Do’s and Don’ts When Your Teen is Being Bullied

We always recommend talking openly with your children around subjects that can affect them as they are growing up. As bullying will affect up to 7 in 10 young people before they reach their 18th birthday, it is important to be prepared.

 

  • Always talk openly with young people about bullying so that they willingly share any concerns with you and it doesn’t become a ‘taboo’ subject
  • Listen carefully and show them that you have listened by talking it through
  • Don’t dismiss the bullying as “part of growing up” and to “ignore it”. This will only teach them to tolerate bullying behaviour
  • Put any anger aside – it is vital to prioritise how THEY are feeling. If you feel you need support, then seek this out separately
  • Ask them what THEY want to do about it; it’s tempting to completely take over but this is very disempowering for young people and takes away control from them in a situation where they may already feel powerless
  • Regularly check in with them so you know what’s going on and to be sure they are happy with whatever action was decided upon
  • Make sure they do not feel excluded from any action that is taken. They may already feel worried about what is going to happen
  • Reassure them that it is NOT their fault. They did not do anything to ‘deserve’ being bullied
  • Remind them that it is the attitude and behaviour of the perpetrator that is at fault
  • Try and be sympathetic towards the perpetrator; it is highly likely that they are experiencing serious issues of their own
  • Keep clear records of everything: Incidents, calls and visits to school
  • Once you have reported the bullying, keep in regular contact with the school or college to ensure they are dealing with the situation

When Teachers Don’t Act

All state schools (but not private) MUST have a behaviour policy in place, by law, which includes measures to prevent bullying. This policy is decided upon by each school and has to be made available to all staff, pupils and parents. It covers behaviour and conduct of pupils before, after and during the school day.

UK schools must also follow and abide by the anti-discrimination law to prevent harassment and bullying within their school.

It is important to know that some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. These include: Violence or assault, theft, harassment or intimidation (e.g. abusive or threatening calls, emails, letters or texts) and hate crimes. School staff can also report bullying to the police.

  • In most circumstances, you should report any bullying to the school in the first instance
  • Keep clear records of all contact with the school; phone calls, text messages, visits and meetings
  • The school will deal with the situation in different ways depending upon the severity of the bullying. This could include; disciplinary measures, mediation, exclusion or restorative justice
  • Any action must take account of any special educational needs or disabilities that the pupils have

If you are not happy with the school’s action:

  • Raise the situation with the school governors
  • Make a formal complaint to the Local Education Authority
  • Complain to OFSTED who will respond within 30 days to advise you if they will investigate. Contact them on 0300 1234 234 or [email protected]
  • Typical process of complaints: teacher > senior teacher > assistant head teacher > head teacher > Board of Governors > Local Education Authority > OFSTED > Department for Education

If you believe that you child is being discriminated against, contact:

  • Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS): 0808 800 0082 for help and advice.

Discrimination can include (but is not limited to); race, colour, nationality, religion, belief, disability, sexual identity, gender or sexual orientation.


Common Signs of Bullying in Teens

For many people, bullying is what shapes a large part of their experience in life as a teenager or young adult. Although there are many different types of bullying that some experience on a daily basis, this doesn’t make any one of them lesser than the others. As part of our continued commitment to monitoring and evaluating the climate of bullying, we consistently find that approximately 1 in 2 teens experience some degree of bullying, with up to 7 in 10 experiencing cyber bullying.

Signs that a teen is being bullied:

  • Their moods. People who have been bullied will often have a sense of low-worth and this can be seen through their mood and attitude. They will often lose motivation for certain things and tasks that they might otherwise enjoy.
  • A loss in appetite. This ties in with a change in mood since we all know that when you are feeling low, the last thing that you probably want to do is eat. This can cause a large amount of problems if it is happening on a regular basis.
  • A desire for isolation. With people becoming more and more reliant on the internet and the things on it, the web can be a very dangerous place for young people. Through our research we have found that there has been a rise in young people spending more time online, more time alone and less time spent outdoors and with family.
  • More time spent playing computer games. Although there is a large population of young people and even adults who playing video games, for some people, this is used as an escape so it may be a good idea to keep an eye on the amount of time spent on these platforms.
  • Time spent sleeping. Through this research we have also found that a noticeable percentage of young people will spend more time sleeping, it may be related to the wide world of video gaming but this could also result in them not wanting to wake up for school.
  • Decrease in time spent focusing on their studies and less time thinking about the future. The future is supposed to be an exciting prospect with things like university and careers around the corner so this could be a red flag in terms of suspecting that you child is being bullied.

