Students at Witham, England’s Maltings Academy in Essex are taking action to confront bullying, and they’re focused on creating new, anonymous ways for students to report incidents.
Six students in year nine recently formed an anti-bullying council to work as ambassadors to encourage students to report bullying incidents through school staff. But the students also want to open up other ways their classmates can highlight problems without exposing their identity, the Clacton Gazette reports.
“Of course, (students) can speak with their teachers, but the ambassadors want to be able to offer alternative, anonymous ways to report problems that they also feel comfortable with,” said Mark Skinner, head of year nine. “The focus is not just on preventing bullying in school, but looking at the problems young people face online.”
The ambassadors will work with the whole student council to develop the anti-bullying strategies, a process that ultimately benefits all students, Skinner said.
“It is giving them some responsibility and it is great to see them so caring of others,” he said.
“The year nine students felt it would be beneficial to involve students at an early stage, so they are consulting with their peers and staff as to what approaches would work,” Emma Baker, head of Maltings Academy, told the Gazette. “For example, they are thinking about how they can incorporate technology,” she said. “It’s great to see the students involved and raising awareness.”
Students and staff at Maltings are addressing the particular circumstances at the school with the new bullying reporting tools, and the focus on online bullying zeroes in on specific issues facing the school and countless others schools.
James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, noted how that engagement plays an important role in developing strong character in students.
“We can only care for the young in their particularity,” Hunter wrote in “The Content of Their Character,” an analysis of character education work in a variety of schools. “If we are not attentive to and understanding of these contexts, we are not caring for real, live human beings, but rather abstractions that actually don’t exist at all.”
Teachers and principals interested in a whole-school approach to bullying that also targets specific aspects of the problem can find a vast array of resources from the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
The program offers free webinars, online courses, program implementation, and guidance on securing funding, all focused on reducing existing bulling, preventing future problems, and developing better relations between students.
“All students participate in most aspects of the program, while students identified as bullying others, or as targets of bullying, receive additional individualized interventions,” according to the Olweus website. “The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer, more positive places for students to learn and develop.”