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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
School bully complaints 'rising'
Children fighting
Thousands of children are afraid of going to school, the charity says
More youngsters than ever before are complaining about bullying to children's charity Childline.

More than 37,000 young people called for counselling from April 2005 to March 2006, compared with 32,500 the previous year, the organisation said.

Bullying was the most common reason to request help - accounting for 23% of all the calls to the service.

The charity's Lindsay Gilbert called for every school in the country to introduce an "anti-bullying charter".

Ms Gilbert, head of Childline in Partnership with Schools (Chips), said: "Right now thousands of children are dreading going back to school because of the bullying they will face."

She called on parents and carers to play a role in shielding children from bullying.

NSPCC ADVICE FOR PARENTS
Listen to young people's feelings and concerns
Help them to explore their options and keep control - don't take over
Talk to other adults. Explore options both in school and at home
Encourage children to feel good about themselves - those who bully and the bullied often lack self-esteem
Encourage children to understand that we are all different, yet all equally important
Encourage children to think about their own and each others' feelings

"Not only can parents help tackle bullying, they are also crucial to helping their child through what is often a terrifying and demoralising experience."

As schools prepare to reopen for the new academic year, the organisation has released anti-bullying tips for parents.

The advice includes how to react if a child is being bullied, how to deal with the school, and how to detect the early-warning signs.

Childline cites an area of growing concern as homophobic bullying.

They estimated that 2,725 young people call them each year to talk about sexual orientation, homophobia or homophobic bullying.

A study of calls found youngsters indicated "too many teachers do nothing about homophobic bullying", and many young people fear telling their parents, they said. Those counselled by Childline about homophobic bullying report feeling extremely lonely and isolated and feel that they have nowhere else to turn.

'Reasonable force'

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) said: "We are working to ensure schools provide a clear focus on responding to homophobic bullying in anti-bullying training and materials for schools and teachers.

"We also support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender history month in schools to help young people understand the significant contribution made by all communities to the diversity and success of this country."

The spokesman added: "The new statutory power to discipline in our education bill will strengthen the authority of school staff, give them the confidence to take firm action on bullying, and underscore powers such as confiscation, reasonable force, and punishing pupils for unacceptable behaviour beyond the school gates."




SEE ALSO
Concerns raised over bullies poll
23 Jul 06 |  Hereford/Worcs
Campaign to tackle gay bullying
04 Jul 06 |  London
Young children 'learn homophobia'
14 Jun 06 |  Education

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