Anti-Bullying Week 2023

16th November, 2023

Former Headteacher and Enjoy Tutor Giles shares his advice and letters for those affected by bullying.

A child’s journey through school, and in particular, their intellectual and personal growth, play a critical role in shaping their future. The habits they establish in their formative years will, to a great extent, be carried with them throughout their life and well into adulthood.

There is much written about the impact of bullying on children’s mental health and the danger that this poses to them. Children experience bullying in a variety of ways and its impact can leave them, in their own words, feeling: weak, vulnerable, alone, friendless, confused, angry, helpless or even guilty.

This blog is in fact a series of letters to those impacted by bullying, whether directly or indirectly. These 3 letters are written to the bullied, to those accused of bullying and finally to those who see it happen.

My experience in education and counselling have taught me that our most powerful interactions with children often come when we listen to them rather than when we talk to them. The power of asking the right question and allowing children the time to reflect on these can help them to see life from a different and more secure perspective. Hence, these letters pose questions rather than answers.

Let us be clear about one thing: bullying, like any system, needs to be fed and it feeds on a culture of insecurity.

During my time as a school inspector, I was fortunate to visit many wonderful schools that exuded a culture of compassion and security: it was hard to imagine a culture of bullying taking root in their walls. This culture did not come just from the Headteacher and their staff: it was also evident in the students themselves. They were the guardians of this culture and it was they who saw and appreciated the part that this played in their learning and growth.

To those who are bullied:

Hey there, friend.

I can imagine that being bullied might be really, really hard for you. Children just like you can experience being bullied in many different ways. Some may feel alone or weak, while others may feel frightened, confused, angry, frustrated or like no one who will listen. I wonder if there might be a different way that you can look at your situation?

Feeling weak and alone is not a helpful place for you to be as it is easy to feel that others are against you. But might this be your opportunity?…Yes, that is exactly what I mean….YOUR opportunity?

Might this be your chance to start a culture in your school where everyone feels safe and no one has to be left feeling like you do?

Is it likely that there are others in your school who feel just like you?

Let’s think about this for a minute. Why would anyone who is truly happy want to be unkind to another person? How do you think the person who is being unkind to you is feeling at the moment? Might they also be feeling alone or unhappy?

Thinking like this might help you not to feel alone or like the only one who is suffering. Might this help you to change from feeling like the victim of your situation into one of those who is fighting for the ‘good’ of your school.

It is understandable that you may feel like a ‘snitch’ if you tell on the bully. But maybe instead, you are helping them get the help they might need. It may not be your ‘weakness’ that is snitching on them, but your care and courage that will, in the end, help them, help you and, importantly, help others.

Good luck to you in the days and weeks ahead. Just remember, you are not alone and you are not fighting just for yourself. You may actually be someone else’s saviour.

Yours faithfully,


To ‘The Bully’:

Hey there, friend. The fact that are reading this letter suggests that you may have been accused of being, or even think of yourself as the bully. The fact that you are reading this is an act of courage and something that is potentially very positive.

Maybe it is worth hitting the ‘pause’ button and thinking — what is really going on? What is driving you to act this way? It is a brave thing to ask yourself these questions and to search patiently and honestly for answers that may be hidden inside you.

Perhaps doing this on your own is too hard and you would like to talk to someone who can help: a teacher or another adult maybe?

If you could talk to someone you trust about what is really bothering you, what would you say? Finding the real answers might take an awful lot of courage.

Good luck in the days and weeks ahead. There are a lot of people relying on you.

Yours faithfully,


The Spectator:

The philosopher John Stuart Mill once said “all it takes for evil to grow, is for good people to do nothing”

Everyone one of you is a leader in your school: whether you have a special title or not: you all lead, every moment of the day. Leaders influence others and the things YOU do, do just that…they influence. The way you talk to each other, the way you help each other in lessons, your decision not to laugh when someone makes a mistake in class…these actions, and more, influence those around you.

Your decision not to step in when you see bullying does the same…quietly, your actions are saying “that’s okay”…when you know that it is not.

I was watching Planet Earth III recently and there was a wonderful scene where a group of seals chased off a great white shark. (click to watch here). The seals grouped together and herded the shark away from their group. I thought to myself, what must it have felt like to be the first seal to approach the shark…? But what that seal did was give every other seal the confidence to join in their defence. What a culture of bullying needs is for a small group of you to stand up and say “no”! I can promise you that others will join you…but it will be you who led the charge….you who showed how to lead.

Good luck in the days and weeks ahead. The change that makes the real difference could be in your hands.

Yours faithfully,


The fight against bullying is not won by just one person — it is a collective effort that needs everyone to be involved and to care because, in the end, everyone benefits.


Affected by any of the issues in this article? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice, or visit the brilliant Anti-Bullying website for resources and support. If you are a young person struggling with bullying, you can also reach out to Childline for confidential support.

Giles is a former Headteacher and experienced educator. He supports Enjoy students across a variety of subjects, including entrance exams, Music, Maths, Science, History and Latin at a Primary level. Get in touch with our team to book in a session with Giles or to learn more.