News of school bullying and bullying of children
Updated 4 August 2002
Current news about workplace bullying and related issues
News of workplace bullying in the USA
2002 news | 2001 news | 2000 news | 1999 news | 1998 news | 1996/7 news
See also BBC News Online and use the search facility for "bullying"
Ditto Daily Telegraph and Guardian
Bullying news reorganised
As from August 2002 news of child and school bullying is included in my monthly enews. For previous monthly enews (from January 2002 onwards) click here.
4 August 2002: an inquest in Whitby heard how 13-year-old Jack Glasby hung himself after being bullied at Caedmon School, Whitby, Yorkshire, which he had left five months previously. As a study by Kidscape found, the cumulative psychiatric injury caused by bullying at school endures, often throughout life. Problems started in February 2001 when another pupil hung Jack over a stairwell and said he would drop him. Caedmon School headteacher Tony Hewitt told the inquest strategies to help Jack were offered by the school and stressed that all incidents of bullying, however minor, were dealt with and documented. [More]
Bullies and failing schools given
green light by court
5 July 2002: Jamie Bright and Caroline Newby, now both 20, have lost their legal battle for compensation for
prolonged bullying whilst at Shotton Hall Secondary School in Peterlee, County Durham. Recorder Julian Goose accepted Miss Newby and Mr Bright had been bullied but said the school was not to blame. The verdict effectively gives bullies and schools which fail to deal with bullying the green light. Private Eye has named Durham as the "Rottenest Borough in England" in its Rotten Boroughs column.. Each year in the UK at least 16 pupils are driven to suicide because of bullying whilst there are 19,000 attempted suicides by school-age children. [Full story | FAQs]
very proactive on preventing this kind of thing"
8 June 2002: parents who have battled school indifference and repeated failure to deal with bullying will be familiar with this claim. Following a series of physical attacks a Carmarthen schoolgirl from Llansteffan ended up slashing her wrists with a compass in a cry for help because teachers weren't able to protect her from months of bullying. Things got worse when the bullies were identified. Head of Queen Elizabeth Maridunum School Mr Gwyn Thomas claimed that the school took bullying very seriously. Displaying his lack of knowledge of the need to be proactive not reactive, Mr Thomas denied responsibility by saying that "Unfortunately if we are not made aware of allegations in any way there is little we can do. We also promote Childline services in the school and are very proactive on preventing this kind of thing." If a child is in the position of having to contact Childline, has not the school already failed in its anti-bullying policy and in its duty of care? [Full story]
Oxfordshire LEA goes after
14 May 2002: Oxfordshire Local Education Authority, already under scrutiny for its poor record for failing to deal with both school bullying and bullying of teachers, is now instrumental in sending parents to prison for failing to send their children to school. In the UK at least one percent of children have been withdrawn from school to be taught at home, with LEA's failure to provide safe studying conditions, bullying, budget cuts and lack of opportunity most frequently cited. The figure is expected to rise to 3% (nearly half a million children) by 2010. It would be interesting to know how much money Oxfordshire County Council spends on legal action each year - all of which is paid for by council tax payers. Oxfordshire County Council was also responsible for "losing" the records of a paedophile teacher who abused children for over a decade. Which is the greater crime, and who more deserves to be in prison?
Anti-bullying scheme leads to
10 May 2002: a scheme to reduce bullying on school buses has led to an award for two South Wales schoolgirls. [Full story]
Government takes notice of
9 May 2002: The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador' Department of Education is sponsoring a forum to deal with the problem of bullying in schools: http://www.gov.nf.ca/releases/2002/edu/0509n08.htm
Bullies win again
8 May 2002: an Oxfordshire parent has lost her appeal in the High Court to have her son statemented so he can attend a special school. The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been bullied for several years at four different schools and has suffered a stress breakdown due to the violence committed against him. Despite exhibiting many of the symptoms of psychiatric injury, Oxfordshire LEA are continuing to insist on the cheaper option that he be educated in a mainstream school despite the LEA's failure over a period of several years to deal with bullying. Bullying of teachers (usually by the head or principal) is so common in Oxfordshire that a support group, OXBOW, has been set up. At least 50,000 families have chosen to educate their children at home, schools' failure to deal with bullying being one of the most frequently quoted reasons.
