Anti-Bullying Week 2020 provides us with the opportunity to send a clear and positive message that bullying of any kind is totally unacceptable and when it happens, we all have a responsibility to address it.
Building on the success of last year’s campaign, ‘Change Starts with Us’, anti-bullying week 2020 focusses on ‘What Made It Better?’. There is no better time than now to start having meaningful conversations with children and young people in schools, at home, in sports and youth clubs about their experiences of bullying and what interventions help most. We should all have a strong sense of the things that make us who we are and feel that we are valued. We are all born unique with different likes and preferences and we need to respect and celebrate our differences.
It is important for all of us to remember that action to address bullying is not limited to one week a year and must be embedded within a whole school or organisational approach. Respect should be an integral part of what is taught within the curriculum, and should be embedded in wider policies across the school community. Anti-Bullying Week gives us a fantastic opportunity to ‘reset’ – to re-think what we have achieved and what there is still to do. We can learn from each other’s progress, plan for the future and most importantly, support children and young people to shape future work.
We all know that positive relationships are the building blocks to developing children and young people’s resilience and promoting these relationships are key in shaping positive outcomes for children and young people. Environments that engage with young people, promote respect, celebrate difference and encourage positive relationships and behaviour are less likely to see bullying as acceptable behaviour. Children who experience kindness and empathy are more likely to grow into respectful adults. The impact of the work we do now will extend well beyond the school gates, or the sports clubs and impact on generations to come. Internationally, we are facing many challenges at the moment and it is as more important than ever that we stand firm with our values of respect, kindness and empathy.
I’m sure you will all agree that it is important that all children and young people know that if they are being bullied, things will get better. One of the first steps for children and young people who are being bullied, is to speak to someone they trust; whether that’s a friend, an adult in their life or a member of staff at their school.
Our national anti-bullying service respectme has a dedicated campaign website with events taking place throughout the week and has produced some really helpful resources for primary and secondary students to help schools and youth groups approach and guide conversations. I would encourage you all to share your own experiences and encourage children and young people to participate on social media platforms using #whatmadeitbetter.
I would like to thank everyone involved in anti-bullying week this year – you are making a real difference to other children and young people up and down the country. I would encourage you all to have those discussions with children and young people and be that person who helped make things better.
Education Secretary John Swinney