Harlaw Academy is a school with only 3 ‘rules’:  respect people, respect learning and respect community.

The first says:

“respect people: we will consider the health, safety and well being of ourselves and others”

It is clearly important to cover aspects of safety in a secondary school.  We have specialist equipment in Science, Technical, Home Economics etc.  At Harlaw we are in the City centre with busy roads around us.  We are in a busy building with just over 1000 people.  In short the safety message has to be uppermost in all our minds.

A number of the rights within the UN Convention of  the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) relate to survival and protection, without which development and participation are difficult to achieve.

In a community where we consider the health, safety and well being of ourselves and others we need to be able to “call out” behaviour which poses a risk to people.  This may be bullying behaviour, abusive language, racism, violence, picking on people because of a particular or protected characteristic etc.  If such behaviour goes unchecked and unchallenged then some individuals/groups can be left feeling vulnerable.

We need to recognise that part of why this happens is because it is often very difficult for the victim speak out.  Not only have they suffered once but they can often get the message that the rest of the world is looking away, staying silent and protecting those with the perceived power.

The victims need to know that the bystanders will not stay silent and look away.  That is why I am sharing with you an Active Bystander resource called Speak Up Speak-Up_Final_compressed    It is a resource which speaks about vulnerable groups, hate crime and gives bystanders strategies to show active support for anyone who is vulnerable.

It is not only a characteristic of schools and teenagers we can all look away or turn a deaf ear (racist and sectarian chants in football, bullying/sexist behaviour of people in power).  The speak up resource offers very clear advice on what we can all do to “notice”, “call out” and “act” in support of victims and potential victims.

Whilst I say it is not only a characteristic of schools one thing which I do sometimes get from youngsters is “I am not a grass”.  When we cover topics such as drugs, bullying, knife crime, mental health we make very clear to pupils that sharing information before somethng serious happens is far better than having to live with it on your conscience.

I hope families will take time to look at this resource and we can encourage all in our community to be active bystanders who speak up for the vulnerable and “call out” those who prey on the vulnerable.   In school and beyond:

“respect people: we will consider the health, safety and well being of ourselves and others”