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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
'Nearly half' of pupils bullied
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News Online education staff

Pupils
A report calls for more supervision of bullying
Almost half of all pupils have been bullied at school, a survey suggests.

Some 45% of eight to 13 year olds had been victims at school and 32% outside school, research at the University of Central Lancashire found.

The study, of 1,972 children in the north-west of England, also discovered there was little risk of bullies being caught by teachers.

It recommends more "effective supervision" for those identified as causing problems for other pupils.

'Low risk'

The research found children were often identified as "bullies" or "victims" both inside school and outside.

However, far fewer lived up to their labels when outside.

This, lead researcher Dr Mike Elsea said, supported his theory that that there was a "low risk" of bullies being caught within schools and that it required "less effort" here than elsewhere.

He told BBC News Online: "We tend to overplay the natural characteristics that are related to bullying.

"The institutional focus, looking at the discipline programme and the effects of peer pressure, could be more important.

"If you take bullies out of their environment and put them somewhere with a different ethos, you can create different behaviour."

Dr Elsea recommends three main ways of deterring bullying.

The first is to "increase the effort" needed to intimidate, by making victims more able to defend themselves. For example , having areas where young people can go that are not under the control of the peer group, such as zones within playgrounds.

The second is to increase the risk of detection of bullying, by ensuring staff are more vigilant and encouraging pupils and parents to report problems.

The third is to remove the rewards for bullies, preventing them from gaining food or money from victims, thereby changing the "status games" going on.

Dr Elsea thinks bullying is easier to deal with in the short term than over a long period of time.

He said: "We must maintain the momentum. We must always ask whether the system is working and what can be improved. That way we can start to solve the problem."

The children's charity NSPCC is calling for all schools to have a dedicated counsellor.

Dr Elsea was taking part in the British Psychological Society's conference at Imperial College London.


SEE ALSO:
All schools 'need a counsellor'
01 Dec 03  |  Education
Name-calling 'worst form of bullying'
16 Apr 03  |  Education


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