Bully for the tsar

5th November 2004 at 00:00
The "children's tsar" admitted this week that she was "completely taken aback" by media coverage of her admission that she had been bullied at primary school.

Kathleen Marshall, Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland, commented: "But perhaps that shows that what was once more or less acceptable and even run-of-the-mill was now something to talk about.

Because it certainly was not at the time. The fact that we can hold firm to the statement that 'bullying has no place in Scottish schools' is a triumph in itself."

Mrs Marshall was addressing a conference of the anti-bullying network in Dunfermline on Wednesday. Andrew Mellor, the network's manager, called on adults to consider whether they encouraged bullying among children.

"There are still some adults whose own behaviour contributes to the creation of a negative bullying ethos in school communities," Mr Mellor said. "Some adult behaviour is culpable, such as the adult who causes fear and alarm in a sensitive child by excessive and unjustified shouting, or the adult who behaves in a bullying way towards another adult."

Mrs Marshall said effective procedures for reporting and investigating bullying should include independent complaints procedures and might also use restorative justice and mediation approaches that are already emerging in some schools.

The commissioner said mediation was preferable to punishment. "There is all the difference in the world between an adult who treats children with disrespect and one who loses the rag on an isolated occasion when under stress."

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