Act Against Bullying

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Act Against Bullying (also known as AAB) is a national charity in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 2003 by Louise Burfitt-Dons. The charity's purpose is to help children who are bullied at school - by providing them with confidential advice - and to campaign to raise public awareness of the suffering of victims. The AAB website offers supportive messages and information on all forms of systematic bullying, in particular psychological bullying. The site also features advice on current forms of bullying such as exclusion bullying and cyberbullying.

History[edit]

In 2000 Louise Burfitt-Dons a playwright(born Louise Byres), published in 2001 a series of 40 anti-bullying monologues called Act Against Bullying for teachers to use in the classroom because her daughter had been bullied at school,[1] Burfitt-Dons was concerned that the current advice given to victims to simply report the abuse could lead to further abuse. The monologues accurately portrayed the insidiousness of the newer forms of bullying and gave people an insight into what they could do about something with which they had little solution. ‘I didn’t realise what I had started,’ said Burfitt-Dons. The voluntary organisation Act Against Bullying she formed in 2002 to be able to provide some practical advice about identification and resolution of the abuse.

The charity began issue advisory leaflets by which to, among others, profile and identify the subtle abuse to come from bullying by Exclusion to Cause Distress based on deliberate isolation from any community especially in the world of those ages of children/people that have the mental capacity to carry out abusive actions toward others but do not realize the long term impact of those actions. More importantly, the organization provided coping tips for teenage victims. The organisation began attracting funds and was registered with the Charity Commission in October 2003. The effectiveness for the charity has not been thwarted by its all volunteer staffed and has helped inestimable situations where children and their parents have worked alone through their anti-bullying experiences by reviewing the Act Against Bullying website.[2] AAB was shortlisted for The Guardian Charity Award 2008.

Ethos and affiliations[edit]

The ethos of the charity is deliberately motivational and upbeat and aims to eliminate young people suicides and homicides that results from bullying. It actively promotes the virtues of kindness as the antithesis of bullying actions. A two colour silicone wristband represents red for strength and white for peace. It was a core member of the UK's Anti-Bullying Alliance[3] until 2010.

Cool to be Kind campaign[edit]

Cool To Be Kind is the major campaign of the charity and started in 2001 as a round of school talks on bullying. The motto was ‘Don’t be Rude, Don’t Exclude, Don’t Push In, Don’t Hurt To Win, It’s Cool to be Kind’. The campaign has since 2005 been celebrated in November during Anti-Bullying Week.[3] To participate in this annual event, schools can download resources from the Act Against Bullying website, such as assembly notices and posters, AAB kindness certificates for presentations to reward anti-bullying behaviour.

CyberKind campaign[edit]

Cyber-bullying is a particularly offensive form of abuse since the source of the action can be anonymous and only with much difficulty identified. Encouraging and rewarding 'niceness on the net' is hoped to eliminate the idea as a valid activity.[4] It was launched at the House of Lords on Armistice Day 2009 by Baroness Hayman and Lord Grocott

Act Against Bullying Cup[edit]

The Act Against Bullying Polo Cup started in June 2005 at the Guards Polo Club as part of the semi-final of the high profile Queens Cup Tournament. Charity founder Louise Burfitt-Dons presented the Act Against Bullying cup to the Dubai Polo Team which included Adolfo Cambiaso again in 2006. In 2007 it went to the Ellerston White polo team.

Anti-bullying talks and campaigning[edit]

AAB Founder Louise Burfitt-Dons continues through speeches to raise the awareness of rising statistics of and varying forms of random acts of violence in society and its adverse effect on youth culture, female aggression, and trends like happy slapping. She was guest speaker at a House of Commons cyberbullying forum in June 2007 that was chaired by Shadow Minister for Children Tim Loughton.

The charity launched the poster campaign Grade Not Degrade in November 2006 and wrote to all TV channels and OFCOM calling for a reduction in gratuitous aggression in TV programmes and in the media believing it to be a fundamental and pervasive source of copycat bullying abuse and violence in schools and society.[5]

Public profile[edit]

Act Against Bullying has a high media presence which has not been without controversy owing to its glamorous profile. As well as a range of notable voluntary advisors including Hamish Brown MBE, UK’s leading authority on the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 [6] and ex-Fire Commissioner Brian Robinson, many celebrities have appeared in support of the charity at its fundraising events including Hayley Westenra and Duaine Ladejo. Big Brother participant Jade Goody became associated with public advocating activities after being brought as a guest to the Act Against Bullying Cup in 2005 in Windsor.

Disassociation of Goody from Act Against Bullying resulted in January 2007 after Goody’s alleged racist bullying behaviour towards fellow Celebrity Big Brother contestant Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty when the charity received a number of contacts from the public calling for Goody reference removal from the Act Against Bullying website. The charity removed a photograph of Goody and published a statement on their website and criticised the confrontational format of the Channel 4 show which gave the impression that Goody’s behavior was condoned.[6] The statement was posted on the Digital Spy Forum by a viewer including the allegation that Goody was the charity’s patron.

On 16 January 2007, the national media published the same story and Act Against Bullying' was inundated with angry and abusive emails. On the same day, charity founder Louise Burfitt-Dons featured on UK international media stations to refute the fact that Jade Goody was ever a spokesperson or officially linked with the organisation. She claimed that Goody had been brought along as a guest at a function where she had bid for polo lessons with Jack Kidd (see Jodie Kidd) who was a charity supporter.

Other celebrities attending that day were Nick Knowles and Julian Bennett. She made a further donation to Act Against Bullying in 2006 following Goody’s mother Jackiey Budden appearance in a homemaker TV show. Burfitt-Dons published a further statement expressing admiration for the way in which Shilpa Shetty had dealt with the bullying. Shilpa Shetty’s management contacted Act Against Bullying to offer Shilpa’s support for the charity in place of Jade.[7]

Other media personalities who have been linked with Act against Bullying are Jen Hunter who was publicly humiliated on a TV show over her height. Big Brother contestant Liza Jeynes contacted Act Against Bullying for support over her suicide attempts over cyberbullying. Act Against Bullying has a young following and Joseph McManners was photographed for them when he attended a function as well as Hugo Boss model Nicholas Joyce. They worked with Britain's Got Talent 2008 finalists martial arts duo Strike.

In 2008 Fashion Showcase Wales sponsored by L'Oreal was held in support of the charity at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff[8] in the 2011 Act Against Bullying 's campaign posters and messages featured in the The Inbetweeners Movie

References[edit]

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