#AntiBullyingWeek – Ruth Dalton, Group Head of Communications and Marketing – A Blog

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For a creative type I adore statistics. I even had a bash at A-Level Statistics, it was a while back…but I recall I didn’t fair too badly. Numbers and the certainty and solidness of what they offer when negotiating in the workplace or at home give me confidence.

This week is Anti-Bullying Week in association with the Anti-Bullying Alliance, a charity we as an organisation partner with to help raise awareness and eradicate the whole problem. We also work to support the plight of the NSPCC…whose website I visited in order to delve into some meaty statistics about online bullying.

Remember I said I loved statistics, I am not so sure I stand by that statement anymore…
• In 2015 Childline counselling sessions reached a staggering 25,700
• 11,000 of those sessions were ‘online bullying issues’

When we opened up online channels of communication, we also opened up another avenue for bullies to create chaos, hurt and complete imbalance in social groups, work places and other spaces where people come together…or rather fall apart.

Trolling, sexting and cyberbullying – all new words added to our very British dictionaries in recent years. Often these are ignored by the seemingly positive selfie, hashtag and emoji alternatives.

All too frequently we read news items and see the parents of victims on our screens (television, desk top, mobile and tablet…and anything else I am too old to know about) revealing the utter destruction it brings to families.

My question has to be…where does bullying start? Beyond that, how is it sanctioned? Further still…how do we as individuals, parents, colleagues, and friends work to eradicate this vicious underbelly of our very being?

I am a parent to a three year old boy. He is the absolute apple of my eye, he is mischievous, but caring…boisterous but very affectionate. He attends a private day nursery three days a week, and whilst I pretend to my husband and friends that I don’t worry about how he copes socially (we are very similar characters) – every morning when I drop him, I worry about whether the other children will be kind. Invariably they are…but I am the parent that rang nursery twice a day up until he turned almost two and half ‘just to check’. Colleagues joked that I would have a hotline to his headteacher in Primary…I’m still working on that.

One thing I have come to understand is that it is my husband and I that must take the ultimate responsibility in offering our boy a platform to be kind, considerate and complimentary and ultimately to call out the acts of a bully if he sees it in his own groups and circles.

How do we do this? I’m having a go at ‘positive parenting’ – with a ‘threenager’ this is often…challenging. It’s a long slog, forever trying not to lose my cool and working towards gifting him with ‘positive’ behaviours. I am not usually this holistic in my approach to life, I am from the North East and our families were managed with very black and white guidelines. But this is my commitment to creating a better tomorrow for our young people…

If we can teach our children from a young age that they are of worth, that they can achieve and grow, even in a world of current uncertainty (it will get better) then we give them a toolbox that helps them to build themselves. If they are confident in who they are, surely they won’t need to bully others into questioning who they are?

My pledge for 2016’s Anti-Bullying Week is to ensure that my loud, gregarious and sometimes shy small person is always told he can achieve. I will teach him to be kind and caring and to cherish all of his friends. That way, I know that when I pick him up from nursery at the end of the day, I will always receive great updates about his behaviours. When the Nursery Nurse explained to me a couple of months ago that when one of my sons friends fell in the playground, he dashed to their side, picked them up, dusted their hands and looked right into their eyes and told them ‘it’s all ok’, I know we are doing something right.