Widespread bullying in schools is not being tackled, new report shows

Published on Wednesday, 02 March 2011 15:08
Posted by Scott Buckler

New research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that bullying based on students' identities remains a widespread problem and is limiting the achievements of those who are bullied


Efforts to tackle the problem vary between local authorities and for different types of prejudice related bullying.

A panel of guests including Nick Gibb MP, Minister for Schools will be debating the findings of the Commission's report 'Prevention and Response to Identity Based Bullying' and its detailed review of equality - 'How Fair is Britain' - today at Westminster Academy, London.

The study for the Commission carried out by Goldsmiths, University of London found that nearly two in ten of all school students said that they do not feel physically safe at school.  Nearly half of 6-10 and 14 year olds said they had been bullied at school. Among the primary school children who said they were being bullied, four in ten said it was happening at least once a week.

More than eight in ten disabled pupils have been bullied at school. Two in three lesbian, gay or transgender secondary school pupils said they had been bullied and nearly one in six of them had received death threats.

The failure of local authorities to address the problem has a negative impact on the achievements of young people who are being bullied.  They do worse in their GCSE exams and are twice as likely as others not to be in education, employment or training at the age of 16.

Most local authorities agree there is a need for monitoring the prevalence of bullying across all groups in school or in the community, however, very few have this in place as they are only obliged to gather evidence of race-related bullying. While 75 per cent had evidence related to the prevalence of racist bullying in schools, this fell to less than 40 per cent for bullying relating to sexual orientation, gender and religion or belief and to less than 30 per cent for disability-related bullying.

The report recommends action in several critical areas, including:

    * Local authorities need to gather more evidence on the extent of identity based bullying; without understanding the size of the problem it is impossible to target resources where they are needed or to monitor progress.
    * Local authorities have asked for, and need, more guidance and support to help them tackle bullying in their schools.  Any guidance developed should be specific to each type of bullying.
    * A preventative strategy should be adopted which considers all the equality strands and focuses on tackling prejudice.  The aim should be to adopt a 'whole of school' policy and create an environment which promotes diversity and inclusion.

Based on evidence in its review of equality 'How Fair is Britain', the Commission has already specifically recommended that action is needed to reduce the incidence of homophobic, trans-phobic, disability and religiously motivated bullying in schools and workplaces.

Baroness Margaret Prosser, Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

'Bullying is a corrosive element running through the lives of many young people.  Parents should expect that their children will be safe in school, but that is not the experience of many school children. 

'As a society we are paying a high price for failing to adequately tackle the issue.  Bullying not only affects the day to day life of those involved but also blight's their chances in life.

'Schools should have the support they need to address bullying. This could be through preventative strategies that really get to the root causes of prejudice and by having equality and diversity as key components of the core curriculum.'

The Commission will shortly hold a roundtable with key policy makers from government and the education and voluntary sectors to discuss the report findings and develop a coordinated approach to tackle the problem.

Source: ©EHRC

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