Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying tackled in new guidance for Church schools

Guidance for the Church of England’s 4,700 schools published today aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report makes 12 recommendations for schools including ensuring schools’ Christian ethos statements offer “an inclusive vision for education” where “every child should be revered and respected as members of a community where all are known and loved by God. ”

Clear anti-bullying policies should include HBT behaviours and language, policies on how to report incidences should be accessible, staff trained on recognising bullying, curriculum and collective worship should support the vision and the wider church ensure that schools are responding well to the guidance.

In the foreword of the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.

“Central to Christian theology is the truth that every single one of us is made in the image of God. Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God.

“This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.”

The advice is an update on Valuing All God’s Children, guidance published in 2014 which tackled homophobic behaviour. This update covers a wider range of negative behaviours, incorporates the relevant legal and inspection frameworks and reflects the Church’s Vision for Education, whose four elements of wisdom, hope, community and dignity form the theological basis of the guidance.

 

Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, Nigel Genders, said:

“Providing an education to our 1 million children that will enable them to live life in all its fullness is a big responsibility.

“This practical and thoughtful advice is packed with templates and a comprehensive selection of resources for schools, teachers, families and young people. I hope that it will make a difference to our school communities and individual pupils too.”

The report acknowledges that it is likely that not all will agree on issues to do with human sexuality, marriage or gender identity. It goes on to say that:

“However, there needs to be a faithful and loving commitment to remain in relationship with the other and honour the dignity of their humanity without ‘back turning’, dismissing the other person, or claiming superiority.” 

The full report can be found here.

Children’s & youth work links

Links from the world of children’s and youth ministry:

How do we help young people to pray?: Joel Goodlet has written a great blog on the need to stop sending out the invitation to ‘try prayer’ and find a way instead to encourage our young people to devote themselves to prayer.

Hugh Hefner Wrecked My Life. . . Sort Of. . .: Walt Mueller blogs on the cultural impact that Hugh Hefner had.

If you have not read the Nashville Statement, please don’t: Steve Holmes nails it, on how the Nashville Statement is framed to try to make us take sides, and the loudest responses have been similarly framed.

The Annual Bullying Survey 2017: the fifth and largest edition of our yearly benchmark of bullying in the United Kingdom. Ditch the Label, the anti-bullying charity, surveyed over 10,000 young people aged 12-20 in partnership with schools and colleges from across the country.

Regular Energy Drink Use by Young Adults May Hike Risk of Substance Abuse: A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers suggests young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks may be at risk for future substance use.

Helping the victims & perpetrators of girl bullying

Child psychologist and former teacher, Dr. Sam Littlemore, offered some advice in the recent ATL magazine on helping the victims and perpetrators of girl bullying.  Littlemore is the author of Girl Bullying: Do I Look Bothered?

Bullying is a problem across the gender divide, but while there are girls who bully physically, it is the way in which girl bullies scan for weakness in social status, and thus vulnerability to manipulation, that can prove particularly problematic to deal with. Because of a perceived lack of evidence, it can be denied by perpetrators; supported by a lack of witnesses willing to stand up; or dismissed as false allegations, a victim mentality or a friendship issue.

Here are some reactive intervention strategies.

  • With the perpetrator, use a timeline to track when the bullying behaviour happens. List the rewards she feels she gains when she uses power over someone and find a way to achieve them in a pro-social way instead. Indirect, psychological bullying is about redressing gains and rewards.
  • Discuss with her the idea of power, gain and control. Work with her to focus on the impact of her behaviour on others.  You could use familiar soap-opera scenarios as examples of bullying behaviour and behaviour change.
  • Spend a few weeks keeping the pack and perpetrator busy during free time. Engage them in social roles at school, but as individuals rather than as a group: the girls learn that there is a different way to build an identity and gain respect.
  • Staff members can support the victim by noting down any incidents, but don’t encourage the student to keep a record herself, or she could keep going over incidents again and again. A staff member can look after the record and talk incidents through with her.
  • Ask the victim to draw around her hand and write the name of a supportive member of staff on each finger. This shows that there is a team willing to help her. This intervention can also be used for the perpetrator, who needs a support team to help her change her behaviour.
  • Help the victim to regain confidence within another friendship group. Also help to give her a focus at school, especially in free time.
  • Encourage all bystanders to take the responsibility to integrate an isolated student.  They should involve her in their social activities and play an active role in reducing indirect bullying.

Help students learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships, but allow them to generate the definitions. This can empower them to make better choices in their friendships. Children learn to bully. Bystanders learn to stand by. They can also learn that bullying is normal behaviour if there is no intervention. No one person can socially isolate another; it takes a whole playground to join in and adults to turn a blind eye. It’s everybody’s responsibility to prevent this.

Whilst obviously focussed on an education setting, there is many ways these tips can be used in youth work settings.

Band of Brothers Suit Up to Protect Bullied Kid

boys-wear-suit-ties-against-bullying

Danny Keefe, a 6-year-old boy at the Mitchell Elementary School in Bridgewater, Massachussetts, is disabled because of a brain hemorrhage at birth and has a speech impediment problem.

Regardless, Danny is a cheerful – and dapper – water boy for his Bridgewater Badgers peewee football team. We say “dapper” because Danny always wear a suit and tie, as well as a fedora, to school.

The football team’s coach always remind the team that they’re a “Band of Brothers,” and that despite his disability, Danny is one of them and that they should treat him as an equal.

So, when the football team quarterback Tommy Cooney heard that Danny was getting bullied because of the way he speaks, he rallied the troop to do something: they arranged a “Danny Appreciation Day,” where every boy in the team came to school dressed up like Danny.

Children can be mean, but these kids are awesome! Watch the video clip below by WCVB Channel 5 Boston that will reaffirm your faith in humanity:

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