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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
New bullies are 'indulged brats'
Girls tend to be more open and give bullies more ammunition
A new breed of "brat bullies" from middle class homes is terrorising the playground because of parents' refusal to say "no", MPs have been warned.

Children are going to school believing themselves "little gods", the Commons education select committee heard.

Michele Elliott of Kidscape said the bullies were not thugs but "little Miss Sunshine or little Mr Wonderful".

When confronted by schools many parents also refused to believe their "perfect child" was bullying, she said.

"In addition to children coming from homes where bullying is basically fostered, we found a whole other group of bullies who come from homes where they are so indulged that they go to school and they are little gods," Dr Elliott told the hearing.

"They think that everything just revolves around them. We call them the 'brat bullies'."

They expect all the teachers and other kids to kow-tow to them
Michele Elliott
Speaking after the committee hearing, psychologist Dr Elliott said this behaviour was often more of a problem among girls than boys.

"They are spoilt by their parents and feel that the world basically owes them, and that the other children should be as in awe of them as their families," she said.

"They expect all the teachers and other kids to kow-tow to them. If they don't, they start to bully the other children.

"The parents of these children are pretty difficult to deal with because they do not see the children in that situation."


David Moore, a senior inspector at Ofsted, said girls tended to be more open about their feelings and gave bullies more ammunition.

He told the committee that girls used "non-verbal communication" to bully each other.

Children must know what is right and what is wrong
Department for Education and Skills
A group of girls would walk up to one of their classmates and deliberately turn away without speaking to her in order to isolate her.

"Nothing is said but that actually diminishes the youngster in their self-esteem and confidence," he said. "It stops them from learning."

He also called for accurate figures on how widespread the problem of bullying was in English schools and for more long-term research into the issue.

Mr Moore also suggested that one way of tackling the problem in schools would be for teachers to warn older bullies that they could face criminal prosecution for intimidating and threatening behaviour.

The Department for Education and Skills said: "Children must know what is right and what is wrong, and that there will be consequences for crossing the line."

Schools had to have anti-bullying policies, and had expert advice as well as "hard-hitting measures" including parenting orders and permanent exclusion.

"Measures in the Education Bill, including a new legal right to discipline, weekend detentions and fines for parents will send a strong message to pupils and their parents that bullying and failure to take responsibility for tackling it will not be tolerated," he said.

Do you think new bullies are "indulged brats"? What are your experiences of bullying?

Your comments:

Another report that shows what us old girls already knew! I went to an all girls schools and the bullies were brats not thugs!
Claire Hanwell, London

I work as a teacher in a high school and we definitely see evidence of the brat bullies - indulged children who never hear the word 'no' at home and then react incredibly badly to the boundaries and rules that we set for them. Their inter-personal skills are poor because they are used to being spoiled and getting whatever they want as soon as they want it. Indulgent parents are creating a generation of children who believe themselves to be untouchable, not just by teachers, but by any source of authority.
Annette, Suffolk

As a high school guidance counsellor, bullying is common-place and far-reaching. It is not the physical intimidation, but as your article states, "it is the diminishing of self-esteem". The majority in any society are law-abiding, positive contributors to their community but there are those who feel 'entitlement' and parents enable this behaviour by refusing to acknowledge that their little darlings are capable of bullying and demoralising other students.

Parents must take responsibility and allow the school system to carry out consequences for actions that are deliberate, malicious and pre-meditated. Thank you for your article and every school system worldwide is dealing with this tenuous issue.
Paula Layefsky, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I agree. My wife's a teacher in a school in an affluent area, the discipline problems are terrible, exacerbated by the guilty parent syndrome.
Adam, Stockport, Cheshire

I'm a primary school teacher and in my current school (primarily middle class kids) I have noticed this very effect. But it's the parents who really need to be tackled. I've experienced at first hand a parent who turned violent and aggressive when confronted with the bullying behaviour of his (able) child. What makes it worse is that unless school leaders are strong these parents get away with it.
'A', Weston-super-Mare

My son was bullied at primary school, and it was exactly this sort of reaction we got when trying to discuss with the parents: "My little angel wouldn't do that..." Interestingly, those parents are usually the ones who spend little or no time with their child, but who believe that the child will be fulfilled if enough money is spent on them. There is no substitute to parental love and time - certainly not, at 10 years old, a posh mobile phone and a 10 note to buy your own dinner from a takeaway because your parents are too busy with their own lives.
Kevin Patrick, Bournemouth

I think that "brat Bullies" has been happening for a while, most bullies seem to be those that are very popular with teachers and are adored by their parents and so seem to believe the world owes them and that they are better than everyone else.
Charlotte , Shropshire

New? This is exactly what my "best" friend in primary school was like 10 years ago. She was the apple of her parent's eyes; at least when they saw her between all the improving after school clubs and the au pair had gotten off for the night. Given that we were in a group of three her favourite way of stopping one of us from getting uppity was to convince the third person to stop speaking to them for a while, using whatever we'd said to her from the last time that third person had fallen out of favour.
Mel, Oxford, England

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