The government has been ridiculed after releasing an anti-bullying video in the same week one of its senior ministers faces disciplinary actions over allegations of bullying staff.
The Department for Education is at the centre of a Twitter storm following the release of a video condemning bullying in UK schools.
The 80-second clip posted on the department’s official Twitter account Thursday coincides with anti-bullying week – an annual event in the UK to raise awareness of the bullying of children and young people in schools and elsewhere.
The video was shared on the same day a report on bullying allegations against home secretary Priti Patel was leaked to the press.
In it, the home secretary was found to have “not met the requirement of the ministerial code to treat civil servants with consideration and respect”.
The footage shows the minister for education, Gavin Williamson, introducing new government initiatives to stamp out the anti-social behaviour.
“Bullying is never acceptable. Every school must have anti-bullying policies in place so no pupil fears coming to school or working online,” he says.
“That’s why we’re…backing headteachers to make classrooms calm and disciplined to bring out the very best of each pupil and we are taking forward plans to make the internet a safer place for all users.”
He adds: “With so much of life this year having gone ‘virtual’ our new relationships education is teaching children how to respect others.
“Together, we can make sure every child grows up feeling confident and free to be themselves and stamp out bullying.”
Social media users did not waste a moment heckling the minister’s timing.
“No irony here,” quipped @Cornish_Rebel while John Alflat said the minister “couldn’t have timed this better”.
“Because you guys know what to do with a bully, right? Oh, you don’t, just let her carry on without consequence. Great example,” Louise F posted.
Dame Sue shared: “Good idea to put this out when you don’t keep your own ranks clear of bullying – which is never right.”
Martin quipped: “The government minister for bullying, seems to have misinterpreted the role, focusing on the bullying bit more than tackling bullying.”
The government minister for bullying, seems to have misinterpreted the role, focusing on the bullying bit more than tackling bullying. 😅
— Martin #RE (@MorrisinMilan) November 20, 2020
“This message might be more meaningful if you lead by example and ensure Priti Patel is sacked immediately,” argued Geoff Barton.
@eastkent_tutors pointed out: “The consensus from the families I work with is that your performance is nothing short of scandalous.
“Children are terrified of going into school and can’t make sense of the situation and parents are fearful of the repercussions of keeping their children home. Frankly the biggest bullies, right now, [are] those running this mess.
Others took aim at the government’s decision to scrap a programme tackling the bullying of LGBT students in England.
Clive Witcomb posted: “Awks… ‘Celebrate what makes each child unique’ – so long as they are straight and cis, huh?”
"Celebrate what makes each child unique" – so long as they are straight and cis, huh?https://t.co/AZPsW72t2T
— Clive Witcomb (@afterthepageant) November 19, 2020
@nicktolhurst added: “With the timing and competence for which he has become legendary…”
Children are terrified of going into school and can't make sense of the situation & parents are fearful of the repercussions of keeping their children home.
Frankly the biggest bullies, right now, those running this mess.
— East Kent Tutors (@eastkent_tutors) November 19, 2020