How you can help them

  • Having an open and honest relationship with your child/children is the first step in being able to tackle bullying as they are more likely to open up about the subject, say what has been happening to them, who is doing the bullying and how they are feeling.
    Sometimes all young people need is someone to talk to but if there is no one to turn toward, the years of a teen or young adult can be a very solitary place.
  • A large majority of young people that have experienced bullying have and probably never will tell anyone or report it through fear and a lack of faith that it will be taken seriously.
  • A step that can be taken is to speak to their teachers and ask for them to keep an eye out for any of the above signs as a lot of bullying happens in schools away from the safety of their own homes.
  • The ones being bullied need to be able to understand that there need not be an embarrassment or a stigma attached to what is or has happened to them and need to know that there are people close to them, organisations and teachers that they can turn to for help.

In addition to our advice above, we strongly recommend that parents and guardians familiarise themselves with our research reports for the latest trends and recommendations. You may view them here.


Homohate and Bihate: the Ultimate Guide

We are frequently asked why we use the words ‘homohate’ and ‘bihate’ instead of homophobia and biphobia. Well, really – it’s rather quite simple. A phobia is an irrational fear that extends beyond the control of the person who has it and frankly, it’s really silly to call it that. The behaviour, often stemming from a lack of education or insecurities is in fact a classified hate crime – meaning that it’s illegal to do in the UK.

What is Homohate and Bihate?

Homohate and bi hate are terms that we use to describe the discriminatory behaviours and attitudes that people have on somebody else formed around the basis of their sexual identification. Most frequently affecting gay men, lesbian women (homohate) and those who are bisexual (bihate). Sometimes, people can experience these types of hate crimes even if they identify as being straight; that is often because sometimes people associate personality and appearance with sexuality, which is totally not true.

How does it materialise?

Like all hate crimes, homohate and bihate can materialise in a variety of ways and vary in seriousness. Examples include:

  • The use of unacceptable language used in a derogatory way, such as “fag” and “queer” – although some people do not take offence, these terms are universally accepted as being derogatory .
  • Being treated unfairly on the basis of an attitude towards your sexuality. This can include exclusion from friendship groups and indirect bullying.
  • Being verbally attacked or cyber bullied on the basis of your sexuality.
  • Inappropriate sexual harassment or advances that are designed to embarrass or undermine you.
  • Physical assault or threatening behaviour.

How common is it?

Sadly, we consistently find that around 1 in 10 cite homohate/bihate as the reason for their bullying. We also find that young lesbian, gay and bi people are high risk individuals in terms of susceptibility to bullying; suggesting that it is still an issue for some of society.

Is being gay, lesbian or bi normal?

We cannot stipulate this enough – your sexuality is not something that you are able to consciously control. It is a part of you that you are born with and recent studies have found that it is genetic and down to your DNA. Many people feel the need to hide their sexuality through fear.

What can I do about it?

First and foremost, understand that your sexuality IS NOT the problem here. The problem is the fact that somebody has homohate/bihate attitudes. Behaviours and attitudes, we can change. Your sexuality, however, we cannot. Please do not try to change yourself – you’re headed for a brick wall if you do. Here are our top tips on how to deal with homohate and bihate bullying:

