Using technology to counter bullying in schools

Bullying in all its forms is present at all levels of the educational system in the United Kingdom. Many schools claim to “take bullying very seriously”, and yet often fail to take the essential steps to get on top of the situation. With the right technology and associated training, students, parents, teachers, and staff can address or even prevent bullying in their school.

The statistics related to bullying in British schools are concerning. There were 21,060 temporary exclusions for bullying in English schools 2018/19. A quarter of all young people in the United Kingdom have been victims of bullying over the past twelve months, with 77% of those who were bullied claiming that it negatively impacted their mental health and led to suicidal thoughts.

Other statistics reveal:

Nearly half (47%) of bullying victims believe that they were bullied due to their physical appearance.

72% of bullying victims experienced a moderate to extreme negative impact on their confidence.

7% of students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

Warning signs of bullying include unexplained injuries, damaged clothing and personal items, truancy, bad grades, and poor self-esteem. Children who are bullied often develop signs of depression and anxiety. Some students may become violent or drop out of school altogether.

Teachers can be deeply affected by bullying incidents, even if not directly involved. They can become professionally disenchanted with the particular school they are assigned to. Some may leave the teaching profession altogether.

Schools in the United Kingdom have a legal duty to prevent bullying and keep children safe. Schools must also prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The first step is to develop a policy to tackle the issue, and to communicate this to teachers, pupils and parents.

The plan must be further developed into action points and specific tasks to enable school administrators to keep on top of the problem. The key is to respond quickly, as research shows that rapid response is the most effective way of countering bullying incidents and preventing a bullying culture from developing. If the individuals who carry out bullying know that they are being monitored they are less likely to do it.

Bullying typically occurs at break times, lunchtime, and between classes. These are times when students are moving around, and despite all good intentions it is often difficult for staff to monitor what is happening with every child. It is also difficult for staff to keep an eye on all parts of a large school campus.

Technology can be utilised by schools to help in three specific areas: access control, CCTV monitoring, and emergency alerting.

Access control

In recent years the necessity of protecting and controlling the different parts of a school campus has become increasingly apparent. An access management system can be used to manage visitors to the school, as well as control the movement of students around the site. Because most systems are managed from a central point, checking identity and ensuring the right people are in the right places at the right times becomes very straightforward.

CCTV monitoring

The majority of schools in the United Kingdom now have CCTV cameras installed, but the quality is extremely varied. Camera models can be old-fashioned, camera locations are often poorly designed, reports can be difficult to generate and in some cases are non-existent. Monitoring tends to be carried out in-house, with mixed results in terms of effectiveness.

Best practice reveals that CCTV systems perform most effectively when smart cameras are installed, able to automatically use facial and behaviour recognition to alert administrators of potential problems. Central data storage allows reports on problem locations, attendance anomalies, and tracking of individuals throughout a campus site. Use of a third-party monitoring centre, with professional monitoring staff trained in safeguarding, allows continuous supervision with no interruptions or downtime.

A professionally monitored CCTV system can keep an eye on every student in every situation and report on their behaviour easily and transparently.

Emergency alerting

By simply pressing a panic button on a user’s device, and using GPS to identify a user’s location, alerts can be generated for emergency situations. This allows a rapid response by administrators and security, as well as enabling the most appropriate member of staff to get to a location quickly (for instance, those qualified in first aid; or the mentor of a particular student).

Security technology for schools and colleges is a field that is experiencing rapid change. Perhaps GBSG can help with the security of your school? Call us on 01775 821100 to arrange a no-obligation discussion.

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