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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 July 2006, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Concerns raised over bullies poll
Mouse and keyboard
Teachers are able to access the votes cast by pupils
Anti-bullying charities have raised concerns about online polls to pinpoint bullies being tested in schools.

Bully Beater asks pupils to vote for the worst offenders, the results of which are accessed by certain teachers.

Chris Cloke, the head of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said he was concerned that the problem of bullying could be over-simplified by the system.

But St Mary's Roman Catholic School in Hereford, which is testing the system, said it had worked well so far.

Bully Beater lists all pupils in a school alphabetically, allowing their peers to rank them on a bullying scale.

I think it isn't simply a question of just voting for who the bully is
Chris Cloke, Anti-Bullying Alliance

Those who take part are also asked to provide comments to back up their assertions.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance was set up by the NSPCC and the National Children's Bureau in 2002 and brings together 65 organisations aimed at reducing bullying.

Mr Cloke said: "I'm concerned about approaches that may reduce responses to bullying to a kind of technical solution and which may strip away the human or personal elements.

"This is a very human problem. I think it isn't simply a question of just voting for who the bully is.

"We need a much wider framework to tackle bullying."

'Open system'

He also raised concerns that the system could be misused by pupils.

Mike Fitzgerald is assistant head teacher at St Mary's school, one of 100 schools testing the system, and the only teacher there allowed to access the votes.

He said: "Certainly no-one has used it maliciously. If pupils were doing that then there is something going wrong.

"The system is open, they could abuse this but in fact we have been fairly impressed by the way our pupils are treating it."

Its creator, Ralph McKay, said: "We were very careful to come up with a method which avoided the naming and shaming issue.

"We have authorised teachers to see the vote counts and the teachers can also see who exactly has voted and who they have voted for.

"The student knows the teacher can see who they are voting for."




SEE ALSO
Online poll aims to beat bullies
13 Jul 06 |  Education
A career as school bully
16 Nov 05 |  Magazine
Bullying shifts to mental cruelty
14 Nov 05 |  Education

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