  • Assess how serious it is: The clue is in the title, homohate and bihate behaviours are hate crimes and you can actually report them to the Police. We would recommend that you evaluate the severity before doing it though. Certainly if the abuse if prolonged, physical or sexual – report it immediately.
  • Tell somebody: Like all types of bullying, it will be difficult to resolve without telling somebody first. Not only does it document evidence, but it is a step towards getting help and also will take a huge weight from your shoulders. Speak to a parent/guardian, family member, friend, counsellor or somebody here, at Ditch the Label.
  • Evidence it: Keep a diary of events and witnesses. Take screenshots of anything that is said online.
  • Report it: Start by reporting it to a teacher at school, or the social network. If this doesn’t work, your progress of authority should then goto a senior teacher > head teacher > Board of Governors > Local Education Authority > Department for Education.
  • Don’t isolate yourself: Our research finds that people often isolate themselves and see themselves as the problem. Please don’t. Surround yourself with people who are kind, warm and have your best interests at heart.
  • Understand why somebody is bullying you: The sad reality is that bullying is a learnt behaviour and is usually a coping mechanism for something stressful. Somebody may be bullying you because they are unhappy with themselves, jealous, uneducated about particular areas of diversity or there could be abuse at home.
  • Mediation: This is essentially a facilitated conversation between you and the person who is bullying you – it may sound scary but an adult will be there and you will no doubt find it to be a very empowering experience. It will give you an opportunity to get to know the other person and to understand them better, in addition to educating them and showing them how the bullying has made you feel.

Getting Further Help

If the above doesn’t help you, or you need further advice – please reach out. Click here for further support.


Mental Health: the Ultimate Guide

About Mental Health

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The term ‘Mental Health’ describes your state of wellbeing and is sometimes called emotional health; it affects how we think, feel and behave. If we are feeling down it is often referred to as ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’.
Good mental health can help you make the most of your potential and opportunities. It can help you cope with life so you can enjoy time with family, at school, college, university, work and with your friends.
We all experience times when when we feel low or stressed; this is a natural part of life and for most people these feelings pass. For example, it is normal to feel anxious before a big exam or important event and this can actually help us feel more alert.
Sometimes however, our mental health can be negatively affected by events such as bereavement, illness or injury, pressure at school or a lack of sleep and the anxiety and stress can develop into something more serious.
At Ditch the Label we know from our research and interventions that many young people develop symptoms of mental health problems as a result of bullying.

Talking About Mental Health

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There is unfortunately a stigma attached to discussing mental health and some people can experience discrimination over it. This means that it can make talking about it feel uncomfortable and people may be reluctant to share their feelings. There are also many myths surrounding mental health but it is far more common than most people realise.
  • 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems each year
  • It can happen to anyone
  • Sometimes the reason is not obvious
  • Our mental health does not always remain the same. It can change as our circumstances change in our life
  • It is possible to recover
  • You can still lead a full and productive life
  • A mental health problem can make us feel as bad, or even worse than a physical illness
  • It is NOT a sign of weakness
  • Good, positive mental health is just as important as good physical health and it is very healthy to be aware of, and to voice how you are feeling.

Symptoms Can Include

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  • Extended periods of sadness, low mood, feeling hopeless
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being tearful and/or irritable
  • Lack of interest and motivation in anything
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Not wanting to be around others
  • Intense anxiety and worry
  • Being unable to focus or concentrate
  • Self-harming
  • Experiencing suicidal thoughts

What You Can Do

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Everyone is different and while some people may appear to bounce back quickly, others will take a little longer.
  • Write down all the things that are troubling you and then go through each individual point and see if there are any ways in which you could improve that situation
  • Try and get more sleep
  • Exercise – this releases natural chemicals in the body which lift your mood
  • Talk about your problems – confide in someone you trust or seek counselling
  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation
  • Work out a manageable plan to cover stressful periods like exams
  • Set yourself small, manageable tasks which are easier to cope with
  • If you feel ashamed, exhausted, guilty, neglectful, worthless – remind yourself that this is the depression ‘talking’
  • You are not a burden. Your loved ones care about you and will want to help
  • You cannot just ‘snap out of it’ – it takes help, support and time
  • Ask a trusted friend or relative to check in with you regularly
  • Allow yourself not to be ‘perfect’ – many people with depression or anxiety set themselves extremely high standards and feel bad if they fail to meet them
  • Remind yourself of all the things you do well – don’t over-focus on something that does not go to plan

Get Help

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If you are feeling low for more than a few days or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in this article it is important to reach out for help and support.
Confide in a trusted friend or family member and do not hesitate to visit your GP. You can discuss with them how you are feeling and any underlying issues you may have. They will be able to advise you on the treatments and therapies which may be available. This can include referrals to counsellors and specialised mental health professionals.
You can also call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 if you need to talk to someone urgently. They are there 24 hours a day, every day.
There is more advice available from Mind at www.mind.org.uk.

