Anti-bullying week – let’s stop bullying for all

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Anti-Bullying Week kicks off today. This year, the Anti-Bullying Alliance is calling on schools to take action to stop the bullying of ALL children and young people – including disabled children and those with special educational needs who are unfortunately more likely to experience bullying.

We blogged back in July about the steps that can be taken to help prevent bullying in deaf children. There’s loads more information in our bullying resources, which can all be downloaded for free from www.ndcs.org.uk/bullying.

And for anti-bullying week, we’ve got a new resource: a short video clip from a member of the NDCS Young People’s Advisory Board, Ammaar, who offers his tips for stopping bullying. It’s a really powerful and direct clip and Ammaar does an amazing job of bringing the issue to life.

So what can our campaigners do during anti-bullying week?

1) Get active on social media. Help us spread the word about our resources. Share this link- www.ndcs.org.uk/bullying  with your contacts on social media. Use the hashtag #stopbullying and don’t forget to mention @NDCS_UK

2) Watch and share Ammaar’s video with any deaf young people you know. Have a chat about the issues it raises. And share our resources for young people as well – including the See it! Stop it! booklet.

3) Share our resource for education professionals with your local school and any teachers you know. Encourage them to think about the steps they can take to prevent bullying of deaf children in their school. And ask if the school’s anti-bullying policy specifically considers the needs of deaf children.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance have loads more ideas for things you can do during Anti-Bullying week. If we all work together, we can make a real difference to help raise awareness and prevent bullying for deaf and other disabled children.

Putting a stop to Bullying

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

This blog post was originally published on The Huffington Post.

School can be tough at times for all children, but for many deaf children and young people it can be particularly hard. On top of the same challenges that everyone faces, such as meeting homework deadlines and working out if that girl or guy fancies you, many deaf children and young people also have to contend with having to work that bit harder to follow and understand what their teacher is saying and keep up with what their mates are chatting about.

Sadly, for some, the risk of bullying can make life at school extra difficult. Research has shown that deaf students are often more vulnerable to bullying than other children. Nearly two thirds of deaf young people reported having been bullied because of their deafness, through an online poll* on the National Deaf Children’s Society’s website for deaf young people – The Buzz.

Sharing a joke with classmates or joining in the break time banter might be taken for granted by hearing people. But it’s thought that the risk of ‘breakdowns’ in social communication, or looking ‘different’ because a child is wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants, can end up marking out deaf children and young people as ‘different’ and hence more vulnerable. Elsewhere, social media offers a great opportunity to overcome communication barriers but comes with its dark side of potentially exposing deaf children and young people to cyberbullying.

I grew up deaf and went to a mainstream school in a small village in Leicestershire. Fortunately I feel very lucky never to have had any major problems with bullying. I could be happy about this but it’s always struck me as unfair – whether a deaf child enjoys school and avoids bullying should not be down to luck.

Everyone – teachers, school staff and parents can help reduce the risk of bullying. The National Deaf Children’s Society has produced a pack of resources to support all those with a responsibility for ensuring the well-being of deaf students, including deaf young people themselves.

Bullying resource for young people

The resources explain why deaf children might be more at risk from bullying and the simple things that everyone can do to prevent this from happening. For example, my school had lots of deaf awareness training and I was surrounded by a good bunch of friends who understood that I liked being able to chat at lunchtime in a quiet area.

I also had lots of opportunities to develop my speech and language skills and access to some great equipment in the classroom (known as radio aids) which amplified everything and meant that I could usually follow what was going on. I also had lots of work done on my language and communication skills. I like to think also that my parents imbued me with a sense of confidence and assertiveness to ‘own’ my deafness and to stand up for myself if there were ever any problems.

That’s not to say I never had any problems at all. I remember one time that some kids would keep “whispering” to me or covering their mouths when they spoke, knowing that I wouldn’t understand. Fortunately too, my teachers spotted this happening and clamped down on it immediately.

