Recommendations from the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation Inaugural Conference

The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation’s Inaugural Conference in November 2018 brought together academics, practitioners, charities, community organisations and policy-makers to share evidence and insight into what works in tackling bullying.

Delegates attending included charity workers, academics, human resource professionals, solicitors, senior managers, teachers and educators, counsellors, and individuals who work in pastoral care.

The aim of the day was to obtain a clear understanding of bullying in the UK in four key areas: Bullying in Sport, including homophobia and transphobia; Sexual Bullying; Mental Health and Disability Bullying, and Bullying in the Workplace; and through sharing experiences and fostering collaboration, to devise practicable actions.

With the agenda structured to facilitate networking, participants openly engaged, sharing their work and experiences and sparking collaboration for future joint work.

The day was full of thought-provoking critical discussion on how to combat bullying which resulted in the following recommendations.

Bullying in Sport, including homophobic and transphobic bullying, Recommendations

  • Governing body policies/rules/regulations need to be followed through.
  • More visible diversity – role models.
  • Governing bodies/relevant organisations need to push through a more positive, diverse and visible agenda to support participation and engagement.
  • Better/safer reporting mechanisms and encouragement to report abuse.
  • Increase the diversity in leadership/boardrooms.

Sexual Bullying Recommendations

  • We need a relationships and sex education curriculum that reflects young people’s reality and experiences of sexual violence and harassment, rooted in challenging inequality, promoting gender equality and principles of enthusiastic consent.
  • Accountability and responsibility needs to be placed with the person making choices to behave abusively to others.
  • Challenge the gender and social norms which reinforce and support inequality and violence against women and girls.
  • Embrace specialist/third-party provision of relationship and sex education for both students, teachers, staff for a whole school approach.
  • Instead of punishment, use the statutory Relationships and Sex Education to educate, protect and inspire children to positive and healthy relationships, backed up by a supportive and mature school culture.
  • Understand more about how the physical environment/institutions bring about bullying and look at alternatives.

Mental Health and Disability Bullying Recommendations

  • Abandon the labels ‘bully’ and ‘victim’ and instead talk about behaviours and impact and how we respond to behaviours.
  • Change the social environment/culture within which bullying takes place, putting the onus on bystanders.
  • Promote more positive attitudes and empathy towards SEND.
  • Breakdown stereotypes and show diversity within SEND.
  • Promote inclusive norms in schools and common school in group.
  • Need to ensure government policy states that mental health care is included in anti-bullying policies.
  • Make it clear that bullying a disabled person is a hate crime.
  • Research and application need to be joined up and targeted.

Bullying in the Workplace Recommendations

  • Informal processes should be employed before formal process are started. Humans make mistakes and need an opportunity to reflect on behaviours.
  • Organisations need to be receptive/prepared to change.
  • Better reporting of bullying incidents builds a long-term picture, and also shows escalation.
  • Empower bystanders to act effectively as a critical immediate bullying intervention.
  • More effective polices and processes within the NHS to address bullying and harassment.
  • Need mental health support for medical and nursing staff who are experiencing difficulties.
  • Employers should address bullying from an organisational perspective.
  • Look at the culture and the norms that keep bullying in organisations and determine how these dynamics can be replaced by healthier ones
  • The conversation should to be re-framed in terms of dignity, respect and fairness.
  • Consider the psychology of fairness (guilt, anger, shame) with individuals in conflict situations. One can’t reconcile shame.

More information on speakers and panellists who presented at the conference is available here.

Our next conference is on Monday 11th November 2019 in London. Please make sure to pencil the date in your diary. More information and an opportunity to purchase tickets will be available soon.

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