Racism: the Ultimate Guide

What is Racism?

Racism can be defined as prejudice, discrimination or hostility – or in other words; having a great hate or dislike directed towards a person, or group of people because of race, ethnicity or religion. This is based on the belief that the perpetrator’s (bully) race/ beliefs are more superior that the race/beliefs of the recipient (victim).

Is stereotyping a form of racism?

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Stereotyping is often based upon assumptions. Making “stab in the dark” guesses about what an individual may be like has very little evidence or proof about a certain group that an individual may belong to. In today’s society it can be difficult not to stereotype. The brain works in a way where we are automatically ‘trained’ to associate an idea of someone with a perception we have stored in our mind from the past, or from images that we are exposed to in the media.
In most cases racist comments stem from negative stereotypes.
Example:
A bearded guy is wearing a black trench jacket, huckleberry hat and skinny jeans. Some people may automatically assume he is Jewish; however he could just as easily be a Christian who grew a beard because his partner found it attractive and he’s following the latest style trends from Men’s GQ.

Why are people racist?

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We can’t define the exact reason why somebody decides to act in a racist manner. Racism like a lot of other prejudice-based hate, is normally a learnt behaviour. None of us are born with the ability to read an email or sing a song, nor are we born with the ability to discriminate against someone because of where they were born or the colour of their skin.
Racist people normally feel threatened or intimidated by a culture or race that is not common to them or that they have limited understanding of. Unfortunately in society today, people tend to act negatively towards the unknown rather than taking the time to understand or embrace that difference.

What is racial discrimination?

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Racial discrimination can be defined as two different categories: Direct and Indirect.
Indirect racial discrimination takes place when a person or organisation introduces a rule that discriminates against people from a certain racial minority. Normally the factors of this idea/rule are unclear and not justifiable.
Example:
A Hair Salon states in a job ad that they’re unable to employ people who wear religious head attire because they want their customers to be able see their stylist’s hair. This is in-direct discrimination; this rule has no bearing on the capability of the candidate’s ability to style hair properly.
Direct racial discrimination takes place when a person purposely goes out of their way to exclude someone specifically because of their race. These actions are normally very direct, thoughtless and are intended to get an instant reaction.
Example:
An Afro-Caribbean Society restricts admission based purely on applicants’ skin colour. This is a form of direct discrimination. They haven’t taken into consideration the amount of people who may indeed be from BME that are also of Caucasian descent.

What can you do to overcome racism?

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  • Embrace and accept who you are. It may be unfortunate that some small-minded people may try to judge and discriminate against you because of your ethnic origins. Always feel comfortable and confident with who you are.
  • Do not let racist attitudes exclude you from society: Racists want people to be segregated so by you withdrawing yourself from that situation you are letting them win.
  • Racism is a learned behaviour. If you are being subjected to racism in school, college in the workplace or online, report it. People, such as teachers can speak to perpetrators to help change their behaviour and attitudes. If you feel the appropriate action is still not being taken, report it to the police.
  • By reporting racism you are not only helping yourself – you are also helping someone else from experiencing this prejudice.
  • Be open to accepting people of all races; encourage your friends and family to do the same.

6 Things you didn’t know about racism

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  • People of the same ethnicity can practice racism. For example, if a white female made a negative comment to another white female because of the fact she was raised in a Romany Gypsy community, this is racism.
  • Saying “racism is better now than it was 30 years ago” is the equivalent of saying “cancer is better now than it was 30 years ago”. Yes, we’re better at understanding and tackling it, but cancer is still cancer.
  • A racist incident can be defined as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”
  • If you witness a racist incident that causes you offense, you have the legal right to report that incident to the police, even if you don’t know the victim or the perpetrator.
  • A racially or religiously aggravated offence can carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in the UK Criminal Justice System.
  • Skin colour really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin colour have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or intelligence. Knowing someone’s skin colour doesn’t necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.

Hate Crime: the Ultimate Guide

What is Hate Crime?

