Bullying: It's time for change

29 March 2018

Dear Friend,

I hate bullying. I will not tolerate bullying in my class. I don't and I won't because in our class we are a family. In our class we practice emotional literacy. In our class I never ignore a comment or an unkind word said, we talk through and we deal with all issues as and when they occur even if that means our Literacy lesson is shorter. Why? Because it matters.

I would say that most issues I encounter are simply power struggles  and that young children can have less tolerance for power imbalances. 'He's got all the lego. She isn't sharing.' But things that seem small to us as adults can be immense in the mind of a 6 year old and if we don't act can only grow and grow and... suddenly small problems can be seemingly insurmountable issues.




As a parent the word bullying scares me. As the parent of a child with special needs this troubles me more as I have seen the statistics around bullying (8/10 children with disabilities are bullied.) And as a parent living in an age of rapidly expanding technology the thought of my children being bullied in their own home, whilst sitting on our sofa is terrifying. Parent's are more aware of bullying than ever.

I can also speak as a 'victim' of bullying. I was bullied at primary school and for a while it made my life thoroughly miserable. I did not want to go to school, I did not know who to trust, I felt totally alone! One of the most difficult things for me was trying to understand why 'friends' became idle bystanders. It taught me not to follow the crowd and to be careful who you choose as a friend.

Bullying Policy


Over time I have seen changes in the approach to bullying in schools. Pre 70's bullying had largely been seen as 'character building'. In the Mid 70's Dan Olweus, a research professor of psychology, was the first to conduct an intensive study on bullying among students. He is often considered the pioneer in bullying research.

When I was bullied in Primary School, during the 80's we never talked about emotional intelligences and my head teacher certainly had no idea what to do. It was down to my parents to sort things out. 

When I qualified as a teacher we operated, 'Zero tolerance policies' (similar to those for drugs and sexual harassment) there were harsh consequences for those who bullied others in the 90's and noughties, predominantly exclusion or expulsion. But the definition of a bully gradually changed as we started to realise that bullies often brought their own insecurities, challenges, or backgrounds to the table or were reacting to being victims themselves. 

The most recent change and a really welcome one in my eyes is recognising the role of the bystanders in contributing to or solving bullying.  We now recognise that bystanders rarely play a completely neutral role in bullying. We need to prepare children to be helpful bystanders. 

I really like the work that the Diana Award Anti Bullying campaign are doing in training Anti-Bullying Ambassadors. The Anti-Bullying Ambassadors programme has trained over 24,000 young people across the UK to lead on anti-bullying campaigns in their schools.

In their role they help educate their peers on bullying, lead on anti-bullying campaigns, promote a culture which celebrates and tolerates difference and help keep their peers safe both online and offline. 


Do you know what the definition of a bully is?


I was first alerted to this back in November 2017. The Diana Award launched a campaign to change the dictionary definition of bullying during #antibullyingweek. When I read the definition, it shocked me.

Diana award
Google

Merriam Webster

Oxford Dictionaries


I am a victim of bullying but I would never consider myself weak! 

In my opinion (with over 20 years of experience as a teacher) it is the strong kids, the individuals, the out of the box thinkers, those who dare to just be themselves, who are bullied. I strongly believe that my bully chose me because I was a threat to her and that she wanted to keep her position on top of the social hierarchy at school, not because I was weak. I also know it takes a lot of strength to speak up against those who hold power! 

We appear to have come so far with regards to our thinking about bullying and our policies and treatment of those involved in bullying. However, the definition remains firmly behind the times. 

Is it time that we change the definition of bullying? 

I think so!



I asked some of my fellow bloggers who also happen to be teachers what they thought...

I honestly didn’t know the term “weak” was in there! ...as a teacher I see children that are unkind and children who take things to heart. I don’t believe that any child is born mean but they can learn bullying type behaviour to cope with the disappointments in their own lives. So a “bully” is a child in crisis just as much as the victim. Terrible as it is for the “victim”, both “bully” and “victim” need help. I purposefully put these terms in inverted commas as I would prefer to use the term child in both cases. I do more work with emotional literacy for my class of 6 year olds than maths. Empathy is the key to a successful life.
Weak is a stupid term... as it’s the “bully” who is often weaker....
- Sophie from Old House in the Shires

