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Anti-bullying week: not child-centered; instead, human-centered.

Written by Rachel Turner

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Posted on November 10 2019

This half term, I'm teaching PSHE to Year 3. The unit is about bullying. When I first looked at the planning, I thought that the children would be fine with the concept of bullying. The plan was to quickly move into a deeper understanding of why people bully, its effect on others and what can be done about it. I was wrong. Completely wrong. Instead, I was faced with a class of 30 children who actually didn't really know what bullying was. What I actually determined from their suggestions about the meaning of bullying was that it was associated with the severity of a person's actions. One child suggested that it was only bullying if a person got very hurt, but 'just a push' wasn't bullying.
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So finally, after dispelling any myths about what bullying was or was not, one child put his hand firmly into the air. "Miss, can adults be bullied?" 
For the first time in a long time, his question made me stop. Really stop. It made me quite emotional, upon reflection. "Yes," I said. "Adults can be bullied and adults can be bullies." Just as I had provoked surprised faces by explaining what bullying was to the Year 3's, there were now a sea of shocked faces. "Adults: grown ups, can be bullies?!!". 

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So in this anti-bullying week I implore us as educators, whether we are at the top or bottom of the educational hierarchy, to stop and think about bullying in our own school. Not just writing an anti-bullying policy for our children and expecting us to stamp down on those who dare to push and call names in the playground, but living and breathing the policy for all members of the school community. Bullying starts with making someone feel like they are less than they're worth. We are in such a powerful position as educators to make everyone feel valued. As an experienced school leader in the past, showing someone that you value what they do and who they are is a truly powerful way to nurture the wellbeing of staff.

Wellbeing does not start with one of our teacher prints, it starts with the value you put on yourself and those around you. Our teacher prints are advertisements of the type of educator and person you are.

This anti-bullying week I'll be abandoning my original plan. I still will be teaching my Year 3 class all about the impact of bullying on others, but my aim is to no longer refer to anything in the lesson as 'child centred', but 'human centred'. That anyone, as a human being, is capable of devaluing others, but we are all capable, no matter our age or position of standing up against it, too.

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