Hate crime is a criminal offence. It is an act of hatred or aggression directed at a specific person, group or their property. It is motivated by hostility or prejudice against:

  • A personal characteristic
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Faith

This may involve bullying, physical assault, verbal abuse and/or insults, damage to property, threatening behaviour, robbery, harassment, offensive letters (hate mail) or graffiti and inciting others to commit hate crimes.

The legal consequences for perpetrators can be serious and range from a fine to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

 

Why Report Hate Crime?

Reporting hate crime is important because it provides a platform from which action can be taken against perpetrators and for the abuse to stop. It can often lead to vital support for the victim and it can also benefit wider society by creating safer public areas.

Hate crime can go unreported for many reasons including:

  • Many people do not know that they can report this kind of abuse
  • People do not know how to report it
  • Some people have reservations or fears around approaching the police or authority figures

An increase in reporting will:

  • Provide more accurate statistics which leads to better services within the justice system and improves how hate crimes are responded to
  • Challenge attitudes and behaviours that endorse hatred towards anyone perceived as ‘different’
  • Encourage early intervention to prevent situations escalating
  • Increase confidence for victims in coming forward to seek support and justice
  • Ensure that the right support is available for those that need it


How to report Hate Crime

In an emergency, ALWAYS dial 999 or 112 – All calls are free and will be answered by trained operators.

If you are in immediate danger, or to report a crime in progress, dial 999 or 112 as above.

Other ways to contact the police:

  • Dial 101 to report non-urgent crimes or to make an enquiry
  • Call in at a police station. You can search by postcode via: http://www.police.uk
  • In incidents where the victim of a hate crime does not wish to approach the police directly there may be a police liaison officer for their region, or a Community Safety Partnership Department. Call 101 for further advice on this.
  • Reporting hate crime online: http://report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
  • Understandably it can sometimes be very difficult to report an incident alone. If you do not have a friend or family member to accompany you, help with reporting via voluntary and other agencies can be found here: http://www.report-it.org.uk/organisations_that_can_help
  •  You can also report hate crime anonymously via Crimestoppers here: 0800 555 111 / https://crimestoppers-uk.org

15 Safer Alternatives to Self Harm

Self-harm can be an incredibly dangerous way of dealing with things so we always advise that you speak up about how you are feeling with a trusted adult. Whilst seeking support, you may still get urges to self-harm and there are several alternatives that are safer that you could try. Please note that you are responsible for your own health it is important that your actions do not cause any distress, harm or damage to other people or things. We accept no liability for unfavourable outcomes as a result of this advice. If in doubt, we advise you speak to your GP or a trusted adult.
  • Squeeze ice in your hands really hard – this will be uncomfortable but you will find it has a very similar effect
  • Use a marker pen to draw or write words on the place where you want to cut
  • Snap a rubber band against your wrist
  • Slap a hard surface – such as a wall or table top
  • Flatten aluminium cans for recycling – see how fast you can do it
  • Scream as loudly as you can (into a pillow or cushion if you don’t want to be heard)
  • Punch a pillow, cushion or a punch bag – it may be a good idea to consider learning martial arts
  • Throw a cushion as hard as you can against a wall as often as you need to
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Exercise; especially activities where you exert upper body strength like boxing and swimming
  • Tear up an old phone directory, catalogue or magazine
  • Play loud music and dance as energetically as you can (use earphones if you don’t want to be heard)
  • Write down exactly how you are feeling in a diary
  • Go for a bike ride or long walk
  • Look after and be kind to yourself; it doesn’t have to be something active. You could try meditation, aromatherapy oils or bath products, paint your nails, massage your hands or feet, watch a film and chill out. Play with and cuddle a pet. Cook or bake.

GETTING FURTHER SUPPORT

We have a ton of support available here.
If you are feeling suicidal or are in a potentially dangerous situation, we strongly advise you either speak to an adult, call 999 or call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, they are there 24 hours a day, every day.

Self Harm: the Ultimate Guide


Self-harm is unfortunately, rather common amongst teens and adults alike. It is usually used as a coping mechanism or as a means of communicating anxiety and distress and is not necessarily linked to suicide or suicidal thoughts. In this guide, we look at how self harm can manifest, why people do it, how to understand your own emotions, how to recognise if somebody is self harming, how you can help them and then finally – our top safe alternatives to self harm.

What Is It?

