Understanding all the effects of bullying takes training

25th April 2008 at 01:00
I was pleased to see Norman Roxburgh's comment, "Difficult to define bullying" (TESS, April 11), in response to the research published in the paper
I was pleased to see Norman Roxburgh's comment, "Difficult to define bullying" (TESS, April 11), in response to the research published in the paper. Many of his points and suggestions for good practice echo those of Respectme, Scotland's anti-bullying service.

We don't advocate a traditional definition of bullying but we believe that, through consultation with staff, parents, carers and young people, individual organisations can establish a working agreement of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. This must be made clear to children as well as to the adults, to ensure a consistency of response when incidents arise.

Schools and other organisations which work with young people must have practices in place to support those who are having relationship difficulties, even if they aren't identified as incidents of bullying.

However, to make professional judgments about whether an incident is bullying or "normal" childhood behaviour, the adults involved should have an in-depth understanding of how bullying behaviour affects not only those directly involved, but also the wider group and the ethos of the organisation as a whole. This can only be achieved through ongoing training and professional development, which Respectme offers free.

Brian Donnelly, director of Respectme.

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