It’s important that everyone is vigilant to the signs that a child might be being bullied, just as some of my teachers were. Many of the signs are the same for deaf children as for all children – such as disruptive behaviour, not wanting to go to school and changes in appearance, for example. But where deaf children and young people are involved, there can be some added considerations. One of the key signs that any child is being bullied is that they become withdrawn and uncommunicative. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a failure to pick up bullying in deaf children because this kind of behaviour is sometimes attributed to their being deaf, rather than as a warning sign of wider problems.

The National Deaf Children’s Society’s new resources include a set of creative colourful postcards that deaf young people can pick up to quickly remind themselves of what they should or shouldn’t do in a difficult situation. Empowering deaf children and young people is absolutely essential. Deaf children and young people may need some help to understand what cyberbullying is and to know what to do if it crops up. We can’t always be there to protect them, but we can give them the tools and confidence to protect themselves.

By taking a few simple steps, we can all minimise the risk of bullying and make sure that deaf children and young people have happy memories and experiences at school and leave as confident adults.

More information on the National Deaf Children’s Society’s resources to prevent and tackle bullying, can be found here.

*The National Deaf Children’s Society commissioned a poll in 2012 on its young people’s website The Buzz, asking deaf young people their views on bullying. The poll received more than 600 respondents.

5 articles the Campaigns Team has been reading this week

NDCS, Sam Aldridge

Sam Aldridge, Campaigns Assistant

Every week we’ll be compiling a short list of articles that we’ve noticed in the news and want to share with you. Some of them will be about campaigning and others will be about changes to policy, or relevant policy areas, that may be of interest.

1)    Children and Families Act: Budget cuts will undermine SEN reforms warn charities , Laura McCardle, Children and Young People Now

Special educational needs (SEN) charities fear cuts to council budgets and inadequate guidance for professionals will undermine reforms made under the Children and Families Act.

2)    Striving to be heard in a world without sound , Henry Hepburn, TES Scotland

Deaf students must contend with ignorance, bullying and poor provision, writes Henry Hepburn. Yet they are entering further education in large numbers – when will the sector catch up?

3)   Ofsted inspections: ‘you’d be better off flipping a coin’ Padraic Flanagan, The Telegraph

The schools watchdog is criticised over the quality of its inspectors in a report by a right-leaning think tank founded by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.

4)    How does money influence health?, Michaela Benzaval et al, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

This study looks at hundreds of theories to consider how income influences health. There is a graded association between money and health – increased income equates to better health. But the reasons are debated.

5)    No make-up selfies: women on Facebook and Twitter post bare-faced photos to help raise breast cancer awareness , Kashmira Gander, The Independent

The no make-up selfie craze has divided users online, with some arguing the trend is not the best way to help to fight the disease.

Have you spotted any good articles around this week? Leave a comment below to share them with us!

5 articles the Campaigns Team has been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes - NDCS, articles we’ve been reading this week

Jonathan Barnes, Campaigns Assistant

Every week, we’ll be compiling a short list of articles that we’ve noticed in the news and want to share with you. Some of them will be about campaigning and others will be about changes to policy, or relevant policy areas, that may be of interest.

1)    A poor Ofsted report could lead to headteachers being ‘disappeared’Dorothy Lepkowska, The Guardian

Headteachers in challenging schools say they live in fear for their jobs as Kent county council spells out the consequences of a failed Ofsted inspection.

 2)    Mental health funding changes will put lives at risk, say charities Denis Campbell, The Guardian

Charities Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Mental Health Network warn that people with mental health problems could die because of controversial NHS funding changes which breach ministerial pledges to treat patients with psychological  or physical conditions equally.

3)    Why are libraries mandatory in prisons but not schools? Hannah Furness, The Telegraph

Malorie Blackman, the children’s laureate, questions why libraries are mandatory in prisons but not schools, claiming services for young readers are “disappearing”

4)    The real life Cinderella who was slave for wicked mother and siblings Emily Retter, Daily Mirror

Feature focusing on a case study and Action for Children’s campaign against emotional abuse of children.

 5)    Is campaigning really worth the money?Brian Lamb, Campaign Central

Brian Lamb, who has worked extensively on disability campaigns, gives his thoughts on whether campaigning in the charity sector offers value for money and what can be done to improve it further.

Have you spotted any good articles around this week? Leave a comment below to share them with us!