A few weeks school inspector's from the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) released a report into bullying at school entitled No Place For Bullying.
As a child I was bullied and the three schools at secondary level I had different attitudes to how to tackle the problem ranging from its your fault for being bullied to a proactive style from staff with clear lines that were not to be passed and repercussions if transgressed.
In the report half claim to have been bullied or picked on, though inspectors could not delve deeper in classroom situations for fear singling out. And nobody will express surprise children pick on those who deviate from the accepted norm or have the latest branded sports goods and so on. The best schools it found combined their behaviour and anti-bullying policies, and were lead by example, pro-actively by the teaching staff.
Sadly it seems disabled children often ignored in anti bullying policies and words like spaz, mong still common. Again unsurprisingly children often reported picked on because of their sexuality or perceived sexuality gay, lez, batty man all mentioned. The modern evolution of "gay" to mean something crappy was also discussed.
What was interesting was how schools went about tackling this especially in areas where parts of the local community are less than sympathetic to the idea and inventively addressing non nuclear families (“mum Pat and mum Dawn” in the case of same sex parents).
The comments on transgender and non gender conforming seemed to have grabbed most of press headlines. "Schools are labelling children as young as four as 'transgender' simply because they want to dress up as the opposite sex," says the Daily Mail adding that the report "provoked disquiet". The Telegraph online ran a similar piece highlighting another example of the six year old boy who wore a pink tutu to school.
In a world where children are told at. too young an age what boys and girls should and shouldn't do its marvellous that he is not beaten down with all gender role bullshit. Though it's hard not to feel a sense of tut tutting in the article and while many do grow up not transitioning or further down the transgender spectrum, thats not an argument to say they should be forced onto the gender binary or will grow up binary.
Children can be wonderfully honest, they can also be total bastards. Schools can show the way and encourage acceptance of our rich and diverse world. Not just in weekly PSHE classes but throughout the entire school despite prejudice from parts of the community and media.