In my experience as a teacher those who bully have many issues. They often feel out of control and I think that bullying is either used as an outlet for their pain and hurt, as a method of control as they have no control over the issues in their own life or as a way to cry for help and try to gain attention when other things haven't worked. Sometimes the bullying behaviour is copied from their own experience of being a victim. When I was bullied as a child it was a way of the bully to keep her as the popular girl and belittle anyone she saw as a threat to take her 'popularity crown'. Her self esteem must have been really weak to resort to such behaviour.
The people who the bullies target are often people who don't surround themselves with the 'in crowd' because they don't need to. They are people who are independent, strong and unique and proud to be so. They also target others who have difficult lives and are already dealing with lots of their own issues and have isolated themselves because they are so busy with the thoughts in their head.
These so called victims (which is a word I don't like as it has images of weakness) are usually very strong but don't have the protection of a 'pack' of friends. Bullying can make you feel weak and you can question yourself but you are often strong as you have to have the courage to deal with it and keep on going. You have the strength to still be you and not conform to the social stereotypes that might be easier. You have the strength to tell someone and to make it stop. Sometimes people can't take it anymore. That still doesn't make them weak it just means that they were dealing with so much more than others.
Bystanders often play a key but far lesser known role. They can support a bully without intending too and they can make a victim feel lonely, isolated and weak. Bystanders must also be brave and stand up to protect those being bullied. Bystanders are usually the weaker members of the scenario for they often don't speak up to protect those being bullied.
- Laura fromAdventures with J

I have never really thought of the defnition of bully as precisely as this before. I have witnessed bullying in the workplace over the years and have had kids tell me about being bullied over the years too. I don't believe the bully is using their strength over someone who is weaker- influence maybe but it is too simplistic to pigeonhole people as strong and weak. Often the people picked on are particularly strong in a particular area and others are jealous of this. Often it's the insecurities of the bully that motivates them in my mind and that is weakness.
- Hayley from - Mission Mindfulness

Bullying is a really unhelpful word. It’s misused, under appreciated and people are way too quick to use it. I’m a secondary teacher and I have parents call me most weeks with this bad boy word in their vocab. 95% of the time it’s not - it’s just children (teens) working out social hierarchy’s and failing miserably. Sometimes it’s parents attaching their childhood traumas to their own kids, and rarely like your quote suggests it’s a bullying case that is about power and needs addressing - with adult intervention. I feel like if we used the word more appropriately we could deal with it more effectively. I also think this word isn’t exclusive to schools as I’ve certainly experienced it in the work place”
What My Fridge Says



What do you think? Is it time for change?

A huge thank you to all the lovely ladies who gave their fantastically well put opinions for this post.



#PointShoot week 49

27 March 2018

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 

You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.


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Week in Photos #25

26 March 2018


Dear Friend,

 Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

My word of the week is Spring. It may still be cold but I definitely have the feeling that Spring has arrived.

I welcomed in the Spring on Monday by decorating my Easter tree. Along with the tulips and daffodils it certainly made my house feel brighter.

We had the boys parents evenings at the beginning of the week too. It's great to hear that they are both working hard and making good progress.

On Wednesday afternoon we ate our first ice-cream of the season at our favourite place in Katwijk. Despite being on a healthy eating kick I couldn't resist a Stroopwafel flavour ice-cream. The boys certainly enjoyed theirs and little man remarked he wants to have one every day! 

Friday was my birthday. It started well as I was spoiled by hubby and the kids. I had to work but I was well looked after by my lovely colleagues and the kids at school.

My brother arrived Friday, in time to join the celebrations and we went to the Holland v England game at the Amsterdam Arena. There was a great atmosphere! 

I had a lovely weekend showing my brother around our favourite places, we went to Leiden, Katwijk (to our favourite fish restaurant) and Noordwijk for a beach walk. I just enjoyed us spending time together and watching my boys loving being with their uncle.

 Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!




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My Sunday Photo

25 March 2018

Sky above me, Earth below me, Fire within me!



This photo was taken at Katwijk. They clear the sand from the pathway and little man can never resist running across the huge mounds they make. 


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Why I'm not joining in this World Autism Awareness Week

22 March 2018

Dear Friend,

It is March, it is World Autism Awareness Week. Our Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and other social media accounts will no doubt be flooded with rainbows, jigsaws, blue or what ever symbol or colour they have chosen to use this year. But mine will not.

I don't feel the need to don my onesie for the day, or bake a load of cakes, or dye my hair red or whatever the latest stunt may be.

I am well aware that there are people who will argue that awareness is always good or that any publicity is good publicity?
Sorry, In my opinion, no!



