Banter or bullying? Do young people in Hastings have a voice?

Published on by Lauren Kirkland (author)

Location(s): university University Centre Hastings, Havelock Road, Blacklands, college Sussex Coast College Hastings, Station Approach, Blacklands

phone (photo: Lauren Kirkland)

New Annual Bullying Survey figures from anti-bullying charity ‘Ditch The Label’, reported 45% of young people did not report bullying. 32% of which felt it would not be taken seriously, 32% were too embarrassed and 26% were scared of it getting worse. 

“It’s just banter”, a commonly used phrase we’ve all become accustomed to, whether that be on social media, your tuesday fix of Geordie Shore or everyday conversations.

From footballers using it to defend their ‘casual racism’, to politicians deflecting unparliamentary language as ‘commons banter’, this convenient term to cover ‘harmless fun’ isn’t just restricted to the classroom. 

The 300 year old expression has never been so popular. Social networking accounts have thrived on exhausting the limits of banter surrounding insults and jokes, leaving today’s generation with confusion in what is allowed and the victim battling if they have the right to be upset or whether it will even be taken seriously.

Head of Sussex Coast College’s Student Engagement programme Lydia Leonard explains “students definitely need to be lead. You get the students more keen to talk than others, but when things become sensitive to an individual, they are more reluctant.”

This kind of bullying is occurring universally, and 19 year old University of Brighton student Megan speaks of her experiences in the classroom. “Banter isn't just between pupils, my friends would talk to teachers cheekily and avoid detention with ‘it’s just banter sir’. Male teachers can take it better too”.

So, is this problematic style of conversation between those of authority and student being encouraged or prevented?

17 year old Sussex Coast College pupil Eloise Sears has made her daunting’ ITV news debut this week showcasing her campaign with the young people charity ‘Fixers’. Eloise says “when someone is being bullied, they sometimes fail to take action. Fixers, my team and I are working to ask others to speak out if they see someone suffering. It could mean reporting an incident to a teacher–for instance a sly comment being made or someone being shoved in the playground.”

Although when asked if enough is being done in the outside community, Carly from Hastings Youth Council stresses the work of Police with local kids, with frequent classes educating both parent and child on hate crime prevention and online harassment.

She continues, “it’s just getting the young people to them. Pupils like Eloise are inspiring to young people in Hastings, it’s extremely encouraging.”


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