Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Sunday, August 29, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK


Primary school bullying 'on increase'

The charity can only answer 3,500 out of 15,000 calls a day

Bullying at primary school is forcing up the number of children calling a national helpline, figures released by a charity suggest.

Counsellors at ChildLine's 24-hour phoneline reported a 12.5% increase in calls from schoolchildren aged 11 and under, during the period from April 1997 to March 1998.

Just under one third of the calls were from children complaining about bullying, leading experts to fear that more young children are suffering without feeling able to tell parents or teachers.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "We are particularly concerned at the high number of calls from young children complaining about bullying - too many are carrying the double burden of being bullied and keeping silent."

'They punch me'

One nine-year-old boy called to tell counsellors he had tried to commit suicide by jumping from a tree as a result of bullying.

"They punch me, slap me about and pull my hair. I tried to hide my dinner money from them but it has made it worse - I can't take it much longer," he said.

ChildLine, launched by TV presenter Esther Rantzen, is launching a fundraising campaign to help counsellors answer more of the calls they receive.

Only 3,500 of the 15,000 calls a day to ChildLine can be answered due to lack of funds.

During the 1997-8 period 18,000 children of primary school age called the charity, 2,000 more than the previous year.

The charity said the figure fitted into the general trend, with all calls increasing by more than 10% each year.

Some 30% of younger children complained about bullying, compared to 17% of children of all ages.

Tip of the iceberg

Other issues raised were sex abuse, divorce and physical abuse in the home with twice as many boys (23%) as young girls (11%) complaining of being beaten at home.

Valerie Howard, ChildLine chief executive, said: "Every year the number of young children calling us increases, but we realise these calls are just the tip of the iceberg.

"Many children tell us that the ChildLine counsellor is the first person they have spoken to about what is happening to them - some may have remained silent for months, even years, before finally plucking up the courage to call."

The charity is launching a range of fundraising badges featuring characters created by children's books illustrator Raymond Briggs.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Education Contents

Hot Topics
UK Systems
League Tables

Relevant Stories

12 Aug 99 | UK
'Four in 10 children bullied'

06 Aug 99 | Health
Bullies 'even unhappier than their victims'

07 Jun 99 | Education
Weeding out the bullies

04 Jun 99 | Education
Bullies target stammerers, says study

02 Mar 99 | Education
Schools get anti-bullying network

Internet Links

ChildLine bullying advice

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

'Golden hellos' fail to attract new teachers

Children join online Parliament

Pupils 'too ignorant to vote'

Red tape toolkit 'not enough'

Poor report for teacher training consortium

Specialist schools' results triumph

Ex-headmaster guilty of more sex charges

Blunkett welcomes Dyke's education commitment

Web funding for specialist teachers

Local authorities call for Woodhead's sacking

Dyslexic pensioner wins PhD

Armed forces children need school help

Black pupils 'need better-trained teachers'

College 'is not cool'