I have great faith in schools. This is borne not so much of personal experience (which has been mixed) but of some kind of desperate need to believe that schools do and want to do their absolute best for young people. It’s also based on the wide experience I’ve had of individual teachers who absolutely would want to live up that ideal, dedicated, caring, overworked teachers who hate it as much as I do when we hear of kids having an unnecessarily bad time at school or during their school lives.
So, why is it that, while writing the chapter in a book I’m writing on teenage stress, I’ve been flooded with messages and emails from parents saying that their school hasn’t helped when incidents of cyber-bullying have been reported?
Why is it that I’ve today been told the following, and more?
“When I contacted her Head of Year she didn’t bother to return my call. … The school has a dedicated Student Support team who are ‘supposed’ to deal with all major friendship issues that occur. … The school’s attitude is that it will all blow over. … Arguments, bullying and gossip is spread instantaneously around the school and create a ganging up mentality.”
“If a teenager is having an argument via phone or text, they need to take time out to think about what they are saying, rather than reacting instantly to comments and that isn’t really advised by the school, but it should be.”
“Got no help from school so contacted police.”
“The school said it happened outside school hours so it wasn’t something they could deal with.”
“The school said best to ignore it.”
“They said it was just normal teenage behaviour and best ignored.”
So, I’ve created a questionnaire to find out whether this is a common experience. I’m glad to say that the first reply I got did show that the school had got it right and had a clear policy, but the next didn’t. Can you help by filling in the survey? It’s quick and totally anonymous.
I want to trust schools but if too many don’t treat this horrible problem seriously, that’s very worrying. I’d also love to hear from schools, as there may be aspects I haven’t considered here, such as concerns about legal liability. Let’s open a conversation about cyber-bullying.
What do you think and what has been your experience? And please do fill in the survey if possible.