Figure skater bullied
6 May 2002: 12-year-old potential Olympic skating champion Aaron Vays endured physical and verbal abuse from fellow students. When he stood up for himself at school in the absence of the school taking effective action, he was further victimised by the school principal (in schools where bullying is rife it's usually because the principal does not have control of discipline): [More]
Bullies found guilty in New
25 April 2002: seven bullies who sexually assaulted a fellow pupil at Taradale high School have been found guilty in Gisborne, New Zealand. [Full story | Interview with the target]
Emotional abuse of choirboys
23 April 2002: amid claims of systematic bullying, emotional abuse and deep unhappiness, Lincoln Cathedral organist Colin Walsh has been made redundant. Cathedral authorities deny any connection. Mr Walsh, an internationally renowned organist, has been suspended on two previous occasions for the alleged emotional ill-treatment of choristers. [The Times | An uncannily similar story at Westminster Abbey]
Another UK bullycide
18 April 2002: 14-year-old Adam Grigg hanged himself with a lanyard from his sea cadet's uniform after three years of bullying which started at Broadgate Primary School, Horsforth, Leeds, and continued when he moved to Horsforth School. Adam was described as a quiet, sensitive child who loved to play with computers and his pet dog. He was looking forward to a career in the Royal Navy. Instead he endured three years of being spat at and beaten up, and had threatening notes written in his school books which culminated in his suicide to escape the violence. [More]
Bullying by cell phone
15 April 2002: bullies like to use the anonymity mobile phones, text messaging and the internet to torment the people they target. [Full story]
Another UK bullycide
13 April 2002: 13-year-old Laura Kilibarda was found hanged in her home at Lisvane, near Cardiff, after complaining about being bullied at school. [More]
Another Canadian bullycide
8 April 2002: Emmet Fralick, a 14-year-old pupil at St. Agnes School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, shot himself in his bedroom because he was being bullied by classmates. Emmet was regarded as a quiet boy with a reputation for kindness to others. [More]
Guilty verdict in Canadian
5 April 2002: the child bully accused of causing the suicide of Dawn-Marie Wesley has been found guilty by a Canadian court. [More]
Brookside uses bullying storyline
20 March 2002: popular UK soap Brookside has been developing a storyline which involves Anthony being bullied by Imelda at school. Every attempt to deal with the bullying has failed, the school has failed in its duty of care, and the LEA has even prosecuted the family for taking Anthony out of school. The realism is frightening. Events come to a tragic climas as Anthony fights off yet another assault by Imelda and in the ensuing scuffle, Imelda slips, hits her head on a rock and drowns in a pond.
League table of
questions for DfES
15 March 2002: the UK Department for Education and Skills (DfES) publishes a scorecard of the most frequently-asked questions. If you're a parent, enquiring about bullying will help to move bullying to its rightful number one spot. You can email or write.
5 March 2002: an inquest on 15-year-old Hannah Taylerson has returned a verdict of "self-harm". Hannah hanged herself with her school tie after having problems at school which included peers talking about her behind her back. Previously Hannah had visited her doctor with self-inflicted cuts which she told him were due to problems at school, John Cabot City Technology College in Bristol, England. Hannah had recently visited school counsellors but had apparently not told them about bullying. Recording his verdict, Bristol coroner Paul Forrest said: "This girl had problems with friends and her boyfriend and she took her own life." [More]
The fairer sex
3 March 2002: Girls just wanna be mean is a comprehensive article examining girl-on-girl bullying in the New York Times (you have to register but it's free). This led to a complementary feature Mean Girls in the UK broadsheet The Observer.
Causes, not effects
28 February 2002: a swipe card pilot scheme at St Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic High School in Edinburgh will enable pupils to pay bus fares, visit sports centres and buy their lunch without the need for cash. The aim is to stop children being bullied for their dinner money. There was no mention of any scheme to tackle the problem at source by holding bullies accountable. Do people not understand that if bullies are denied one excuse for bullying, they simply invent another? If a child is picked on because they have "sticky-out ears" will the child now have to have their ears cut off?
