Although no one knew it at the time, the bullying victim at Downe House in Berkshire would one day marry a prince. Revelations by Kate Middleton that she suffered childhood bullying—and the recent announcement that anti-bullying group BeatBullying is an official Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund charity—have thrust the issue into the international spotlight.
While many support organizations focus locally, Middleton’s story and the royal couple’s work in the field have shown that bullying is an international problem.
BeatBullying reports that bullying is a significant issue in the U.K., with recent statistics showing that 69 percent of children there have reported being bullied, 20 percent have reported bullying others and 85 percent have witnessed bullying. Those statistics are comparable to those in the U.S.
Tom Dudley, spokesperson for BeatBullying, said the group’s inclusion in the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund is a welcome surprise. “We were very surprised but also delighted to be working with the Charitable Gift Fund and greatly appreciate His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton’s kind acknowledgement of our charity and the work we strive to do,” Dudley said.
The Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund has been set up for people around the world to make donations in lieu of buying wedding gifts for the royal couple. Only a handful of charities were selected by the couple.
Unlike the U.S. and other countries, the U.K. has few bullying-specific laws on the books. Dudley said this hurts schools’ ability to thwart bullying.
“Most schools do their best but in many cases their hands are tied and their intervention is limited,” Dudley said. “It is up to us to help them and work with them to stop bullying in schools. BeatBullying has long been campaigning for the introduction of a Schools Safety Bill and a Cyber-Bullying Act, which would make it explicitly against the law to bully or harass a child, young person and adult in and around school or online.”
In addition to lobbying for legislation, BeatBullying has also created programs to help victims in the schools. One such program is CyberMentors.
“Just over two years ago we launched CyberMentors, a program all about kids helping kids online,” Dudley said. “Young people have the ability to guide and support each other, and this program helps to empower them to do just that.