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Tuesday, June 23, 1998 Published at 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK


Victim of bullying takes local authority to court

Teenage victims of bullying face the prospect of compensation

A woman who says she was victimised by school bullies almost a decade ago is suing her local authority in a case which may have widespread ramifications.

If successful, the case raises the prospect of other bullying victims in Scotland seeking redress against their former education authorities.

Deborah Scott's case, which is being heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, claims damages against Lothian Regional Council for failing to stop the physical and mental bullying that she endured while a pupil at the Royal High School, Edinburgh.

The bullying, Miss Scott told the court, began when she was 13 years old and included constant taunts and attacks. On her birthday, Miss Scott said that she was stripped to the waist by other pupils and dragged along the ground, an experience that led her to need psychiatric treatment.

After this bullying incident, Miss Scott did not attend the school for eight months and was then transferred to another school. She told the court that such was her distress over the bullying that she took an overdose.

Victim's parent complained to MP

The claim against the Lothian Regional Council (which has itself disappeared in a local government re-organisation) contends that despite Miss Scott's complaints about bullying, the school did not respond. She says that there was no system of support for victims of bullying and pupils were not encouraged to alert staff to problems with bullies.

The case against the council argues that the authorities were fully aware of what was happening to the schoolgirl. As well as the pupil's reporting of the bullying to teachers, the girl's mother contacted her MP and the girl's grandmother informed the police about the alleged assaults.

Miss Scott's solicitor said that the case was also being pursued on behalf of other victims of bullying. "She is hoping her case will be successful, but more than that she has said many times she hopes to help others in the same situation that she found herself in."

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