Inquest returns open verdict
20 February 2002: the inquest on 13-year-old Morgan Musson who took her life after being tormented for seven months has returned an open verdict as the coroner could not satisfy himself that she intended to kill herself. Unlike a physical injury or physical cause of death, a psychiatric injury cannot be studied and recorded after death. All the coroner has is (sometimes) the suicide letter and (always) the denial of everyone who contributed to the bullycide: the bullies, the witnesses of bullying, and those in authority who should have acted but didn’t. Greater weight is often attached to these denials than to the written and reported testimony of the deceased who has been tormented to death and to the deceased’s family who have lived (and continue to live) the nightmare. An open verdict, which may be legally correct, neither relieves the suffering of the family nor does it enable the perpetrators to be held accountable for their sins of commission and omission. [More | Previous thread]
Revenge is sweet, if costly
30 January 2002: a couple in Germany have been forced to pay compensation for attacking members of a female gang who bullied their son at school. They say the compensation is a price worth paying because the 15-year-old hasn't been bullied since. [Full story]
Parents publish daughter's letters
28 January 2002: 14-year-old Laura Grimes committed suicide in July 2001 after planning her funeral and preparing a will. Now her parents have decided to publish her letters, one of which described her daily ordeal of physical and verbal abuse which Laura intended this to be read aloud at her funeral. As with many cases, Laura was too frightened to tell anyone of the torment she was suffering (the reasons why children do this are revealed in Bullycide: death at playtime). [Full story]
Bullying rife in China
26 January 2002: bullying is not restricted to Western nations ... some 94 percent of Chinese students feel unsafe in school as the incidence of violence and bullying rise, according recent survey. [Full story]
Court of Appeal dismisses claim
23 January 2002: Leah Bradford-Smart, 21, has lost her case for damages for "persistent and prolonged bullying" when she was a pupil at Ifield Middle School, Crawley, West Sussex, between 1990 and 1993. In a ruling in the High Court in November 2000 Mr Justice Garland said that although a school might know that a pupil was being bullied at home or on the way to school, teachers only owed a duty to prevent the behaviour spilling over into the school. Her treatment by fellow pupils inside school was not severe nor prolonged enough to merit calling it bullying, he said.
Miss Bradford-Smart says she was branded an exhibitionist and a prostitute who flaunted her body by pupils who had seen her in a paddling pool at home with just her knickers on. She said she was chased around the playground, thrown against fences, suffered taunts, and on one occasion was pushed into a road in front of a car while she was waiting for the school bus. West Sussex County Council argued successfully that there was very little sign that she was being bullied while at school, and that the education authority could not be responsible for behaviour outside school. In spite of this harassment and assault - which if she were an adult might result in charges of attempted murder - she still managed to perform well at school, so the school was able to argue that her performance was not affected and thus the bullying was not severe enough to merit a claim for damages.
The appeal judges said that there may be occasions when a school was in breach of its duty to combat bullying even if it was outside school, but "those occasions will be few and far between". For legal comment see The Times.
Government takes school bullying more seriously
16 January 2002: in a welcome move, the UK government has given schools in England new powers to exclude pupils who persistently bully. Recognising everyone's right to not have to endure bullying at school, government schools minister Estelle Morris said that bullying was "not acceptable" and that it was "not something pupils should have to put up with." Details at BBC News Online.
Bullying amongst girls more widespread
9 January 2002: the idea that girls in school are well-behaved and not a problem has been challenged in a study headed by Professor Audrey Osler of the Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education at Leicester University. The tactics of rumours, whispering campaigns, verbal and psychological bullying, self-exclusion, feigning victimhood when outwitted, etc are all there, as is young people's ability to manipulate and outsmart their adult teachers. Details at BBC News Online.