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Self-harm is when a person abuses or injures themself on purpose. It is usually a way of coping with or expressing, overwhelming anxiety and emotional distress.
Self-harm can manifest in various ways, including:
  • Cutting, picking or burning the skin
  • Banging or scratching the body
  • Pulling out hair
  • Misusing prescribed or ‘over-the counter’ medications
  • Abusing alcohol and/or illegal drugs
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia, binge eating and bulimia.
Self-harm is not recognised as an illness in itself, but it is often a sign of another mental health problem such as depression and anxiety.

Why Do People Self Harm?

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Although sometimes misunderstood as attention seeking, those who self-harm usually do so as a way to cope with deep emotions, distress or traumatic experiences. It can sometimes be a way to try and show how they are feeling; a ‘cry for help’ if they are unable to voice this. It can be a way to relieve unbearable tension, take control of their life and to handle scary emotions, moods and feelings.
Another misconception is that it is an attempt to end their life. Whilst it is true that people who self-harm are at a high risk of taking their lives, it is more commonly recognised as a coping strategy; a way of stopping this from happening.
People who self-harm may feel self-hatred and have very low self esteem. They may also feel sad, anxious, angry, lonely, guilty, numb, disconnected, empty, hopeless, unworthy or trapped. Sometimes the act of self-harming temporarily provides a respite and relief from these feelings.
Bullying is a major cause of self-harming, with other causes including:
  • Worrying about school and college work
  • Difficult relationships with friends or family
  • Money worries
  • Issues around coming to terms with sexuality
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Living up to cultural expectations
  • Traumatic experiences such as sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • Bereavement or miscarriage.
Sometimes psychological illness can be the cause of self-harm such as hearing voices telling them to do it, repeated negative thoughts urging them to self-harm or a symptom of a personality disorder which causes instability in thought processes.

How To Understand Your Emotions

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Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to figure out how we are feeling and the route behind those emotions. A good starting point could be:
  • Write down every single thing that is troubling you and then go through each individual point and see if there are any ways in which you could improve that situation.
  • Write a letter to somebody that has upset you, explaining how they have made you feel and how you would like to see things change. It may not be possible, or even necessary to post it as just writing it can be a very helpful process.
  • Make a list of all the good things in your life; your achievements and of all the things that you do well. The people that you love and care about.
  • Allow yourself to process your emotions; to be upset, be angry and cry. This is perfectly normal and healthy.
  • Talk everything through with someone that you trust about how you are feeling. This can be incredibly helpful in gaining insight and perspective on situations.

How To Know If Someone Is Self Harming

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Those who self-harm will usually try and hide it from others, so it can be difficult for friends and family to know it is happening and to help. It is important to be aware of some common signs if you suspect that someone you know is self-harming. Look out for:
  • Cuts, bruises, scratches or burns on wrists, arms, thighs or chest
  • Keeping fully covered up, even in hot weather
  • Low moods, sadness, lack of interest or motivation, sudden tearfulness
  • Being withdrawn and not ‘joining in’ or speaking to others
  • Significant weight loss, weight gain, a change in, or being secretive about eating habits
  • Low-esteem and confidence such as blaming themselves for anything that goes wrong, or saying that they are not good enough
  • Hair being pulled out
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

How to help someone who Is Self Harming

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  • It is essential that you approach them in a caring and understanding way and remember that self-harming is a sign of emotional distress. It is likely that the person feels deep shame and guilt about being ‘found out’ and they themselves may not fully understand why they are doing it.
  • Make time to listen and be sympathetic to what they say. Do not judge them or offer criticism. Try hard to understand how difficult they are finding life.
  • Never react in a negative way or get angry – this will only serve to make the problem worse
  • It is important to be aware that they may not want to discuss it with you and the reasons why they are self-harming, but do suggest they seek professional help. In the first instance urge them to make an appointment with their GP who can offer referrals to counsellors or mental health professionals.
  • Alternatively they may initially feel more comfortable approaching an anonymous helpline such as the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90
  • Do seek urgent medical help if their injuries are serious

