A national strategy to beat the bullies
The implication that schools are not as aware as they should be of the impact of this problem is certainly not true at Inverurie Academy. During our annual anti-bullying week, we presented to every year group a playlet highlighting the issues of both homophobic and cyber-bullying.
The anti-bullying week presentation to parents was led by a representative from Childnet International, which specialises in helping children and their parents deal with misuse of communications technology. This was last September, not last week.
For a number of years now, the school has used the Text Someone system to make it easier for pupils and their parents to report bullying to the school via mobile phone and the internet. This is because we recognise how difficult it is for the victims of bullying and those who witness it to take that first crucial step and tell someone.
Furthermore, because the school is always looking for ways to improve its anti-bullying and anti-racism strategy, a pupil support system was established in 2005. We call ourselves pupil supporters and have undergone training to develop mediation and mentoring as well as listening skills.
Unlike some similar schemes, ours is not restricted to seniors: volunteers from S2, S3 and S4 are trained pupil supporters. This is because we want to build on expertise and because we are aware there are times in the school year, such as during study leave, when senior pupils are not available.
Like all the schools you have featured recently, many (if not most) are tackling bullying in their own way. What might be helpful would be the establishment at national level of an anti-bullying group or "tsar" to identify good practice, disseminate it and help schools develop effective strategies for dealing with the problem. This way, schools would not have to reinvent the anti-bullying wheel.
Emma Gibb on behalf of Inverurie Academy Pupil Supporters