Saturday, 21 May 2011

Bullying - UK worst in Europe

Stop! BULLYING through Education Gone are the days when teachers lecture young people with a series of statements and boring quotes.

Bullying in secondary schools is worse in the UK than the rest of Europe, a recent British survey has found.

The study, found that nearly half of UK secondary school pupils (46%) think that bullying is a problem in their school and is usually caused by students' language difficulties, skin colour, race and religion.

The statistics came from research conducted across schools in Europe - from Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany and Spain - chosen for their mix of children from different backgrounds.

A total of 3,500 children were asked a series of multiple-choice questions, of which 1,500 from the UK.

Some 41% of respondents said they had been made fun of because of language difficulties, 31% said skin colour, 29% because of racial difference and 27% because of their religion.

A further 41% said it owed to the clothes pupils wear and 44% because of differences in physical appearance.

Bullying is a difficult problem to tackle, as many people do not know where to draw the line between harmless fun and bullying. Most of us have experienced friendly jibes or comments that in a different set of circumstances would have upset us, but due to the nature of the company we are in at the time of the incidents, we just pass it off as harmless.

Victims will often tell us that the negative effects of bullying have left them feeling low, depressed and in many cases suicidal.

Despite the mountain of support and advice to tackle this issue and provide victims with solutions to the many different kinds of bullying that exist today, we have to acknowledge that education has to be at the heart of the problem solving tablet.

Having an understanding of right and wrong, social responsibility and basic respect for other human beings is the key to successfully combating bullying.

Timing is essential in this educational process, for the right timing will be the difference between young people accepting the information they have been given or dismissing it and being swayed by their peers or other influential groups within their lives.

We should be educating young people from as young as 5yrs in those simple to learn skills that assist them in understanding the effects of positive and negative interaction with their peers.

It has been proven that a majority of the traits we develop within our personalities are installed by the age of 7yrs.  Everything from eating habits to behavioural patterns can be clearly demonstrated in a 7yr old child.

Therefore educating children in the basic skills required to reduce the spread of negative behaviour / bullying, must begin at 5yrs of age.

The question is should we as a community rely on parents to provide that basic education to their siblings?  Unfortunately, many of the parents do not clearly appreciate the basic skills to understand the negative and positive aspects of communication skills, and therefore how are they going to install these key skills into their young impressionable children.

Many opinions aired in bullying incidents stem not from the views of the child themselves, but from the beliefs and opinions of their parents and sometimes grand-parents. Racial, homophobic and social class abuse often stems from many generations of ignorance and negative experiences.

We as a community need to establish a fundamental set of rules that young impressionable children will understand, enjoy learning and appreciate to such a degree that they become the educators for those around them including their parents and grand-parents.

It is imperative that the educational process to install these basic skills is FUN, as children learn, engage and explore their creativity whilst having FUN.

There are those that believe serious issues should be dealt with in a serious educational manner. Any teaching professional will acknowledge that young people from 5yrs up will disengage, become disruptive and generally close down to any educational material that is delivered in a boring, methodical and one-dimensional manner.

Yes, the subject of bullying is a very important topic to approach, but the material must be delivered in a way that encourages enthusiasm, creativity and opinions. The lessons must be FUN and inspirational and allow young people to express themselves.

Teachers need to appreciate that the audience in front of them is just that an audience. With the right direction this audience will create a learning atmosphere that can be enjoyable and serious at the same time.

Within the Life Skills for Children programme, the KIDS teach KIDS initiative is proving to be very popular as groups of dedicated young people learn the skills and delivery methods to share with their peers.

What can be more powerful than a 12yr old boy educating a 7yr old child in those skills that will assist him in becoming a successful member of his community.

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