Top Alternatives to self harm

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Self-harm can be an incredibly dangerous way of dealing with things so we always advise that you speak up about how you are feeling with a trusted adult. Whilst seeking support, you may still get urges to self-harm and there are several alternatives that are safe that you could try.
  • Squeeze ice in your hands really hard
  • Scream as loudly as you can (into a pillow or cushion if you don’t want to be heard)
  • Punch a pillow, cushion or a punch bag
  • Throw a cushion as hard as you can against a wall as often as you need to
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Exercise; especially activities where you exert upper body strength like boxing and swimming
  • Tear up an old phone directory, catalogue or magazine
  • Play loud music and dance as energetically as you can (use earphones if you don’t want to be heard)
  • Use a marker pen to draw or write words on the place where you want to cut
  • Go for a bike ride or long walk
  • Write down exactly how you are feeling in a diary
  • Look after and be kind to yourself; it doesn’t have to be something active. You could try meditation, aromatherapy oils or bath products, paint your nails, massage your hands or feet, watch a film and eat some chocolate. Play with and cuddle a pet. Cook or bake.

Getting Further Support

We have a ton of support available here.
If you are feeling suicidal or are in a potentially dangerous situation, we strongly advise you either speak to an adult, call 999 or call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, they are there 24 hours a day, every day.

Bullying of SEN&D Youth: The Hard Truth

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Bullying can of course affect anyone, often leaving young people feeling vulnerable and isolated. This is particularly true for young people with SEN&D (Special Educational Needs and Disability) who may already be experiencing this, thereby creating a double disadvantage.

What the Stats Tell Us

While we shouldn’t assume that all SEN&D young people will be bullied, the facts make for worrying reading. Each year Ditch the Label produces an in-depth bullying survey and from this we know that:

  • 63% of those with a physical disability are far more likely to experience extreme bullying and social exclusion.
  • 67% have self-harmed and 40% have tried to take their own lives.
  • 74% of those with Asperger Syndrome or Autism experience bullying, with verbal bullying being particularly severe.

That this is happening at all should be enough for us to sit up and take notice but considering these figures are significantly above the national average means intervention, action and education is vital and that current approaches are not working.

Bullying can happen in any environment, including special schools, but with many SEN&D young people spending much of their school life in mainstream education, the risks are increased. There are many valuable benefits for inclusion in terms of personal and educational development for all pupils, but it can leave SEN&D pupils vulnerable to the prejudices surrounding disability.

Schools must ensure that they encourage a ‘whole school’ culture of education and respect, which includes the wider community, parents and carers. Negative attitudes towards disability and other conditions need to be addressed from very early on in education and then reinforced as standard throughout school life. SEN&D children may already be treated differently by the adults around them and be doing different schoolwork, so it is vital that this is incorporated into the classroom as smoothly as possible.

Many young people with Asperger Syndrome or Autism can experience huge problems with communication, which makes forming and maintaining friendships difficult. They may not recognise when they are being bullied and additionally, their ability to communicate concerns or to report bullying will be considerably more difficult.

Top Recommendations

Parents, guardian, teachers and other staff members need to be tuned in to the communication style of SEN&D children and young people and the things that they, and their peers are saying. They must be ready to take action where appropriate without stereotyping anyone as a victim.

It is vital to keep an open dialogue with all children around subjects like bullying so that it is never a taboo or awkward conversation. It may be necessary to take a different approach if you suspect someone with SEN&D is being bullied due to their age and level of understanding. For example a direct question may not be the best approach; rather a general chat around the subject giving them the opportunity to voice concerns. If vocal communication is extremely difficult or impossible, then a useful approach can be drawing or using visual prompts like facial expressions.

Every school and college has a legal obligation to safeguard children and young people and this covers the entire day, including breaks and lunch, which can be particularly problematic. But we each have a responsibility to assist in the prevention of bullying.

Parents and guardians can maintain good communication with schools, especially with class teachers and SENCO staff so any issues can be responded to swiftly and dealt with appropriately. This may need to be more than just using a home/school diary.

Ensure that your child knows you are listening and taking it seriously and take the time to reassure them that you will do all you can to sort out any problems. If you feel you need extra support approaching a parents support group that is specific to your child’s condition can be extremely useful.

Ditch the Label are committed to working for a future that is free from bullying and discrimination for ALL young people.

If you would like to find out more or need advice or support please contact us.