Faith & religion-based bullying behaviour_
The Diana Award defines bullying behaviour as
‘repeated, negative behaviour that is intended to make someone feel upset, uncomfortable and/ or unsafe’.
It becomes an issue of religious/faith-based bullying behaviour when the intention/motive behind the behaviour is because of the target’s religion or perceived religion.
What is Religion and Faith?
Religion is ‘the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, or a personal God or Gods’ (Oxford English Dictionary).
Faith is ‘the strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof’. (Oxford English Dictionary).
Types of Religions_
Religions are unique from each other in several ways, including their history, places of workshop, religious symbols and scared texts. The most popular religions within the UK are Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism (Office for National Statistics, 2016).
How to Tackle Faith/Religion-based bullying Behaviour _
Ensure everyone knows about The Equality Act 2010_
This piece of legislation identifies a religion or set of beliefs to be amongst the 9 protected characteristics. As a result, it is illegal to discriminate against someone’s actual or perceived religion or set of beliefs. Furthermore, everyone should be aware that bullying behaviour based on someone’s actual or perceived religion can be classed as a hate crime. You could research and then run an assembly or workshop about The Equality Act to ensure that you and your peers understand the importance of being an Upstander (not a bystander) to faith/religion-based bullying behaviour.
Stopping stereotypes of religions _
You may hear others make sweeping statements or generalisations about someone because of their religion or faith. It is important to not perpetuate any stereotype; this means you should not pass judgement or make a sweeping statement because of an individual’s religion or set of beliefs. It’s also important to be an Upstander (not a bystander) and challenge bullying behaviour when it takes place if you feel safe to do so.
Learning about other religions_
We live in a multi-faith society and it is good practice to educate yourself and your school community on different religions and practices. A lot have similar values and codes to live by including those of peace and kindness. You could display posters around school which showcase all the similarities between religions and celebrate your diverse school community.
An Inclusive School environment_
Under the law, schools should be a welcoming and inclusive environment. This means that you should always feel safe, comfortable and welcome in your school. If you do not, you should contact your teacher, headteacher, SENCO, pastoral lead or school governors within your local authority.
Top tips if you are experiencing bullying related to your religion/faith_
1. Tell someone. Whether the bullying behaviour is online and/or at school, reach out to someone in your support network; this should be someone who you trust, such as a close friend, family member or teacher. It could also be an Anti-Bullying Ambassador trained by The Diana Award. Bullying behaviour can make you feel isolated and alone but it is important to never suffer in silence. You can also use The Diana Award Crisis Messenger, which provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are a young person in crisis, you can text DA to 85258.
2. Stay safe. If you are ever fearful of faith/religion-based bullying behaviour in the playground or when walking home from school, tell a responsible adult. They may be able to put provisions in place to make you feel safe, for example a buddy to walk you home.
3. Gather evidence. Remember the 4 W’s: Who? What? Why? When? This means you should always write down who has been saying what to you, the date, time and location this has taken place and save/screenshot any messages received online.
4. Reach out to others. You can reach out to someone you trust or who is part of your community. Seek help from online communities by reporting or blocking people exhibiting bullying behaviour and seek help from the school senior management team, as they have a legal obligation to protect students from bullying behaviour. If ever in immediate danger, call 999.
5. Never blame yourself. Finally, remember that you bullying behaviour is never ok and that you have every right to practice your beliefs without fear.