It is playtime again, a time where I am not safe,
Thoughts cloud in my mind and I cannot face,
The loneliness I feel, the utter rejection,
Everyone fits in here – but I’m the exception,
It churns in my stomach that I am so hated,
I’ve done nothing to earn it, it was just fated,
The anxiety is crippling as I walk through the door,
I don’t want to do this anymore,
But day after day I have no choice,
I have no rights, I have no voice,
I’m fed to the wolves without a second thought,
They’ve laid a trap and I am caught,
I return to the classroom with bruised body and mind,
Hidden by my uniform so the teachers don’t find,
A trace of who has done this, who is terrorizing me,
There is no escape, no hope of being free,
If I tell it gets worse, I know I have tried,
And I have screamed and shouted and sobbed and cried,
These scars will endure and be here till the end,
I will carry them with me like an old friend,
As an adult these scars will ruin so many things,
So, in the end the bullies will really do win.
We must change this for the next generation
It is children’s mental health week, teachers everywhere can make playgrounds safer by remembering that difference is often singled out and punished by others. It is seen as a weakness: minorities are disadvantaged in playgrounds just as they are in every other area of society.
Please consider playtimes as an opportunity to create positive alliances and highlight positive inclusion strategies. Offer vulnerable children a safe place where they can play protected under the watchful eye of staff – without making it obvious. Create areas within the playground such as supported games areas, sensory areas or imaginative corners. Always have a safe route to the toilets or ‘hidden’ spaces where children are often targeted by bullies.
It is unfair to allow vulnerable children such as neurodivergent children, queer children, minority children etc. to face playtimes unsupported.
This mental health week please make a pledge to protect every child in your care.