Is Stalinism taking over?

30th March 2007 at 01:00
I was saddened to see that the recent launch of respectme, the new anti-bullying group, passed off without any reference to the valuable legacy from its predecessor body, the Anti-Bullying Network, or to the pioneering work of its director, Andrew Mellor.

Andrew and I started our respective campaigns in education at about the same time (the 1980s). Since then, our paths have travelled in parallel, so I have been able to observe the difference that he has made.

When Andrew started, bullying was seen as a normal part of growing up, even as a good development experience for children. It was largely through his efforts that bullying got on the agenda, schools started to develop anti-bullying policies and people began to think that bullying should be taken seriously. Indeed, the creation of the Anti-Bullying Network was largely a by-product of Andrew's efforts, backed by the professionalism and dedication of the ABN's small but energetic staff.

To suggest, now, that parents need to be made aware of bullying is to arrive on the scene late in the day, while deciding to focus on bullying by mobile phone and email is entering territory that was well explored by the ABN.

One of Andrew's achievements was to be the voice of reason while being passionate about making bullying unacceptable. He was keen to find solutions and equip children and adults with strategies for dealing with bullying themselves, rather than see the issue dealt with through law courts.

Many of us who knew ABN's excellent work were puzzled when the Scottish Executive pulled its funding, closed it down and made its highly professional staff redundant. We were more surprised that there was a vacuum until the new organisation was set up. Then there was the final insult of airbrushing the ABN out of history at the launch of the new organisation. It would seem that Stalinism is having a revival in more than one part of government.

Judith Gillespie

development manager, Scottish Parent Teacher Council

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