Trigger warning: this blog post covers the topic of bullying that some may find upsetting or distressing.
This post will consider:
- Bullying in UK schools today
- The impact of bullying on health, wellbeing and learning outcomes
- Online Schooling as an alternative
Bullying in UK schools today
While attending school should be a positive experience, bullying remains a significant problem for many young people in UK schools. In 2016 it was found that 1.5 million (50%) of young people reported incidences of bullying, with 145,800 being bullied on a daily basis (Ditchthelabel.org). Bullying is an abuse of power by a young person’s peers. It may take the form of repeated name-calling, exclusion, intentional cruelty, cyberbullying, physical attack, threat, or damage to property. Young people may be bullied for a number of reasons, including physical appearance, interests and hobbies, gender, or membership of minority groups such as race, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation.
The impact of bullying on health, wellbeing and learning outcomes
Being bullied is upsetting and traumatic for young people and a major cause of concern for parents. 44% of young people who are bullied are depressed, 41% experience social anxiety, and 33% have suicidal thoughts. This impacts physical health, with 27% of bullied young people reporting feeling ‘constantly ill’, compared to 8% of all young people (Ditchthelabel.org). Bullying is increasingly recognised by health professionals as a key risk factor for mental health illnesses in adulthood (Wolke and Lereya, 2015).
Being bullied significantly reduces a student’s ability to study and perform academically. Those who are bullied miss more days of school to avoid the bullies, are less motivated to study in their free time and are distracted in school. One child interviewed by the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label said the following:
“I was bullied all through secondary school, I wasn’t able to concentrate on my studies because of the bullying. I used to skip school or classes and I would make myself sick after I ate food just so that I didn’t have to go back to school the next day. Nobody wanted to be my friend, I would always be pushed or shoved out the way. Some people believe that bullying is ‘just part of growing up’. Well, let me tell you: suicide, depression and eating disorders should never be part of ‘growing up’.”
While it is a legal requirement for every school to have an anti-bullying policy, this cannot always prevent bullying from occurring. It can be incredibly difficult for parents to know how to deal with their child being bullied. For some, the only option is to withdraw their child from school completely and educate them at home to prevent them from further emotional and physical harm.
Online Schooling as an alternative
Homeschooling has been recommended by healthcare practitioners, anti-bullying charities, and teachers as an alternative form of education for children who are struggling in conventional schools. It can rebuild a child’s self-confidence in a safe environment away from bullies.
MyOnlineSchooling.com provides the option for a young person to be taught by experienced qualified teachers, in the safety and distraction-free environment of their own home. By following the National Curriculum from KS2 to iGCSE students can still sit exams at their local centre when they are ready. Each young person has a tailored learning plan suited to their own personal and educational needs and ongoing support from the Myonlineschooling team. They are taught in a small online class by a teacher who provides feedback after every session. They are also able to work and communicate with other homeschooled children in supervised small ‘online breakout groups’. By following the National Curriculum, as well as engaging in daily communication with teachers and other young people, this makes it easier to slot back into school if they choose to return.
Every child has the right to a safe and happy education and childhood. Despite this, bullying in UK schools today is a significant concern for a large number of young people and their parents. It can take many forms, such as physical or verbal abuse. It may be based on sexual orientation, race, or physical appearance. Bullying can cause social anxiety and depression, and affect a child’s motivation to study. For many parents, withdrawing their child from school is their only option. Online Schooling is an alternative to mainstream schooling. It enables young people to continue to follow the National Curriculum, from the safety of their own home.
If you are a concerned parent or have been affected by the content of this blog, below are some websites to look to for support, recommended by the NHS. They also recommend contacting your GP if you have ongoing concerns about your child.
Family Lives: Free and confidential 24-hour helpline for parents to speak about any parenting issue, including bullying.
0808 800 2222
NSPCC: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
- 0808 800 5000
Ditch the Label (2016) Bullying in the UK, Ditch the Label, available online at https://www.ditchthelabel.org/annual-bullying-survey-2016/
NHS (2016) Bullying: advice for parents, NHS, available online at https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Bullying/Pages/Bullyingadviceforparents.aspx
Wolke, D. and Lereya, S.T. (2015) Long-term effects of bullying. Archives of disease in childhood, available online at http://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/09/archdischild-2014-306667.short