Though the Breck Foundation focuses on educating about online grooming, we are always keen to support initiatives in related fields. This month sees the return of anti-bullying week (16-20 November), an event organised by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. The week raises awareness of the issue of bullying among children, especially in schools. Children of all ages as well as parents are encouraged to get involved and take part in activities to help shine a light on this age-old problem, while helping to find new ways to resolve the issue.
Odd Socks Day on 16 November starts the week off – in this children are simply asked to wear odd socks to school to celebrate the idea of diversity and uniqueness. Many schools follow the suggestion to donate a pound on this day, all of which is donated to the campaign, but the main focus is to raise awareness and be fun for the children.
The alliance has a range of resources for schools to use during the week, which you can find here. If your school doesn’t already take part, why not bring it to their attention? As we always tell the children that we talk to, it is only by standing together that we can make a difference in protecting ourselves and our friends.
The children we talk to often ask us about the difference between grooming and bullying and whether they are linked. Clearly, both are terrible things to have experienced, but there are big differences between them and in how difficult they are to detect in the early stages. Being bullied always feels bad. Right from the beginning the victim is aware that something unpleasant is happening. With grooming however, in the early stages, it actually feels great.
Someone is trying very hard to win favour with you, to connect with you and make you like them. It could be through a series of compliments or gifts, but a groomer will try very hard to establish a strong, trusting relationship before they then begin manipulation. Essentially grooming is a trick, and tricks, as we know, can be hard to spot – think about the phishing scams, fake websites and bank account transfers that we hear about so regularly.
With the right education, children and adults can learn and understand the subtle (and not so subtle) signs of grooming and bullying – and that is the first step to fighting both the scourges. So please encourage your school to take part in the week, and wear your odd socks with pride!