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Ahead of Anti-Bullying Week new poll shows children in England worry about being seen as ‘different’

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Anti-Bullying Alliance:

  • 40% of children polled said they would hide aspects of themselves for fear of being bullied
  • 61% of those who would hide aspects of themselves said they would hide or change the way they look to avoid being bullied
  • 64% of children polled have come across someone being bullied for being ‘different’ from others, yet more than a third (36%) say they don’t learn enough in school about what to do if it happens to them
  • Anti-Bullying Week 2017 (13-17 Nov) has the theme ‘All Different, All Equal’
  • Anti-Bullying Alliance patron Andy Day, with his band Andy and the Odd Socks, is getting schools and early years settings to celebrate what makes us all unique by asking children to wear odd socks to school on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week (13th Nov) and celebrate ‘Odd Socks Day’

Campaigners are urging schools to celebrate what makes pupils unique during Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 Nov) as a new poll of more than 1,600 8 to 16 year olds in England found that over half (52%) worry about being seen as ‘different’ from others, and 40% would hide or change aspects of themselves for fear of being bullied.

The poll, published by the Anti-Bullying Alliance based at the National Children’s Bureau, shows that while the majority of children (96%) think it is important to be yourself, of the two-fifths of children who would conceal something about themselves, 61% said they would hide or change the way they look to avoid being bullied.

Worryingly, 64% of children polled have come across someone being bullied because they were different – with children in primary school only marginally less likely to have done so than those in secondary school, suggesting that bullying behaviour can start at an early age. Despite this, more than a third (36%) said that teachers didn’t do enough to educate them about what to do if bullying happened to them.

The poll also found that 41% of children would keep quiet if someone else was being bullied because they didn’t want to be bullied themselves.

During Anti-Bullying Week, supported this year by award winning British technology company SafeToNet, children in schools across the country will be sending the message loud and clear that they are ‘All Different, All Equal’. The Anti-Bullying Alliance’s patron - children’s television star and frontman of children’s rock’n’roll band Andy and the Odd Socks, Andy Day - is getting children talking about celebrating what makes everyone unique in a fun way by encouraging children to wear odd socks on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week, raise money for anti-bullying charities and celebrate ‘Odd Socks Day’. Andy and the Odd Socks new single ‘Unique’ is being released to mark the beginning of Anti-Bullying Week 2017.

Martha Evans, Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said:

“This poll shows that some children are worried about being themselves for fear of bullying. They worry about many things that might make them ‘stand out’ including their appearance, disability, culture, or religion. It is so important that we learn to celebrate the things that make us all different, and are clear that it is never OK to bully someone.
“Anti-Bullying Week is sending the message we are ‘All Different, All Equal’ and we hope to provide a platform for children, teachers and parents, to raise awareness of what to do if you are being bullied, or see it happening to someone else. We are delighted to be working on such a positive campaign being celebrated by pupils, parents, schools and anti-bullying organisations across the country.”

Andy Day, of Andy and the Odd Socks, said:

“We are over the moon to be supporting Anti-Bullying Alliance on such an incredibly important issue as Anti-Bullying Week. Our songs are all about being unique and appreciating others unique qualities. Whilst this poll paints a worrying picture, encouraging acceptance of individuality at an early age can help prevent bullying from taking root. We are in a privileged position that enables us to influence younger children’s behaviour for good. Odd Socks Day is such a simple awareness raiser and we really hope schools will get on board.”

Richard Pursey, CEO of SafeToNet, said:

“We’re all different, this is a defining trait of being human and young people as they grow and mature should not be bullied for what makes them ‘different’. Social Media and the internet have many benefits but young people tell us that they are often worried about the additional pressures to be or look a certain way that the online world brings. SafeToNet is committed to helping create an environment where children who currently choose to hide aspects of their developing personality can use amazing online resources, without fear of bullying.”

Find out how to get involved with Anti-Bullying Week at www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/antibullyingweek and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #AntiBullyingWeek #AllDifferentAllEqual

Resources from Kidscape suitable for late primary/early secondary can be found at www.kidscape.org.uk/antibullyingweek

Please remember - Bullying is never OK and you should always speak to an adult you trust if it is happening to you or someone you know. You can also call Childline for advice on 0800 1111.

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