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Why is it important to raise awareness about bullying and cyberbullying?
UNESCO has declared that the first Thursday of November will be the International Day Against Violence And Bullying At School Including Cyberbullying, as a way to recognise that school-related violence is an infringement on the rights of young people to have safe access to education.
It has been reported that almost one-third of teens worldwide have experienced some form of bullying. Whether it be in-person or online, physical or emotional, many young people have experienced or are currently experiencing bullying and harassment, and this can have lasting effects on people’s lives. School should be a safe space for every young person that attends, but bullying can cause many students to be afraid of going.
UNESCO has reported that as a consequence of COVID-19, and with most schooling being moved online, there has been a rise in online violence, including cyberbullying. Children and young teens are spending more time online than they ever have before, leading them to be more at risk of falling victim to online violence. It is important for educational institutions to be teaching young people about the risks online, and about how to stay safe in the digital age.
UNESCO reported that ‘Online violence including cyber bullying has a negative effect on academic achievement, mental health, and quality of life of students. Children who are frequently bullied are nearly three times as likely to feel left out at school as those who are not. They are also twice as likely to miss out on school and have a higher tendency to leave formal education after finishing secondary school.’ Missing school in itself can have negative impacts on a student’s education, and these students may be unable to reach their full potential in exams and classes due to missing school because of bullying.
There’s no one singular cause for bullying, but many marginalised groups report cases of targeted bullying, for example homophobic, racist, or ableist bullying. There are many forms of bullying, and no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to dealing with these incidents. Many schools claim to have zero-tolerance policies in regards to bullying and encourage students who are being bullied to reach out to an adult; in reality, many people who have been bullied will tell you that it’s not that simple, and that a lot of the time not enough is done to help vulnerable students. Hence why UNESCO’s International Day Against Violence and Bullying at School is important, in order to raise awareness to the drastic effects bullying can have on students mental health and wellbeing, and to encourage teachers and support staff in schools to review their approaches to bullying, and to adapt them if they’re not helpful.
If you or someone you know are struggling, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out:
Samaritans: 116 123
National Bullying Helpline: 0300 323 0169