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A critique of anti bullying week within schools

Bullying, the act of deliberately intimidating or persecuting those who are weaker (Oxford English Dictionary, 2002) has become a frequently used word in relation to our schools. It is a phenomenon that attracts a great deal of political and media interest and which is a high priority (if not the highest) for educational establishments to tackle.

Bullying in schools is the concern of pupils, teachers, parents and communities alike due to its wide reaching effects and potentially devastating consequences. It is difficult to tell whether there has been a significant increase in bullying over recent years or whether there is just greater awareness, either way the problem of bullying is now something everyone is alert to and encouraged to take responsibility for eradicating.

The main focus of anti-bullying practice is on the social environment in which bullying occurs. More attention needs to be given to the physical environment of schools and whether they deter bullying. Schools are extremely expensive to build and therefore when demands change, we rarely have the resources to build anew, we simply adapt and extend old buildings. Bullying can often be the scourge of the opportunist and as such we have an obligation to ensure that the physical environment of schools is non-conducive to bullying.

It is clear that bullying is an age-old problem that is now recognised more and more in situations throughout a person's life (including the workplace) and not just in the playground. Whilst it is essential that anti-bullying practice and policy remain in the public eye to ensure a continued and concerted effort to reduce the problem, it is equally important to establish the most effective methods of intervention through evidence based research. It is also essential that we remain alert to the changing dynamics of bullying (e.g. cyber-bullying) and proactive in developing new and effective measures to combat such changes.

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