More bullies kept in class
3 December 2001: the government's latest attempts to paper over the cracks, this time its drive to reduce expulsion figures by coercing schools to keep bullies in school rather than expel them - has, as expected, backfired. Head teachers now warn that any school which keeps its bullies in lessons might be prosecuted under the Human Rights Act for allowing pupils to be subjected to degrading treatment. In an apparent U-turn, the government's latest schools information pack called Don't Suffer in Silence states: "It should be clear what the sanctions are for bullying and in what circumstances they will apply. Strong sanctions such as exclusion may be necessary in cases of severe bullying." Alas, this will only move the bullies to somewhere else. Is there no-one at the DfEE who can understand that bullying needs to be tackled at source?
Increase in bullying and suicide
27 November 2001: the incidence of bullying and suicides caused by bullying has risen sharply over the last ten years according to leading childrens' charities. Almost half of the children calling ChildLine in 1999 who were contemplating suicide identified bullying as the main cause. Other pressures included the exam stress and the pressure to score high grades.
A lot of the reported bullying took place on the way to and from school, where schools are able to argue successfully in court that it's not the school's responsibility. Click here for a legal challenge to this abdication of responsibility. By the DfEE's own admission, over 30% of girls and 25% of boys are afraid to attend school at some time in their life because of bullying. In 1999 Education Minister David Blunkett imposed a legal requirement on schools to develop an anti-bullying policy, an instruction which caused every school in the country to divert scarce resources into re-inventing the wheel. The result is that those schools who deal with bullying continue to deal with bullying, whilst those schools who fail in their duty of care now have a piece of paper to wave in court to justify and excuse, often successfully, their denial of responsibility and breach of duty of care.
Bullycide follows act of kindness
27 November 2001: fifteen-year-old Elaine Swift died from an overdose of painkillers after a campaign of bullying, harassment and assault which started after she was featured in the media for having donated bone marrow to her younger sister who was suffering from leukaemia. Elaine's parents say that they were let down by the LEA who failed to take her allegations seriously. The bullying comprised daily verbal harassment and taunting, and on one occasion a lighted match was thrown into her hair, which caught fire.
The situation had become so untenable that Elaine was moved from Brierton School in Hartlepool last year. Head teacher of Brierton School Stuart Priestley stated that his school had a “rigorous anti-bullying policy” and that every incident of bullying that was reported was investigated. Bill Jordon, head teacher at Elaine's new school, Dyke House in Hartlepool, said that he was satisfied with steps taken to deal with bullying claims made by Elaine. Hartlepool's assistant director of education Adrienne Simcock asserted “I am confident that the school has acted properly and taken all the appropriate steps when investigating the claims.”
Elaine died after an emergency liver transplant failed to reverse the effects of 100 paracetamol tablets taken over a period of a fortnight. [More: The Times]
Nottingham teenager's death follows bullying
21 November 2001: an inquest has been opened into the suicide of 13-year-old Nottingham teenager Morgan Musson who was found dead in her bed on 15 November. Morgan's mother, Debra Savage, claimed that her daughter had been taunted and bullied by girls from Ellis Guilford School in Nottingham for seven months and that the school had not done enough to deal with the bullying. Nottingham LEA said they had taken action but there was no evidence to suggest that the bullying amounted to anything more than verbal abuse. Ellis Guilford headmaster Peter Plummer declined to comment. [More: BBC News Online The Times]
Accidental death has
hallmarks of bullycide
17 November 2001: 10-year-old Natasha Holmes-Smith was found hanging by a dressing gown cord in her home in Bicester, Oxfordshire, today. Although police are treating Natasha's death as an accident, the secretive nature of bullying means that it cannot be ruled out as a cause.
Prime Minister's wife chairs school bullying
5 November 2001: Cherie Booth today chairs a conference on bullying organised by the children's charity Childline. For the fifth year running Childline reports that bullying has been the major problem among its 20,000 calls in the previous year. 'In some schools sadly there is still a tendency to claim "It doesn't happen here", or to adopt an approach which forces the problem underground rather than out in the open,' Booth says. Details in The Observer along with Cherie Booth's own article Together, we can beat the bullies.
