Celebrities join forces with anti-bullying charity The Diana Award for #BackToBullying campaign
[London, Monday 4th September 2023]: As over 10 million children make the return to school this week, new research from anti-bullying charity The Diana Award, reveals 65% of children are scared of going back because they have been bullied.
Alongside the research of over 2,000 UK parents and their children aged between 9-15 years old, Princess Diana’s legacy charity has released an emotive film with a shocking twist as part of its #BackToBullying campaign.
In contrast to cheery ‘back to school’ adverts featuring smiley children and new uniforms, there is a darker reality for millions of children returning to classrooms which is depicted in the new short film. 68% of the students polled responded that happy back to school adverts are not a true reflection of their own experiences.
The shocking data comes as half of the children polled said the thought of returning to school makes them anxious, while 33% said it made them want to cry. More than three quarters (77%) of young students say they have been bullied in the past, with 69% suffering from teasing or name calling.
Half of UK parents dread sending their children back to school because their child is regularly experiencing mental or physical bullying abuse. As many as a quarter (24%) of parents harbour genuine concerns that sending their child back to school may result in self-harm, whilst 15% worry about their child taking their own life.
Parental concerns are rife over their child’s safety as an overwhelming 89% believe that schools can be an unsafe environment for children. If the bullying continues, almost half (49%) said they are concerned about their child’s mental health being permanently damaged, whereas 41% are stressed it will affect their chances of happiness in the future.
And it’s not just parents who feel this as 42% of the students polled agree their school is not effective at stopping bullying. It has driven almost half (45%) of parents to consider changing schools due to the torment their children suffer. Over a quarter of parents (28%) have thought of homeschooling as an alternative and nearly one in five (18%) have considered simply not sending them back.
Despite the bullying crisis, reassuringly children feel they have support at home as almost three quarters (72%) feel comfortable enough to confide in their parents or carers if they were being bullied. Over half (54%) of parents say their child told them themselves that they were a victim to bullying.
Created by advertising agency Revolt, in partnership with Agile Films and directed by Lucy Bridger, the online film mimics the typically bright and happy style of back-to-school advertising while showing a young boy who gets tormented by bullies on his way into school.
Will Poulter, Anti-Bullying Ambassador, says:
“This #BackToBullying campaign from The Diana Award is an important reminder of ensuring school is a safe and happy place free from bullying. I know from my own experience and from seeing the work of the charity as an Ambassador, the difference young people and educators can make to shaping attitudes and changing behaviours. I urge schools and young people to get in touch with The Diana Award & help make a difference to the 10 million children going back to school.”
Alex Holmes, Deputy CEO of The Diana Award, says:
“While we are bombarded with ‘back-to-school’ adverts that depict happy, giggling young people returning to the classroom, these alarming #BackToBullying research results reveal a stark alternate reality for many young people who are frightened to go back to school. The Diana Award runs the UK’s largest bullying prevention programme, training and empowering young people to become Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.”
The charity’s #BackToBullying campaign includes an installation which stunned shoppers at Westfield Stratford, featuring child mannequins in new school uniforms posed in scenes of bullying, such as being punched or tripped up by other pupils. Sandro Farmhouse, finalist of the Great British Bake Off 2023, appeared at the startling display to engage members of the public with the cause.
The #BackToBullying campaign is also supported by partners of The Diana Award, stationery retailer Smiggle, and school uniform suppliers, Trutex.
John Cheston, Managing Director for Smiggle, says:
"Smiggle believes that being kind to others can really change the world, so that’s why we’re proud to partner with The Diana Award and their anti-bullying programmes to help raise awareness about the importance of choosing Kindness, and taking a stand against bullying.”
Rowena Allen, Marketing Manager at Trutex, says:
“Trutex is proud to partner The Diana Award, a charity legacy to Princess Diana's belief that young people have the power to change the world. Trutex with the Diana Award Anti-bullying initiative aims to empower young people to tackle bullying in their schools and communities and make them a safe, happy and bully-free place to be. Trutex are committed to helping reach more young people to benefit this programme and help build confidence in young people.”
To date, over 50,000 young people have been trained as Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in 5,000 schools throughout the UK by The Diana Award. This network of young people develops and shares the best practices and have been trained to provide ongoing peer support to their cohort. The programme, which has backing from England’s Department for Education, has received hundreds of positive endorsements in Ofsted school inspection reports on reducing bullying and increasing safety and wellbeing. The Diana Award offers their Anti-Bullying Ambassador training free of charge to schools across the UK. To sign up for training, advice and support visit diana-award.org.uk/anti-bullying-training
Show your support for children as they face #BackToBullying this year and for more information, anti-bullying resources and to donate, visit www.backtobullying.com
Further campaign assets can be viewed and downloaded here.
Sammy, 17yrs, Surrey
“I was bullied verbally by someone making nasty and hateful comments towards me almost every day. The bullying behaviour that I had to deal with was mainly in school, but I had some of these horrible messages coming through to me online on top of this. My mental health was affected really badly, and I became very isolated and upset. I began to blame myself and thought it was all my fault. It took me a long time and lots of nerves before I was able to speak up to my parents, who supported me in resolving the situation. We spoke to my school, who were able to resolve the situation quite quickly, without making me feel under pressure in any way.”
“I quickly realised that the bullying that I had been through was not my fault and realised the impact that it has on young people. This inspired me to become an Anti-Bullying Ambassador, it’s an incredibly rewarding role, and one of the best things I have done.”
Tamar, 17yrs, Manchester
“I experienced bullying in my early high school years where, as one of the only black girls, I was teased for my skin tone, and the fact I was on free school meals. Having older people stick up for me made me feel so incredible and I want to be that person for others. Despite adversity, I have not been held back. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I am on free school meals or the melanin in my skin; I’m proud to be where I am from and who I am and that’s something that I won’t let anyone take away from me.”
Quotes from students on back-to-school adverts:
“I think that this can seriously invalidate somebody’s experience…. Even though school isn’t always bad, back to school can be a source of mass anxiety and when you have to sit through an ad glorifying your fears, it can make it worse. So in short, I don’t like them.” – Nia, Youth Board Member, 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… If the adverts are for us, they should represent us and our feelings.” – Sukhmani, Youth Board Member, age 13
“The positivity is certainly nice but sometimes… it isn’t realistic, and kids can feel cheated out of a life that doesn’t represent them.” – Robyn, Youth Board Member, age 15
The Diana Award are privileged to be invited to the ‘My Life My Say’ Next Gen conference on the 25th November. We will join around 500 young people and a series of renowned speakers from the world of activism for an exciting day that will explore youth-led solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society.
Five young people share their thoughts and feelings about bullying in their own words, including one of our very own Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.
Due to the ongoing support of our incredible corporate partners, The Diana Award were able to expand our anti-bullying efforts across 2023. This Anti-Bullying Week, we wanted to spotlight a few partners, highlighting how they have helped The Diana Award stand up to bullying across the UK.