We never shy away from a conversation about children and young people’s emotional health and well-being and this will be no different during Anti Bullying Week.
Being bullied is a painful, isolating and scary experience for any child or young person and not one that should be borne in silence.
Counsellors, parents, carers and school staff all hold fear as to the potency and effectiveness of someone who bullies; they fear the impact on the ‘victim’ and while we do not disagree with this, we have turned thinking on its head when considering the issue of bullying.
No child is 'bad'
Why? Because we don’t believe that any child or young person is “bad”: we believe they act from a place fuelled by fear, worry, sadness, anxiety, or anger and it is those emotions which are acted out when they behave like a 'bully'.
When we see past the behaviour and get to the feelings, we automatically respond in a different way; it is the evolution in our responses that enables us to affect CHANGE.
At bccs, our stance is one of understanding and empathy for everyone involved in bullying - the bullied and the bully.
We find our work is so much more effective when we think alongside children and young people about what it feels like to be bullied, and what it may feel like to be a bully.
We so often take the stance that a bully is powerful, strong and intimidating. We have never found that to be true and so we look beyond the external behaviours of a bully and see just how vulnerable they are.
Understanding the 'bully' as well as the 'bullied'
Our Anti-Bullying workshops are different to many others: we support children and young people not only to think around what happens when someone is bullied but also to explore the experiences of someone who bullies others; we are never ceased to be amazed at the capacity for empathy which children and young people seem to have.
Because our workshops operate on a basis of non-judgement, students come away with an increased awareness of the power-play between the bully and the bullied, but also a sense of how the bullies can themselves be considered as 'victims'.
We want to reach out to and understand the bullies themselves and our workshops provide a safe space within which students can explore their own experiences.
So rather than join in a conversation about bullying, we take part in Anti Bullying Week with a different hat on: one of understanding of the feelings and experiences of everyone involved.
We validate the idea that many bullies will have a backstory of distress, isolation or insecurity and that when we can consider this with empathy, their perceived 'power' is naturally diminished.
When we understand people, we are so much more powerful than when we seek to discount their behaviour.
Following our workshops, some of our students told us:
"It was useful to find out what might be going on in the bully’s life and that they might take be taking out their personal emotions on someone else."
"I enjoyed this because I now know what to do if I ever find myself feeling upset or insecure. Also I learnt the reason behind people becoming bullies."