Even in this modern age of acceptance and individual expression, bullying is, unfortunately, still a problem that society has to deal with relatively frequently. Often stemming from the personal struggles of the bully themselves, studies have shown that 40% of young people experienced acts of bullying in the last 12 months (www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk), with 6% experiencing it daily, and 9% experiencing it weekly or monthly. It is a problem that holds prevalence within our current social climate, and one that requires careful attention to remove from schools and workplaces.

Bullying accounts for more mental health problems than one might assume too; about 20% of those bullied as young people go on to experience mental health disorders to such an extent that medical intervention is necessary in their future lives (JAMA Psychiatry Journal). With International Men’s Day, a day designed to explore the role of ‘masculinity’ in culture, on Thursday this week, it seems poignant to explore also the role of toxic masculinity in bullying in schools, and the development that educators seek to follow in preventing bullying between young people. Bullying is never one-sided, and it is equally vital to look deeper at the troubles of the perpetrator and offer help as it is aiding those who are bullied.

At Taunton School International, one thing is for certain, we do not stand for bullying. It is so deeply engrained in what it is to be a student at the school that being in breach of this goes against what TSI, and indeed Taunton School as a whole, represents. The staff, both academic and pastoral, work hard to maintain healthy student relationships, especially in an environment where numerous nations, cultures and faiths come under one roof. Ensuring the students feel able to approach staff, or indeed each other, encourages a groundswell of support and positivity, allowing for healthy relationships to flourish.

From 16th to 22nd November we at TSI celebrated National Anti-Bullying Week, with a number of activities put on by our Graduate Resident Assistants to help enforce and celebrate our stand against bullying. Throughout the week, the students and staff were encouraged to partake in Random Acts of Kindness, be it holding a door open for someone, buying a chocolate bar for someone, or giving someone a nice tea to take a break with. The Foxcombe site also left messages of encouragement with each other, giving people a small pick me up and supporting one another. At the weekend, the GRAs also created a piece of art, a mural, against bullying. Having painted a tree trunk, the students all painted their hands and made hand prints to make up the body of the tree. Accompanying the tree was the text ‘Lending a hand against bullying’. This piece will soon find a permanent home somewhere on the Foxcombe site.

It has been a pleasure to see how together the students and staff stand against bullying, and how positively everyone reacts to simple kindness around the Foxcombe campus. Benefitting from random acts of kindness, or simply being aware they happen, gave everyone a moment to smile, and a reminder that we all, wherever we are from, whatever we believe, stand together for Anti-Bullying.