The Problem of Hidden Bullying

Schools take their responsibilities towards the students in their care very seriously and most have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying. This approach can prevent visible but often not invisible behaviours. Teachers rarely have access to the world of student relationships outside of the formal setting of the classroom. This includes time spent during school lunch breaks, unsupervised time between classes, travel to and from school, sporting and leisure events outside of school and time spent on social media. Bullying is typically hidden in the peer group. Bullied students are not able to defend themselves and they are frequently unable to tell.

The Growing up in Ireland  (2009) survey found that only 23% of 9-year old’s who were bullied told their parents. A figure of 15% has been found for older students (Card & Hodges, 2008). When students do report, the investigations are post-facto in nature and attempt to resolve bullying that has already escalated. Many anti-bullying interventions deal with the 15% who report. The Helping Hands Programme is about giving teachers access to the world of the silent and often unnoticed 85%.

Helping Hands is an award winning programme.

It has been developed through rigorous research and is based on international best practice and leading thinking

• It provides cutting edge knowledge, skills and an easy to use diagnostic tool to help teachers access relationship dynamics hidden in the peer group 

• Vulnerable students can be identified before problems escalate or complaints are made. This allows measures to assist them to be put in place

• The programme combines online professional development with access to the software instrument for school leaders and teachers

• This new approach means that vulnerable students can be identified before problems escalate or complaints are made, permitting appropriate supports to be put in place

• The focus is on empowerment of the victims and keeping them psychologically safe

• Recognising that resolving bullying is a process and not an event, teachers are equipped with knowledge and skills to identify targeted students and support them through the process of empowerment

• Our training is supported by best in class software. The software can be used to assign students to classwork teams, ensuring that all students are included and are in teams where they feel wanted and welcome

Teachers can use this new knowledge to:

• Prevent bullying

• Intervene early before bullying becomes entrenched

• Develop classroom teams that are welcoming to all

• Build support networks around vulnerable students

• Create conditions that make it safe for students to tell

• Help empower students who are victimised

• Ensure that students who engage in bullying behaviour learn to have appropriate levels of power 

The distress experienced by bullied students can negatively affect their health, school attendance, educational performance, and have an ongoing negative impact on their lives into the future.

 Most bullying is invisible to school staff and parents. Up to 85% of bullying victims do not tell anyone what is happening to them.

 Current approaches to tackling bullying rely on reporting and investigating. They depend on solid proof of bullying that has already taken place. They are overly focused on the – already powerful – person who has bullied, rather than the – already disempowered – target of the bullying. 

If we truly wish to ensure the well-being of all students and make schools inclusive and psychologically safe places for everyone, we need a new approach to tackling the problem. The Helping Hands Programme provides such an approach

The software instrument can also be employed for School Self-Evaluation (SSE). it can yield high quality data with minimum teacher input required in design and implementation