How we support our students overcome the long-term effects of bullying

Most of us who have experienced bullying, myself included, live with the effects long after it stops. We can find ourselves reliving these experiences many years later when our memories are triggered by something we see or hear and instantly we are transported right back to those terrible times. We can feel embarrassed and ashamed that somehow we were at fault.

Paul Newman, Group Executive Director - FacultiesThese adverse or traumatic experiences (ACEs) if left unchecked or countered with positive experiences can have a profound effect on our emotions and our behaviours that can impact negatively on our lives in the long term.

Research tells us that people and in particular young people, who are exposed to frequent traumatic or adverse experiences can be more at risk of a poor life when they reach adulthood. Seemingly unrelated issues such a obesity, physical inactivity or diabetes are twice as likely to happen. Smoking and all the health-related problems are three times more likely. Mental health and alcohol issues and sexual risk taking are four times more likely. And violent behaviour and drug problems are seven times more likely to be experienced.

These are the extreme implications to be fair but some people who have experienced bullying can have low confidence and self-esteem and can take time making friends in new situations like starting at college. It can make us fearful to speak in class in case we get things wrong and get laughed at.

The first thing to recognise is that these feelings are perfectly normal, and our challenge is how we deal with them and not let them control or dictate our future.

How we respond

That’s why at Activate Learning, we are becoming Trauma Informed. Our aim is for all of us is to understand how traumatic and adverse experiences can affect our emotions and how these emotions can shut down our brain and our ability to learn anything new. Sometimes we see students who tell us they can’t do something without even trying, their fears are so great. They would rather not try than experience failure again.

But we know you can achieve anything if you try hard enough and have some help along the way. That is what our Learning Philosophy is all about. We know that if we can help you work on your emotions, you can unlock almost unlimited potential. We do this by focussing on building positive relationships right from the start, with your teachers and each other in your class. Good relationships provide the building blocks for great learning.

We know that if you can understand your emotions, that leaves your brain ready to learn new things. How our brains learn is quite simply, by getting things wrong and learning from mistakes. Yes, it really is okay to get things wrong, as long as we are curious enough to want to know why. Also, we learn by practising. The more we do something, the more we develop muscle memory and create new networks in our brain.

Finally, there has to be a purpose to what we are doing to give us the drive or motivation to keep trying and overcome the times when we get it wrong. What motivates us can be different for us all. Personal achievement, helping others, earning potential, and many other reasons.

That’s why coming to college offers a fresh start, where you are treated with respect and encouraged to build confidence and resilience by our teachers, coaches and all our staff.

At Activate Learning, we are all on your side and will push you to be the best version of you now and in future.

Now it’s time to show them!