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Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 12:11 GMT
Anti-bullying: Will the guidelines help?

The government has unveiled new guidelines for schools to tackle the issue of bullying.

With an estimated one million victims of bullying every year, the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, hopes the new guidelines will help end the "no-blame culture" and the "ingrained thuggery" among some youngsters.

The guidelines also attempt to address the issue of bullying outside the school grounds.

Will these new guidelines change anything? Can teachers prevent bullying even if it happens outside the school gates? HAVE YOUR SAY When my daughter started school in the UK back in 1969 she was bullied by having her ponytail pulled. Always by the same fat little "slug". I taught her how to put all her weight behind a punch. I know defending yourself is out of fashion, but I watched her one morning as she belted the "slug" on the nose. She never got bullied again. And she never continued hitting him after the first time.
Derek Still, Australia


Parental responsibility in this issue needs to be accepted

Peter Cameron, Hong Kong
I have been a teacher for almost thirty years and in that time have witnessed a significant shift away from bullying being accepted as condoned behaviour in our society. There is still a long way to go before bullying in schools can be properly recognised as a reflection of the wider society in which we find ourselves in. Parental responsibility in this issue needs to be accepted and if an information pack in schools helps this process to take place then it should be applauded.
Peter Cameron, Hong Kong

Anything to help the situation is useful. There was nothing in place in my day. Much of the bullying is caused by peer pressure and that everyone has to think the same otherwise they get bullied etc! Kids should have the confidence to be themselves. Kids should realise that the bully is a scared person if they are taken away from the group. I wish every kid luck
Jacinta, UK


In times gone-by anyone caught being a vicious, vindictive bully would be given a de facto taste of their own medicine by a teacher with a cane or a parent shamed by their offspring

James Denning, UK
In times gone-by anyone caught being a vicious, vindictive bully would be given a de facto taste of their own medicine by a teacher with a cane or a parent shamed by their offspring. The liberal left has seen to it that these flawed but nevertheless effective means have been totally outlawed but have completely and utterly failed to find a proper alternative - leaving us with the cancer in society of children who have no respect for authority an even less for their peers - and take out their anger on the others.
James Denning, UK

Bullying at school, sexual harassment and intimidation at work - anybody else out there believe the two are related? Schools are microcosms of society. From very early in a child's education teachers can make frighteningly accurate guesses as to who will end up a drug addict, pregnant or successful. Changing that future is the challenge that really needs to be taken on. From the responses on this page the problem of bullying is endemic throughout the education system and action is long overdue.
Jenni, England

I was bullied at school, I got over it more or less but I have friends who still fear bullying in their twenties and thirties etc. I have been bullied at work but just as at school did not report due to fear - the same fear I had as a school pupil. I agree with John from the Netherlands. Bullying should be dealt with from the outset. From toddlers onwards if needs be. Children and adults can be so distraught they take their own lives. This must stop.
Marina, Scotland


There is an awful lot of work to be done to remove the culture of bullying from schools

Louise, UK
There is an awful lot of work to be done to remove the culture of bullying from schools. It is good that they are going to try harder. In the mean time the parents of bullied children need to know that they do not have to leave their children in the system to wait and see if something can be done. They can de-register their children from school and keep them at home without breaking the law. They will not have to reproduce school type lessons at home or follow the National Curriculum. Educating at home is not the daunting experience that most people envisage. Children naturally learn. There are many websites on the subject such as www.home-education.org.uk.
Louise, UK

Through my own experience and indeed through many friends I know, schools never want to eradicate the problem of bullying. To try and solve the problem would mean they would have to admit to having a problem. This of course would never attract parents to send their children to that school. If a school says it doesn't have a bullying problem, I don't believe them!
Alex White, UK


This type of behaviour begins at home, and that is where it should end

Dave, USA
Although bullying is a problem it seems to me that too much responsibility is placed on the schools. I don't have any problem with giving schools the authority to combat bullying on campus, they should be able to. At the same time when the government makes it the responsibility of the schools to stop bullying off campus that goes too far. First you make suggestions about how schools can try to prevent bullying off campus. Later on it becomes accepted that this is truly the responsibility of the schools. The result is that you put one more burden on an already seriously overburdened system. People need to start putting the responsibility where it belongs, with the parents. This type of behaviour begins at home, and that is where it should end.
Dave, USA

I do not like bullying, BUT, I feel the any "Anti-Bullying", or "Anti-Hate" legislation or rulings or policies amount to "Thought Police" which is unfair, uncontrollable, non-objective, and un-enforceable.
Michael Brininstool, USA


