies, and it’s hugely affected my mental state. Every aspect of my life has been altered.”

However, the main issue with bullying is that it’s terribly hard for both the student and the school to deal with. Whilst the student could ignore the issue, it makes a lot more sense for them to report it to a senior member of staff for the appropriate action to be taken. The student, however, outlined the issue with this, and the challenges teachers face, explaining, “The bullies take pride in what they’re doing – detentions build up like a badge of honour. There’s no deterrent, nothing to stop them, or put them off.”

However, a second student had a very different attitude to bullying. He claimed that undergoing such a horrible experience had made him stronger, and as a consequence he’s since become more aware of what it means to be kind.

“I’m part of the Ant-Bullying team now,” he told us, after discussing the horrific teasing he was subjected to as a younger student on a bus of older, more powerful teens. “I just want to help people.

The two students, however, had very different opinions on how the school could more efficiently deal with bullies and prevent a further spread of teasing throughout the school, stopping the increase of mental health issues right at its root.

“The punishments aren’t harsh enough,” the first student explained. “It’s too difficult for students to be expelled, and the school gives kids way too much leeway.”

“I don’t think the punishments should be harsher,” countered the second. “I think we need to educate people on how to be kind from a much younger age, so that the mild teasing never gains enough support to reach the intolerable level of bullying I experienced. We need to be showing people what issues bullying can lead too – because if people think it’s just a little fun, nothing will ever get better.”

Whilst Driffield School is certainly leading the way with introducing anti-bullying measures and supporting students through the mental scarring that follows, it’s important that more people acknowledge the effects bullying can have. On top of that, it’s vital that students put aside their differences and learn to just be kind.

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