September 7, 2023


By Jamilah Simpson, Marketing Executive at The Diana Award

Around 10 million children go back to school this week, yet new research reveals that 65% of them are scared to make this return because of bullying. We are on a mission to ensure no child goes #BackToBullying.

To back up this campaign, we asked our Anti-Bullying Youth Board members how they felt going back to school and their thoughts on the traditional back-to-school adverts, portraying this transition as one of excitement and joy. But is this really the reality?

Still captured from #BackToBullying campaign film

To help answer this question, we asked some of our new Anti-Bullying Youth Board members a few questions about how they are feeling going back to school and if they had any advice to give to a young person who is anxious about going back to school. Here’s what they had to say.  

How do you feel about going back to school?

Honestly, I feel nervous. Everybody tells you not to be worried when the start of school rolls around, that it’s a new year and a fresh start. In all fairness that can be the reason why. A new year signifies unknowable problems, new tasks, new tests- especially going into KS4, and it can be difficult to deal with. I’m trying to deal with it in the healthiest way possible, but I still feel nervous at the thought of it.

– Nia, age 14

I actually feel really nervous about going back to school, I’ll be going into year 11 and though I’ve already done a year of GCSEs and prep, this is THE year where it all goes down and all the tests are going to go forward to change my life. But I also am quite relieved, because it’s the final year where I have to do anything like this. The start of the year will happen but once you’ve adjusted in you will blink and it’ll all be over! 

- Robyn, age 15

What advice would you give a young person who’s feeling anxious about going back to school because of being bullied?

The advice I would give to a young person is to surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and make you be your best self. Also, I would advise that they know adults and people they can go to if it does happen. To help with the feeling I would suggest that they find ways to let their feelings out so they are not bottling up how they are feeling.

- Ella, age 13  

The advice I would give is to go to school but make sure you know who you can tell e.g. teachers or your Anti Bullying team. Just remember someone is always there for you.  

– Victoria, age 15

Talk to someone who you feel is a very trustworthy person in your life prior to going back to school because often times talking to someone about your concerns can relieve pressure off your shoulders.

– Sukhmani, age 13

It can be scary standing up for yourself, or even going to tell someone that this is happening to you - but don’t be. In the long run, telling someone makes everything easier. They can help you work through it, and make sure no-one else is the victim of the same bullying behaviour.

– Nia, age 14

To help raise awareness of what going back to school is like for millions of children, we created a #BackToBullying campaign film that provided a fresh perspective on the happy and joyful back to school adverts by revealing a shocking twist in the narrative. Watch our #BackToBullying video below!  

To help promote this campaign, we also worked with the Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford to produce an installationthat stunned shoppers going about their day. With the generous support of Trutex, we dressed a number of child mannequins in new school uniform posed in scenes of physical bullying. See below!

Installation of our #BackToBullying display at Westfield Stratford

We asked our Youth Board members what they thought about the fact that Back to School adverts always portray the experience as positive. Here’s what they had to say:

My opinion on back-to-school adverts always being portrayed at something positive is that it certainly is very deceiving. It shows that kids and teenagers are excited to go back to school. Going back to school is scary, even if you've been going for many years, and its stressful. I believe that adverts should have more honesty and less misleading information being portrayed.

Karolina, age 14

I think that this can seriously invalidate somebody’s experience. These adverts are almost always done by brands representing an idealistic version of reality.

– Nia, age 14

I am aware that many students are afraid to go back to school as the adverts about going back to school are often misleading. Many students experience bullying at school.

Martin, age 14

I don’t believe back to school adverts should all be portrayed in a positive manner, because that isn’t the case for many young people, as it doesn’t represent, relate and is most definitely not the reality of how young people across the country fee! If the adverts are for us they should, most definitely represent us and our feelings!

Sukhmani, age 13

Still captured from #BackToBullying campaign film

Our #BackToBullying campaign was created by advertising agency Revolt, in partnership with Agile Films and directed by Lucy Bridger. Also supported by partners of The Diana Award, stationery retailer Smiggle, and school uniform suppliers, Trutex.

Show your support for children as they go #BackToBullying this year! For more information, anti-bullying resources and to donate, visit www.backtobullying.com

Are you a young person in need of further support? Head to our blog below to hear more advice from our trained Anti-Bullying Team!

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