Why I'm not joining in this World Autism Awareness Week

  • Shouldn't we care about what is happening to autistic people all year round? I object to the idea that we are on a conveyor belt of caring with one eye on what's coming round next week. 
  • Are the public suffering from awareness fatigue? Do we simply click the button and share the sentiment for the week/day across our social media then move onto the next topic of the week and forget about it?  But we did our bit, didn't we? Real change does not happen at the click of a button!
  • I hate it when people jump on the latest bandwagon (particularly z list celebrities)
  • Do you agree with a charities philosophy? We need to be careful whose pockets we are lining. I have a problem with some of the large autistic charities involved in organising these stunts. Did you know that Autism Speaks Seeks a cure for autism and spends most of its budget on research not direct care?
  • I believe 'stunts' like this whilst raising awareness do little to raise acceptance of autism. 70% of families still feel socially isolated and 50% don't want to go out because they are worried how people will react. (TMI Campaign Report)
  • Where is the diversity? Autism is a broad spectrum but some charities rely on the extreme cases because they are seeking to illicit sympathy and therefore raise more money for themselves. 
  • Where are the success stories? I want awareness that challenges, not reinforces, the stereotypes.  Where are the stories I want to show my son? The successful artists, actors, sportsmen, writers, etc
  • Where are the actually autistic people? I want to see autistic people advocating for themselves. I also find it worrying that many advocacy organisations fail to employ actually autistic people so they can be out of touch with what autistic people really want.

Instead, I will continue to

  • Challenge the stereotypes and raise awareness of the real issues that face autistic families on a day to day, year round basis.
  • Write about our experience honestly and in my own quiet way.
  • Champion changes that make a real difference to people with autism like; working with KLM cares on making flying more autism friendly, providing health passports for autistic people, more school places.
  • Keep myself informed about autism.
  • Love my son.
  • Fight for the support he needs.
  • Highlight the problems in the support system.


You could click and share on social media or you could:

  • Read a book or blog post to learn more about autism
  • Watch a TED talk. Like Steve Silberman's, The Forgotten History of Autism or Rosie King's, How Autism Freed me to be myself
  • Invite the mum of a child with autism for a drink
  • Be patient in queues
  • Invite an autistic child from class to a birthday party or to play
  • Ask a local business to run an autism friendly event
  • Don't stare at children having a melt down in the supermarket
  • Volunteer at your local autism cafe or centre
  • Talk to an autistic adult about what works for them
  • Embrace difference
  • Teach your children to embrace difference
  • Ask; How can I help?
  • Be kind!

What will you do?

This is a revised post!







#PointShoot week 48

20 March 2018

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 

You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.


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A photograph is the pause button of life.

We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. (so there is plenty of time to link up.)


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Week in Photos #24

19 March 2018


Dear Friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

My word of the week is self-care.

The beginning of the week was all about the housework but I also managed to grab some time for blogging. It was very productive as I got a few posts written that have been sitting as drafts for ages. Life has been a bit busy for writing at the moment and it was nice to get back into it and put my thoughts and feelings down in print.

I was really sad to hear that Professor Stephen Hawkins had died. I had the pleasure to meet him when I was student in York. He stayed at the hotel I worked in. He really was inspirational and had a great sense of humour.
We are all different. There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit. - Stephen Hawking
I wrestled with my mummy guilt this week as my big lad was not feeling 100% but I had to go to work. Luckily papa was able to finish early and take him to the Dr. But I hated walking out of the door and leaving him on the morning.

After a really busy week it was fabulous to be able to let it all go for the weekend. I went away for 2 nights with my friends. I promised myself I would practice more self-care this year and this weekend was just what I needed. The weather was freezing but we made the most of it and had a really good laugh.

 Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!







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Silent Sunday

18 March 2018

A Glimpse into our autism: Acceptance

16 March 2018


Dear Friend,

Yesterday you asked me why I blog.

I could hear the underlying mockery in your voice. The blogging world has been getting quite a lot of negative press lately. Whilst being a blogger isn't really something I shout too loudly about, I am proud of what I have achieved through this blog.

This month I heard another stereotype about autism, I read another news story about an autistic man being mishandled by police, I saw a report about a boy being removed from a flight, I read another blog post about a child being 'left out' of birthday celebrations...

It makes me sad...

Autism has become a hot topic over the last few years, seemingly never out of the news.

We have awareness months, Autism days, TV dramas with autism taking the lead, documentaries, benefits, concerts, even an Autism's got talent contest...

In 2015 the National Autistic Society carried out a YouGov poll and found that more than 99.5% of people in the UK had heard of autism.
A brilliant achievement!

It seems like everyone has heard of autism.



BUT...  In the same YouGov poll just 16% of autistic people and their families said that the public had a meaningful understanding of autism.

There is a massive contrast between awareness and understanding that shows us we still have a way to go in promoting acceptance.

I have realised that I can not assume that when people hear the word Autism they actually understand what it means...
  • Autism is very complex to describe (something I have also posted about here) and something my son explained much better than I ever could
  • Stereotypes are out there
  • How can anyone really know autism unless they have firsthand experience with it?
  • Autism is such a broad Spectrum that everyone's experiences are different
  • Autistic people are still expected to fit into our world or hide away from it

Yesterday you asked me why I blog.

