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Carrying out projects in class, or as a school, makes sense if you are trying to find out whether bullying is a problem in your school, or whether your anti-bullying policy is effective. You could even host an anti-bullying week assembly, using ideas from our Anti-Bullying Week page.
There are no official statistics for the number of pupils being bullied at any one time in the UK. The only type of bullying which has to be recorded in the UK is racist bullying. Neither are there any statistics for the number of young people who kill themselves due to distress over bullying. These figures do not have to be officially recorded but it is believed that around 16-20 pupils in the UK commit suicide every year. Some deaths are recorded at inquests as an 'open verdict' meaning there isn't enough evidence for the coroner to decide exactly what happened.
If you want to find out the extent of bullying in your school, a survey is a good place to start. Pupils should be able to come up with some questions about the things you feel are important at your own school. For instance, you might want to ask if particular areas of school are unsafe.
Before you begin, decide whether the survey is for a particular year group, the whole school or whether parents should be included in it too. You need to consider what you will do as a follow-up to the survey, anyone who reports bullying, even if it's anonymous, will expect that action will be announced along with the results. This is a great opportunity to get pupils to be part of updating your existing anti-bullying policy.
If you want to publicise your project you could make a prominent display with pupils' pictures, poems and anti-bullying quotes. Perhaps you could put on a play. A gift token or other small prize for the best ones is a good incentive.
If you do a survey and collate the results with the idea of updating your school bullying policy, then think about doing another survey after a year, to see how effective any changes to the policy have been.
It isn't always practicable to carry out a full survey without a lot of planning so if you feel that bullying is a problem in class and you want to do some work with a group of children then that's a good idea. We've used this with groups ranging from very young children to teenagers and it's always interesting and revealing, to them and to us. We run TeenBoundaries workshops in schools to prevent sexual bullying, peer on peer sexual exploitation and promote positive gender relationships. Find out more about TeenBoundaries.
Ask the youngsters to call out things which are bullying ie name calling, hitting, taking friends away, and make a list of them on the blackboard. Then ask them to call out words which would describe how this behaviour would make someone being bullied feel. Finally, ask them how they think bullying should be dealt with ie a telling-off, detention etc.
You can use this simple method to reinforce school rules and to explain that telling a teacher or other member of staff is not telling tales but something that everyone should do to make school a safer place.
Bullying UK is often asked what are the most common forms of bullying in secondary schools. Our experience has shown that boys and girls tend to bully in different ways. Teenage girls are more likely to use exclusion from friendships, rumour spreading, gossip and name calling while boys - although they do indulge in these things - are more likely to punch and kick their victims than girls and to use intimidation. Read our report about Girls and Bullying.
Girls are the main perpetrators of mobile phone abuse and also on the receiving end of most text message abuse and silent calls. Girls who are good friends often tell each other their big secrets and, when they fall out, this sometimes means that the ex-friend posts really embarrassing things about the other girl on the internet. This can be very upsetting but anyone who does this can easily be traced by the police - even the creation of a false identity leaves behind 'digital fingerprints'.
Posting nasty stuff on the internet about someone else, or altering photos of them to make them obscene, can be harassment which is against the law. It's also against the law to use the phone system, which includes the internet, to cause alarm or distress. Find out more about cyberbullying.