Pupils think talking achieves more

14th March 2008 at 00:00
Five secondary pupils from Glasgow are convinced that - in contrast to the research study reported on this page - the best way to tackle bullying is by airing the issue and raising awareness. And students from across Europe agree with them.

Joe Galloway from Shawlands Academy, Rachael Martin from All Saints Secondary, Luke Belcourt from Hillhead High, Max Graham from Holyrood Secondary and Dominique Barclay from Lourdes Secondary (above, from left) took part in a youth conference in Brussels last month, which drew up a European youth charter aimed at making their schools more inclusive.

The S3 pupils were chosen to represent their schools in a British Council-led project, Inclusion and Diversity in Education: Next Generation Europeans, and will continue to promote the messages for the next three years.

Having laid their nine-point charter before the European Parliament, the young Scots last week met Scottish politicians to seek their backing in tackling bullying.

An online survey of pupils in their five Glasgow schools - also carried out in Birmingham and Cardiff - showed that victims of bullying identified language difficulties, skin colour, racial difference, religion and differences in clothing and physical appearance as the main triggers.

Joe Galloway described how one of his friends, who is gay, was bullied because he was different; Dominique Barclay talked about pupils in groups, such as Goths or Neds, being picked on; Luke Belcourt said tensions sometimes arose if staff wanted Muslim pupils to remove their headscarves.

But all agreed that while sexism was an issue in some European schools, it was not in theirs.

Max Graham said one of the main points which came out of the survey was that pupils who had recently moved to Scotland were most likely to be bullied, because of their lack of language skills.

The Glasgow pupils want to tackle bullying issues by making student councils more effective. And they endorse another clause in the European youth charter: that schools should educate the whole person, not just concentrate on academic learning.

- The study by the British Council also found that nearly 43 per cent of secondary pupils in Scotland think bullying is a problem in their school. The figure is 48 per cent in England and 32 per cent in Wales. The UK study of 1,500 pupils found the most common reasons for being "made fun of" were physical appearance, clothes and language difficulties.

Photograph: Chris JamesEpicscotland.

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