This week Friendship Works is supporting Beatbullying’s ‘Big March’ campaign. Bullying is still a huge issue for many children in the UK and we’re proud to be part of such an important global initiative.
Many people might still think of bullying as something that takes place in the playground or outside the school gate. For children today, however, bullying is as likely to come via text messages or in the form of cyberbullying on facebook and twitter. Regardless of the type of bullying, it’s still vulnerable children who are more likely to be targeted – particularly those who lack confidence and who find it difficult to build good peer friendships.
Some of the difficulties faced by the children we support make them more vulnerable to bullying. Social isolation, learning difficulties, being a young carer and other challenges can all leave children feeling less confident and less able to cope. A reliable adult mentor is an important extra source of support, someone to talk to about their situation and to share their worries with.
A mentor can also help a socially isolated child feel more ‘normal’ and confident enough to take part in everyday conversations with school friends. Some of the children at Friendship Works had never been to the cinema, for example, and had missed out on other cultural experiences that most children take for granted. It may seem like a small thing, but it can leave children feeling that they’re excluded and abnormal. Children want to fit in (as evidenced in the excellent report from The Children’s Society – The Good Childhood Report) and our mentors can help to give them a more common experience of childhood.
Children with very low levels of self-esteem are particularly vulnerable to bullying. Some children may even blame themselves for what’s happening to them. Regular time spent with a positive and encouraging adult can help a child feel more ‘ok’ about themselves, that they are ‘good enough’ and deserving of care and respect. This simple and internal shift may be the first step on the road to tackling bullying.
The Big March isn’t going to eradicate bullying overnight but it’s a great way of highlighting how vulnerable some children are – and what we can do to protect them.
Please consider joining us in Beatbullying’s global campaign by signing up to the Big March.