We need to start rewarding the key providers

Duncan Hurwood, England
It's no coincidence that there's a Talking Point about bullying, closely following one about yob behaviour. There are both symptoms of the same problem - the lack of an inclusive society that children can look up to. As the old symbols of respect (teachers, policemen etc) are removed by low pay, and the greater freedom of employment the modern society offers, it's no surprise that the lowest common denominator of behaviour becomes the norm. If we want a healthy society we need to start rewarding the key providers, and ensure that we get the best people for the job. New guidelines won't solve anything without a change of personnel, and in government attitude.
Duncan Hurwood, England

Establishing guidelines with regards to the behaviour of school yard bullies is futile. Human behaviour is not simply regulated by well-intentioned laws or rules unless enforcement and sanctions are in place. Juvenile violence, in any form must be addressed with a consequence that deters further such conduct. So-called treatment solutions, given as social programs, are weak, and often seen as such by the juvenile offender. Laws that work must command respect. The cause of this violent school yard behaviour is in fact rooted in a lack of respect; for fellow individuals, the school, teachers, parents, police, and so on.
Michael, USA

I was a victim of bullying for five years during my high school life. I am 21 years old now and am still suffering the affects that bullying has had upon me. I didn't get the much needed help and support from teachers who didn't recognise the severity of the situation. Luckily I am starting to enjoy my life now at university, but surely we need to provide more help for those who are still suffering. I don't think the government is taking the issue of bullying seriously enough, it is a growing problem and will continue to be so. Unless we act now we could see more cases like that of Damilola Taylor.
Steven Britton, United Kingdom


The root cause of increased bullying is the erosion of traditional values

Jeff, USA
The root cause of increased bullying is the erosion of traditional values, a clear sense of right and wrong and the breakdown of the traditional family. Tougher sentences for assault and battery, trying more children as adults, improved education and shoring up the traditional family should curb the amount of bullying, but there has always been bullying and there always will be.
Jeff, USA

After changing from a boys only school to a co-ed in the late 60s I became the subject of bullying. As a sensitive type I became withdrawn and most definitely failed to reach my full potential academically. I did tell people, parents and teachers (one of whom was as bad as the kids verbally at least) and nothing was done. I got over it but I still get a tear in my eye when I read of children pushed to suicide because of bullies. Having deliberately not attended reunions I wonder how my schoolmates turned out, did they go on to become yobs and criminals or pillars of society?
Mike, England


The politically correct resolutions only aid the bullies

Graham, Scotland
I was bullied at school several years ago and was left with a feeling of low self-worth that has plagued me ever since. My parents drank, therefore there was no respite at home. Like others in the same boat I used alcohol to escape or suppress these feelings. Now, as a father myself, I am hypersensitive about this issue and can see no way to resolve the problem other than severe punishment for the perpetrator. The politically correct resolutions only aid the bullies and do nothing at all for the victims.
Graham, Scotland

I was bullied at school, and found out after years of bullying that violence is the only language they understand. If they want to live by the laws of the jungle, then they have to accept the actions of the jungle, e.g. a broken nose. This stopped the bullying, but years later as a pilot, I met the bully in a canteen serving tea/ coffee. Just to remind him of the "old days" I poured my coffee all over the floor and made him come over and mop it up, apologise for delaying me and be humiliated in public. With these scum revenge is always a dish best served up cold!
Jez, USA

As an outsider looking in I'm wondering if the bullying that goes on in your schools contributes to the "we gotta fit in" mentality that's observed by other countries. Over a long period of time would this significantly change the outlook of student coming from your schools? It may just provide students with more confidence in their own opinions. Personally I was bullied in our school system. Although it was not condoned it was not stopped and it took me many years to regain confidence in my own opinions and abilities.
WSM, US of (oh my god we elected "W") A


Why is it called Bullying at school and Assault outside the school gate?

Peter Abbott, England
Bullying as a term is only recognised within the confines of the school. If these acts of violence and intimidation were perpetrated in the street they would be deemed criminal acts. Schools and teachers should not turn a blind eye to them because the children are at school but be held responsible because they occur within their jurisdiction, Parents should also be accountable for their child's actions as they are if the acts occur outside in society. Why is it called Bullying at school and Assault outside the school gate.
Peter Abbott, England

You only have to listen to the slanging matches in the House of Commons that are akin to children in a playground calling each other names etc, to know that they should put their own house in order and set an example before high handedly trying to tell everyone else what to do. When the leaders of our country act like responsible adults then the rest of us might follow.
Chris, UK

Ah yes, but without the victims of bullying, where will the next generation of Labour politicians come from?
Charlie, England

It's a pity that the Education Secretary fails to explicitly mention the enormous problem of homophobic bullying in schools. This is a major contributor to the appalling level of suicides among young lesbians and gay men. It's sad that after all the handwringing following Damilola Taylor's awful death, so few picked up on his mother's complaint that he was taunted by school bullies for "being gay".
Michael D, UK

