Have you ever been bullied? Chances are most people have experienced bullying in some form – whether we ourselves were the victim, we stood by as bullying took place, or we were the bully.
I recently read that 63 per cent of young people have experienced bullying at school. I can’t imagine how much damage that does to their confidence and love of learning – let alone the longer term effects.
I am a passionate supporter of the Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying programme and all the brilliant work they do within schools, with both students and teachers. This week as part of their ongoing work, over 600 young Anti-Bullying Ambassadors – aged between five and 18, from all over the UK – were invited to take part in an anti-bullying conference in London.
The event was designed to inspire young people to explore bullying issues by tapping into the arts and finding different ways to express themselves. From graffiti and drama classes, to rap and singing, each session focused on building confidence, celebrating our differences and giving each young person a platform to share their story.
It’s difficult to really grasp the extent of the trauma and hurt some of these children have seen and experienced, but the events of the day really inserted hope – seeing students of varying ages and backgrounds so vehemently support, care and respect one another was incredibly powerful.
The one-day-event actually marked the start of the official Anti-Bullying Week, and all week the Diana Award has and will be shouting its message far and wide to raise awareness, gain support and demand change. In fact today the team announced another exciting focus – a new campaign encouraging dictionary companies to change the definition of bullying. The dictionary defines a 'bully' as “a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker/” this is not the case. Bullies are not necessarily strong and the ones being bullied are not necessarily weak.
It’s a bold and needed statement, rightly disputing the stereotype that someone who is bullied is weak.
We want to send the clear message that more needs to be done to support young people and to do that, we must ensure the narrative surrounding these conversations suitably empowers and supports those affected. One of the key ways to do this, is by removing any reference of strong or weak from the definition.
I can assure with complete confidence that not one of the young people I met on Monday could be described as anything other than brave, resilient and compassionate.
Join me in supporting The Diana Award and their brilliant work and help persuade dictionaries to change the definition by tweeting and using #IAMNOTWEAK hashtag and the following handles: @CambridgeWords @OxfordWords @OED @MacDictionary @MerriamWebster @Google.