I blog to challenge what people think they know about autism!

I blog because my voice is important and our story is unique!

I blog because Awareness without Understanding means that we remain an autism unfriendly world.


Thank you to all of you who have read, commented on and shared any of my Autism posts, you are helping to get the message out there. We really appreciate all of your support. 


A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore the impact autism has on our family on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same. 





#PointShoot week 47

13 March 2018

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 

You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.


This week's featured post comes from Many at My Real Fairy blog.



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A photograph is the pause button of life.

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Week in photos #23

12 March 2018


Dear Friend,

 Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

The word for the week has to be active. It has been a busy week for us all.

On Monday I had a study day at work so I spent most of Tuesday catching up on housework, shopping etc but I did manage to sneak in a Skype call with my friend.

On Wednesday afternoon Little Man had a party and so hubby. the big lad and I popped into Leiden. It was a lovely afternoon and I snapped quite a few pictures on our walk, although I'd left my camera at home so had to rely on my iPhone. I kept getting the feeling that I'd lost something because little man wasn't with us.

On Friday afternoon I had a mad dash home from work to pick the boys up out of school on time for another party but this time it was for my little Man. He had a swim party at Hotel van Oranje in Noordwijk. It was a huge success with party games in the pool, a wave machine and yummy food.

The weekend has flown by as always. We had a quiet day on Saturday apart from football (little man's team won 4-2) and ended with a family night watching Ant and Dec and the voice. On Sunday Little Man and Papa went to watch Ajax play and Oscar and I went to the cinema to watch Jumanji. It was lovely to have some 1-1 time with my big lad.


 Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!







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Silent Sunday

11 March 2018

One Moment in time with Mel from Life at Number Eleven

9 March 2018

Welcome to one moment in time, a guest posts series, where bloggers share the stories behind special or significant photographs. This week's featured blogger is a wonderful lady who I am proud to say is a part of the #pointshoot community. She always takes amazing shots that capture moments perfectly and writes so beautifully and warmly about her family. Mel from Life at Number Eleven. Thank you so much for joining me!



This photo says all you need to know about my son. He is just full of exuberance and high on life. His smile is infectious as is his laugh. Whenever he enters a room he brings smiles to those around him. I'm not just saying that because I'm his Mum. I've seen it. I'm constantly told it by family and strangers alike.

This photo was taken in Anglesey. My brother in law had just passed away so we took a last minute and much needed break. We don't live too far away from Anglesey but it felt like we were on the other side of the world. Whilst there we made the decision to pitch our caravan for the season so we drove around to check out a few sites. We had always talked about pitching the van, and Al's tragic death at the age of 47 made us adopt the motto - Stop planning your life, start living it!

We drove up to Rhosneigr and the sun came out so we took the opportunity to wander along the beach. We couldnt get Harry off it. He loved getting soaking wet so we let him. Despite not having a change of clothes with us or a towel. The tide was going out and the sand and sea was tickling between his toes. As I look at the photo I can clearly hear his laugh. I took the photo with tears rolling down my face. A mixture of relief (that the last few months were over), guilt (that I felt that way) and joy (to be living in the moment and sharing it with him). I am surprised it is in focus. I think H knew I needed cheering up and he made it his mission that day to do it. He definitely delivered. We hadn't laughed that much in months.

My final memory of the day was sharing a bag of chips and eating ice cream before heading back to the van. It really was a special day and the perfect antidote to what had been a difficult few months.

This photo now hangs as a large canvas above our stairs and serves as a reminder to enjoy every single day, seek the fun in the little things, and laugh. Really laugh.


Do you have a special photograph and story you would like to share? Then I would love to hear from you!




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#PointShoot week 46

6 March 2018

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 

You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.


This week's featured post comes from Glimmer of Hope.



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A photograph is the pause button of life.

We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. (so there is plenty of time to link up.)


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Week in Photos #22

5 March 2018


Dear Friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

The word (rather words) for this week have to be Happy Days. This last week has been filled with them. We started off with a trip to the UK to see my family. We spent Saturday watching the Mighty Boro play, had a birthday celebration for Little Man, I had High Tea with my bestie and went shopping with my mum. Dad is on the mend but definitely not back to himself yet! I was a little concerned about the weather forecast and we were really lucky to miss the snow chaos!

Back in Holland we had a joint celebration for Little Man and Opa's birthdays with all the family.

We finished off the week with another celebration. A surprise day out with our friends. And a family day on Sunday.

 Now over to my photo diary...












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