I don't know how anyone can blame the teachers when they are too afraid to act for fear of being sued! Bring back the cane!!
Jane, UK

I was bullied from age six until age ten and do not agree with the view that teachers and guidelines can do little. Changing schools allowed me to see that a zero-tolerance attitude from teachers can make all the difference, especially in providing physical safety.
Marielle, The Netherlands


Bullying does not develop character - it robs the soul

John, Netherlands
I grew up in the UK where bullying was and still seems to be an accepted part of the culture, even amongst adults! I have lived for many years now in the Netherlands and have 2 children (7 and 10) at school here. In the Netherlands, anti bullying policy involves every child and parent, and begins as soon as a child can walk. Bullying, which in the NL is seen to include teasing, name calling, deliberate isolation (the so called 'Coventry'), ganging up etc., as well as more recognised forms of physical bullying, is considered by ALL parents and teachers as TOTALLY unacceptable behaviour. It is not tolerated in any form.
It is time that Britain moved away from relating constantly to the past, in a time when bullying was an accepted part of the route to 'manhood'. Bullying in any age, or in any form is unacceptable. It should be placed in the same bin as other outdated manhood tests such as 'long runs before breakfast followed by cold showers'! Bullying does not develop character - it robs the soul.
John, Netherlands

I gave up teacher training, and part of the reason was powerlessness of the profession in the face of disruptive pupils (euphemism for 'badly behaved'). Unless the culture of pupil 'rights' is changed, the problem will continue, as teachers have no sanction against bullies, they cannot even restrain them. Corporal punishment might or might not help solve the problem (unless perhaps administered to irresponsible parents), but the fact it can no longer even be considered an option is part of the problem. Instead, let's just continue to talk about our feelings and find out why the poor bully is really a victim of 'society'.
Ken Beach, Germany

Kids need guidance, and guiding them is a service that few people will deliver for free. If confused parents and underpaid teachers give up, bullies will deliver pathological leadership for the pathological reward of sadistic pleasure. Put more money into education, and promote imaginative, outgoing teachers NOW. Or train and arm anti-mob police for tomorrow.
Leszek Luchowski, Poland


A bullying initiative is passed down from on high by a bullying government

Andy S, UK
It's a bit ironic that a bullying initiative is passed down from on high by a bullying government. The frequently partial and badly substantiated pronouncements of the former Chief Inspector of Schools; Blunkett's imposition of performance related pay on teachers; the hideous stress on individualism and competition which results in schools, and more importantly their pupils, being labelled as 'failing'. All these are symptomatic of institutionalised bullying in the education system. How about a spot of 'physician heal thyself'?
Andy S, UK

Bullying is hardly a new issue and the potential solutions remain the same. Bullied children need to be given a sense of self-worth and this is best achieved by involving them in activities that promote this. You would be surprised how many sportspeople, artists and martial arts experts were bullied as children. This allows children to develop the self-confidence to stand up to bullies. I'm sorry to say this, but involving police, teachers and parents is rarely effective. Giving a child the 'tools' to deal with the problem themselves is.
Mark B, UK


I welcome the opportunity to do more than just discuss the problem

Anna Trevitt, England
At long last, guidelines are being issued which will afford our children some protection within school. Granted, there is little that teachers can do outside of school premises. Hopefully, the new guidelines will help instil better social attitudes amongst schoolchildren as they see that the efforts of their parents to combat the bullies are now complemented by DfE support for the school's anti-bullying policy. As a parent and parent-governor of a school with a small bullying element, I welcome the opportunity to do more than just discuss the problem.
Anna Trevitt, England

Anti-bullying: Will the guidelines help? Who is trying to kid who? Of course they won't work! Why not? Because the authorities (the teachers) are just as scared of doing anything about it as those being bullied. With our modern system, you only have to look at somebody in the wrong way and they take legal action! A good old clip on the ear or better still, the cane from the head-teacher, should sort things out more. These 'Do-good' lobbies are ruining not only the country but civilisation as well!
John C, Warwick, England


Staff are instructed NOT to break up any fighting

Paul, UK
My wife helps out in a junior school playground. How on earth can we control bullying, when the staff are instructed NOT to break up any fighting because they may end up being sued by the children's parents? That leads to the bullies being able to get away with it. Furthermore, it gives the impression to them that the adults actually condone it.
Paul, UK

A friend and I bullied a boy in my primary school. My comeuppance was meeting him 14 years later to find him self-made and high-flying while I remained stuck in a terrible job for another four years. Any bullies reading this, it will catch up with you one way or another, in a way you least expect it, so think about that before you attack someone tomorrow.
H, UK

Bullies are pack animals and cowards and should be dealt with by the law. However, in our rush to be seen to be doing something, let's not get over zealous and start expelling people for normal playground banter.
Gerry, Scotland

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