Anti-bullying toolkit launched

Mobile phone and internet bullying will be among targets of a new service run by a mental health charity and a lesbian and gay support group.

A joint bid by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Youth Scotland and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has won the five-year contract to create an extended anti-bullying service in Scotland.

Better Futures will not provide help directly to victims but increase awareness of the problem and help develop policies and strategies to combat it community-wide - even in churches.

The bid was selected from five examined by the Anti-Bullying Leadership Group, made up of people from a range of professions.

Better Futures will receive pound;350,000 for the first three years, with cash for further years reviewed thereafter.

SAMH will have overall management responsibility for the service, which replaces the Anti-Bullying Network, set up in 1999.

The announcement will have come as a bitter blow for the founder of the network, Andrew Mellor, who pioneered anti-bullying moves in Scotland. He was involved in a bid by Children in Scotland, rejected earlier this year by the Scottish Executive, who said it did not develop the service in the way it wanted.

Mr Mellor wished the successful bid well and called for the publication of a package of materials, designed by the network, to help schools refresh their anti-bullying policy. "A lot of schools contributed to that and they are waiting for it," he said.

Better Futures will create a toolkit for organisations to develop anti-bullying policies; training; and national assessment of policy and strategy. It also hopes to act as a forum to share best practice and resources.

Education Minister Peter Peacock said: "Bullying represents a living hell for some young people and we have an absolute responsibility to challenge and deal with it whenever it arises.

"Nowhere is immune from bullying, not even youth clubs or Sunday schools.

And the advent of text messages and emails means that we must develop strategies to tackle these too.

"That's why we have extended our anti-bullying service, to widen the focus.

This is a real challenge for Better Futures, who will work with schools and communities, at various levels, to develop solutions and share what works."

The Scottish Executive provides pound;144,000 to Childline Scotland's dedicated Bullying Helpline on 0800 441111.

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