Ignorance is bliss - for the bullies

15th April 2005 at 01:00
It must have struck viewers who tuned in to the bullying item on the BBC's Panorama programme on Sunday night how exceedingly difficult it is for young people to be taken seriously when they complain about bullying - and to have any confidence that effective action will be taken. "Just ignore it," teachers were heard saying on tape in Dyce academy, where a pupil is suing the education authority for failing to protect her. It will also strike people how laboriously slow the process is: the Dyce case was first headlined in 2003.

We cannot "just ignore" a problem about which Childline Scotland receives some 6,000 calls a year. Schools do face pressures to avoid being regarded as places with bullying problems and there is also an enormous fear of litigation. But parents are not always intent on being trigger-happy in the legal sense; they simply want the problem dealt with. Yet, schools do not always deal. We should therefore welcome the fact that the parental involvement bill, whatever conflicting views there may be about it, does demand that schools must have an effective complaints system.

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