Appearance one of pupils’ biggest worry at start of new school year

betty for schools calls for period education to start earlier in the UK

Two in three (69%) young people are worried about parts of their appearance as they are going back to school this week, including their skin, body shape and being overweight, new figures from the Be Real Campaign for body confidence have revealed.

Be Real, which was founded by youth charity YMCA and Dove, surveyed more than 1,000 young people across the UK, with one in four (26%) saying that the way they look is one of their biggest worries at the start of the new school year.

The figures also highlighted how the early start of body image anxieties increase into adulthood. While ‘only’ 20% of young people aged 11 to 12 years old worry about their appearance, concerns peak at a time when they are already facing extreme pressures from GCSEs with 32% of 15 to 16 year olds saying their looks were one of their main concerns when going back to school.

The campaign has released a toolkit to help teachers and pupils discuss the issues.

Alexandra Dutch, Teacher at Chobham Academy in East London, said: "The toolkit is an amazing resource that we used successfully with Year 8 students last year and we are now planning on rolling it out across the school this academic year.

“Body confidence is such an important issue and it's becoming more and more apparent that we need to start tackling this from a young age in schools. Students who took part in the sessions grew in confidence and were able to discuss their feelings and opinions clearly. They were surprised to see that what they see in the media isn't always real - everyone is different and it's important for them to feel confident in their own bodies."

Schools can download the toolkit free at

betty for schools, the curriculum linked education programme which encourages open and honest conversations amongst 8 – 12- year olds about periods, is calling on schools and teachers in the UK to rethink their approach to period education and begin teaching girls and boys at an earlier age. According to research

conducted with schools during the last academic year, levels of anxiety around periods are worryingly high among girls who haven’t started their periods – 54% of pre-pubescent girls report feeling scared or worried about periods, and 45% don’t yet feel period ready.

While ensuring that those who haven’t yet reached puberty have access to information is essential, the research also suggests that older students who received the betty for schools programme also felt significant benefits. More than half (55%) of students felt more comfortable talking about periods and 86% had a better understanding around the subject. Boys also benefitted, with two thirds (66%) gaining enhanced levels of empathy. Teachers were extremely supportive of the programme, with primary school teachers rating the resources most highly. Jade Dalrymple, former teacher at The Pines school in Berkshire where the betty bus visited in June said: “Using the betty for schools programme has been amazing for us. The bus visit has completely changed our girls’ understanding around periods - they filed onto the bus looking a bit embarrassed and uneasy, but left full of knowledge and confidence and an interest in talking about periods! It’s fantastic to see them so empowered and leaving behind the shame that can surround these conversations.”

For more information about the betty for schools programme or to download resources/request a free bus visit, please visit

Schoolchildren are more likely to intervene in online bullying

Secondary school pupils are more likely to intervene in instances of cyberbullying than traditional bullying.

That is the key finding of research presented at the British Psychological Society’s Social Psychology Section annual conference by PhD researcher Peter Macaulay from Nottingham Trent University, having been produced in conjunction with Professor Michael Boulton from the University of Chester.

A total of 868 pupils aged from 11 to 13 from two UK secondary schools participated in the research, answering a questionnaire that measured their responses to six hypothetical

bullying scenarios, three for both traditional and online bullying, which increased in severity. Positive bystander behaviour, which included seeking help from a teacher or a peer or providing emotional support to the victim as well as directly intervening in the incident, was more frequently suggested by participants in cyberbullying scenarios than in more traditional ones. The researchers also found that female participants suggested higher levels of positive bystander behaviour than males, an effect that was consistent across both traditional and cyberbullying instances.

Pupils also had their empathy levels tested 6

before the questionnaire, with those exhibiting higher levels of empathy being more likely to suggest positive bystander behaviour across all scenarios. September 2017

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