Unfortunately the bullying is still a strong presence in the schools in UK. According to Ditch the Label, the Annual Bullying Survey 2016, 25% of all young people sampled have been bullied within the past year.
Conventionally, the school toilets are a very popular territory for the bully, as even strategically placed CCTV cameras are not favored by parents, so to manage those areas is still a challenge.
How can schools improve safety in the toilet areas and reduce bullying?
According to surveys, more than a third secondary school children (36%) said their toilets were never clean and 24% of all secondary school children say the toilets were so disgusting they’d rather not enter them if possible. Similarly, research by the ERIC (Education & Resources for Improving Childhood Incontinence) campaign found that 25% of children in England are avoiding using the toilets because they are ‘dirty, old and smelly’.
Anthony Dunham, Consultant at Focus Washrooms, comments: “If the toilets are easy to keep clean with an open circulation space, the nice environment will contribute to reducing the bullying in those areas. Bullies don’t like carefully designed washrooms!”
Anthony continues: “Specifiers and Head Teachers are increasingly asking for ‘increased privacy’ cubicles, this may range from smaller floor gaps & higher cubicles to complete privacy with not even a gap for big enough for a mobile phone, but each school will have different requirements.”
What else can schools do?
Unscheduled Cleaning Rotas: avoid routine cleaning rotas, and increase the awareness of offenders being caught!
Refurbishment and Maintenance: It’s true that a washroom that is specifically designed for their needs appeals to children and makes them feel comfortable and encourages hygiene and care. Mostly, schools report that new washrooms are treated with respect by the students.
Get the pupils involved: An education program combined with good communication prevents bullying and vandalism and also improves the communication between pupils and adults/authorities. Young people spend most of their day at school and much of their sense of ethics, even if acquired at home, is mostly expressed in the school environment. Educators know how important it is to always being attentive to children and providing opportunities to put good principles into practice, such as a sense of belonging, caring and respect for friends, teachers and their school. After all, the school is a community heritage, and when the young people help take care of that, they have acquired a habit for a lifetime.
Involving young people in group activities such as planting trees, caring for the school garden, recycling or participating in charitable projects to help create a sense of altruism, is fundamental to their learning process. Taking care of the others and the school will promote wellbeing and the appropriate environment to learn, reducing violence and therefore the bullying.