Get those odd socks ready – Anti-Bullying Week 2023 is here! 

Every year, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) organises Anti-Bullying Week across the UK and thousands of school children and younger pre-schoolers join with teachers and other adults to call out bullying behaviour in a bid to stop it. This year, the week runs from Monday 13th to Friday 17th November and the theme is “Make A Noise About Bullying”. 

The ABA and its partners have been researching bullying and promoting measures to prevent it for over 30 years and have come up with the following definition for bullying: 

“The repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be physical, verbal or psychological. It can happen face-to-face or online.” 

One thing to remember about bullying is that bullying behaviours can start in children as young as 3, so it is never too early to remind them about the positive things they can do to keep themselves and others safe. Children in their early years are still learning how to manage relationships, how to share and how to appreciate each other, so there are times when conflicts can occur. To be classed as bullying, however, there are four key behaviours to look out for. Bullying is:  

  • Intentional  
  • Hurtful 
  • Repetitive 
  • Involves an imbalance of power (age/strength/numbers etc.) 

A child who snatches a toy from another child on a one-off occasion would not be classed as bullying but would still need some intervention to explain that snatching things from others is not acceptable behaviour. However, if the child encouraged their friends to repeatedly go up to another, singled-out child every day, and took things from them regularly, then this could be classed as bullying behaviour. It is intentional, hurtful, and repetitive and there is a power imbalance because several children are picking on one child.  However, be careful not to label any child as a “bully”. Remember that we want to address the bullying behaviour not directly criticise who a child is, because if children are labelled as “bullies” or “naughty” early on, then it can hurt their self-esteem and progress.  

Bullying behaviours can be varied, but include: 

  • Physical – pushing, poking, kicking, hitting, biting, pinching  
  • Verbal – name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, threats, teasing, belittling 
  • Emotional – isolating others, tormenting, hiding books, threatening gestures, ridicule, humiliation, intimidating, excluding, manipulation and coercion 
  • Sexual – unwanted physical contact, inappropriate touching, abusive comments, homophobic abuse, exposure to inappropriate films  
  • Online/cyber – posting on social media, sharing photos, sending nasty text messages, social exclusion 
  • Indirect - can include the exploitation of individuals 

It is also important to remember that sometimes, bullying behaviours can be a communication from a child to let you know that something else is wrong with them, so you must always have your safeguarding hat on and consider that a child’s poor behaviour might be a warning sign that there are other things amiss in their life.  

Sometimes it can be difficult to get the balance right between informing students about bullying and keeping things age-appropriate, especially for younger children, so we’ve come up with some ideas for each day to help you mark Anti-Bullying Week this year in ways that are appropriate and positive for pre-school children.  

Monday 13th – Odd Socks Day 

Each year, Anti-Bullying Week kicks off with a bang with ‘Odds Socks Day’, when the nation is encouraged to put their best foot forward (clad in an odd sock) to launch the week. How about choosing another way to celebrate and extend the day by asking children and staff to bring in a spare, odd sock and sew or link them together to create one big chain-like bunting? You could hang them on a washing line outside to mark the start of the week for all to see or create a hanging mobile of odd socks inside your setting. Explain that we all have ‘odd socks’ and that they are all different, but together, they make up a colourful and attractive display. Explain that this is like life, everyone is different but together, we make life interesting, and we all are important and to be valued.  

Tuesday 14th – Kindness is key  

Use today to explain to children about the value of kindness. You can tell stories about people being kind and how that helps everyone. You can also remind the children that people who are being kind to one another do not call people nasty names. There are several stories you can use and a good list of books can be found on the “booksfortopics” website 

Wednesday 15th – Be a good friend  

Use today to remind children about how to be a good friend and how good it feels to have friends you can rely on.  Being a good friend means showing an interest in other people, sharing equipment, and taking turns nicely, as well as playing kindly with others and listening to other people’s ideas. It also means looking out for your friend in times of trouble. Read stories, and perhaps do some drama about how you could help people if they were upset or having a problem.  

Thursday 16th – Make a noise! 

This year’s theme is “Make a Noise About Bullying” so why not do some creative music-making to explain to the children that bullying is never OK and that if we all ‘make a noise’ about it, then it will be easier for adults to help put an end to it. You could make and create some percussion instruments and use them to explain, that making a noise can alert people if something is wrong. You could sing songs such as “London’s Burning” or songs which talk about asking for help if you need it.   

Friday 17th – Celebrate togetherness 

Today is all about celebrating together and sharing a fun time. You could organise an event or have a party to celebrate togetherness and friendship. Why not use your odd socks to make a glove puppet and put on a show? 

Remember that there are many resources on the ABA website and others such as Twinkl to help you celebrate Anti-Bullying Week. Let us know what your setting is doing by emailing your pictures and stories to hello@parenta.com.  If you or your child are troubled by bullying call the National Bullying Helpline on 0845 22 55 787. 

Resources and information 

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