"One of the most distressing suicides
I've ever come across"
20 September 2001: an inquest in Bristol heard today how 14-year-old Laura Grimes committed suicide by taking an overdose of painkillers after being bullied at school and rejected by friends. Avon and District coroner Paul Forrest described Laura's case as "one of the most distressing I have come across in 20 years". Laura took a massive overdose of Co-proxamol painkillers after leaving eleven suicide notes. Headmaster of Mangotsfield School, Derek Hall, said that the school had a very strict policy on bullying, and that Laura had never complained of bullying to her tutor, head of year, or to her large number of friends. See BBC News Online.
Bullying target petitions Prime Minister
30 August 2001: after enduring more than 10 years of bullying, 14-year-old Joanne Geldart, from Ferryhill, County Durham, has petitioned the Prime Minister to intervene. See full story at BBC News Online.
Academic research perpetuates misleading picture
22 August 2001: academic research from the University of Hertfordshire perpetuates the "blame-the-victim" myth that bullies are "strong" and victims are "weak". To describe victims as "smaller and weaker than those bullying them" is to fail to identify bullies as cowards who only pick on children who are shorter and less physically strong than themselves. The research talks about victims suffering "illness" but doesn't identify those illnesses as the inevitable symptoms of psychiatric injury or who has caused that injury. Targets of bullying withstand physical and psychiatric injury for months, sometimes years, in contrast to bullies who run whinging to authority for protection the first time the tables are turned. The research also failed to emphasise that children who are in terror of daily physical and psychological violence will eventually start truanting or absenting themselves from school through a justified fear of serious injury. The failure of duty of care of responsible adults was not mentioned.
The picture of bullies as "healthy" and "strong" is misleading, for bullies are weak, cowardly and inadequate in most areas of their life. Self-reporting ticksheet surveys are notoriously unreliable, especially as bullies will rarely admit to any of their shortcomings. Whilst the research listed victims as suffering from bedwetting, no mention was made of the fact that bedwetting is common in aggressive children and an important indicator of future violence (almost all serial killers were teenage bedwetters). Neither does the research mention the fact that at least 60% of bullies will go on to have a criminal record. When you add non-arrestable offences, the figure could be 80-90%. Hardly "strong" or "healthy", eh?.
AMA recognises bullying causes psychiatric injury
12 July 2001: in their article AMA recognizes bullying as public health problem the American Medical Association recognises that abuse of children by other children may contribute to violent behavior, addiction, criminal activity and other ills of society.
ChildLine report confirms Bullycide findings
7 July 2001: a report by children's charity ChildLine confirms Neil Marr and Tim Field's estimate in their book Bullycide: death at playtime that at least 16 children commit suicide each year because of bullying. If anything, ChildLine's findings show an even gloomier picture with children as young as six feeling suicidal. The main reasons are bullying, abuse, and exam stress. At least 500 calls to ChildLine each year are from children who will attempt suicide. Even more shocking is that the psychiatric injury caused by bullying, abuse and exam stress results in hundreds of young adults committing suicide after they leave school; in 1998, 571 young men and 159 young women aged 15-24 killed themselves.
Another bullycide in Scotland
23 June 2001: Nicola Raphael, 15, died after taking an overdose of painkillers at her home in Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. She had been the target of bullying for some time. The bullies at Lenzie Academy had speciously used her style of dress - which they labelled as "Gothic" - as a rationalisation for their violence towards her and had branded her "a freak". A spokeswoman for East Dunbartonshire Council said that "Nicola was part of a group within the school which did receive unwanted attention from other pupils and where incidents were reported and names provided, investigations were carried out and appropriate action taken." Or not.
Bullycide: death at playtime published in e-format
15 June 2001: Tim Field and Neil Marr, co-authors of Bullycide: death at playtime, have teamed up with Electric eBook Publishing in Canada to make their book available in electronic format via the Internet. A range of formats are available and you can download a sample chapter. Click here for details.
Edinburgh News runs campaign
15 June 2001: Time for us to gang up on bullying, Jack McConnell, Scotland's Minister of Education, Europe and External Affairs, writes in the Edinburgh News.
