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Kate Fawcett reports
"Text messaging seems to have replaced the furtive note"
 real 56k

Friday, 16 March, 2001, 15:43 GMT
Text message bullies action call
Mobile phone screen close up
Thousands of messages are sent each day
Scottish education chiefs have been urged to draw up rules limiting the use of mobile phones after reports that some pupils were being bullied via text messages.

Children at Stirling High School had mobile phones confiscated after threats of physical violence were sent using the short message service.

Some educationalists have called for a code of conduct to be drawn up for all schools.

However, others believe that pupil power is the strongest weapon against bullies, regardless of the technology used to pick on others.

Pupils with mobile phones
Messages are sent round the playground
Surveys suggest that nearly half of all youngsters between seven and 16 own a mobile phone.

They are said to send, on average, three text messages a day - some even during lessons.

Stirling High School rector Greig Ingram said that, for one girl, the messages became particularly threatening.

He said: "It started fairly low level, just they would get her and that she was no longer flavour of the month.

"But eventually it ended up it was a case of they were threatening her with physical violence and this particularly concerned the parents because I think there had been incidents out in the community of verbal abuse, followed up by these text messages, which were received on a fairly regular basis."

'Inherently bad thing'

Falkirk Council education director Dr Graeme Young said: "The best way to have it eliminated would be through pupil power.

"If they themselves could appreciate, as I'm sure the majority of them do, that it is inherently a bad thing then the fact that it is on a modern, swish, technological medium is no better than writing on the wall in days gone by.

"So if their pressure could be brought to bear, that would be the ideal way."

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See also:

27 Jan 01 | Scotland
Bullying 'openness' call
16 Jan 01 | Education
Girl tormented by phone bullies
16 Jan 01 | Education
Control freaks 'create bully victims'
09 Mar 00 | Education
Bullies use mobile phone threats
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