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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 00:10 GMT
School bully payouts rise
Phones
Text messaging is a modern form of "psychological bullying"
The cost of compensation claims for bullying at school has risen sharply in the past five years, figures suggest.

Insurer Zurich Municipal, which covers a majority of schools in the UK, said its figures showed the total cost of bullying claims rose by 225%.

The higher costs came despite the fact that fewer claims were being made.

The government said the fall in the number of claims indicated that schools were using the anti-bullying policies they were required to have.

'Serious issue'

Zurich Municipal's advice is that early intervention whenever a problem appears is crucial.

For reasons of its clients' confidentiality it declined to say how many cases were involved or what level of settlements were being made.

An anti-bullying policy alone will not solve the problem - it has to be proactively implemented as well
Alan Hunter, Zurich Municipal

Its technical claims manager, Alan Hunter, said: "Bullying is clearly a very serious issue for schools.

"In many cases, the victim can be so scared or traumatised, it can be several years after an incident has actually taken place before a claim is made, which clearly has an effect on carrying out an investigation," he said.

"An anti-bullying policy alone will not solve the problem as it has to be proactively implemented as well.

"It is important for head teachers to ensure policies are kept at the forefront of teachers' and pupils' minds to guarantee that the message is ingrained as part of the school culture and is a continuous activity."

Discipline

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said the fact that the number of claims had fallen showed that many schools were using their compulsory anti-bullying policies to "take the battle to the bullies".

"Our white paper proposals will give teachers a legal right to discipline pupils, strengthening their authority to take firm action on bullying," he said.

"They will also send a strong message to parents and pupils that bullying will not be tolerated."

Earlier this week a 23-year-old woman was been given a payment of 20,000 after taking legal action over bullying at her south Wales primary school more than 12 years ago.

Sophie Amor was given the out-of-court settlement after suing Torfaen Council for seven years of victimisation which she said destroyed her life.

Zurich Municipal said it was not involved in that case.




SEE ALSO:
Bully victim's suffering payout
20 Feb 06 |  South East Wales
Parents urging action on bullying
22 Nov 04 |  Education
Q&A: Bullying
22 Nov 04 |  Education


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