Coroner investigates bullycide
11 June 2001: Southwark Coroner's Court (London) is hearing today the sequence of events that led to pupil Jevan Richardson taking his life in February. The court will hear of acts of isolation, exclusion, different treatment to other children, confiscation, embarrassment, abdication and denial of responsibility and breach of duty of care which led to increasing frustration by parents. Chair of governors Don Mahony himself unwittingly raised doubts about the competency of headteacher Carmelita Winston when he wrote to Jevan's parents stating that the presence of their son at the school was "damaging to the health and welfare of the headteacher Carmelita Winston". This statement indicates Ms Winston appears to not have control of discipline at St Mary Magdelene's Catholic Primary School and raises doubts about Ms Winston's suitability for the post of headmistress. Ms Winston's (white) long-running battle with Jevan and his parents (black) also seems to indicate a vendetta against the family. See report in Guardian Unlimited. Teachers and lecturers are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line; in most cases the reported bully is the head teacher with the behaviour profile of a serial bully.
One in two schoolchildren is bullied
17 April 2001: Peter Dobbie writes about child bullying and bullycide in This is the West Country.
So what's it like to be bullied?
12 March 2001: Behind the Tragedy, the Despair of an Outcast is an article by Patt Morrison in the LA Times describing what it's like to be bullied relentlessly with no-one to help you deal with it.
Bullycide by Eminem rap fan
7 March 2001: 13-year-old Eminen fan Kayleigh Davies has become another bullycide. Her father, Martin Davies, found her hanging in her bedroom on 20 December 2000. Central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short recorded a verdict of suicide after hearing how that Kayleigh had been sent home from Alderman Quilley School in the morning of the last day of term by headmaster Kenneth Button for drinking alcohol. Mr Dawes told the coroner that because of bullying, Kayleigh had been moved from Crestwood School in Eastleigh to nearby Alderman Quilley where, after an initial period of calm, experienced bullying again. The inquest heard how it appeared Kayleigh had been thinking of suicide for some time and became intensely interested in rap music, especially Eminem, and pop stars like Jim Morrison who had gone out early.
Spree killing at California's Santee High School
5 March 2001: 15-year-old student Charles Williams shoots dead two fellow students at California's Santee High School. Williams had been talking about his planned shooting for several days but his comments were not taken seriously. As with many cases, initial reports suggest Williams was the target of bullying and teasing which was not dealt with. Click here for full story and here for information on spree killings, including how to recognise the warning signs.
Head told to quit
27 February 2001: headmaster and dean of Westminster Abbey's choir school Roger Overend has been ordered by the school's governors to resign or face the sack after a number of allegations of bullying stretching back over three years. Full story in The Guardian.
Bullying case fails
24 February 2001: 24-year-old Emma Hansen from the Isle of Wight has lost her claim against Isle of Wight Council for bullying she endured whilst at Ryde High School. The Council rejected Ms Hansen's claims and denied negligence in their duty of care. Ms Hansen however, related the usual tale of bullying, harassment and assault which she alleges the teachers did nothing to prevent. Neil Marr and Tim Field's new book Bullycide: death at playtime describes numerous cases of unrelenting bullying and lack of action by the school. When the target of bullying attempts or commits suicide, the school and the LEA deny everything.
Eighteen months after the government made it a legal requirement for schools to have an anti-bullying policy, children's' charity ChildLine reports that bullying remains the greatest "misery" for thousands of child callers. In 2000 ChildLine received more than 22,000 calls about bullying, making this the most prominent problem for the fourth successive year.
Can you help please Ma'am?
16 February 2001: 11-year-old Ruben Hayden travelled from Nottingham to London to ask the Queen if she could do something to stop the bullying at his school, Dayncourt, Radcliffe on Trent. Ruben used his experience of Monopoly to find his way to the Palace where he arrived tired and hungry. Although Ruben didn't get to see the Queen he was interviewed by Palace police. After a slap-up meal of sausage, beans and chips his parents were contacted to come and collect him.
As so often happens with bullying, his school said that his claims had been investigated, but teachers had not found enough evidence to justify taking action. However, as Ruben explained, "It was really horrible at school. I was always looking behind me and waiting for something to happen. I kept telling the teachers, but they wouldn't listen." His mother Wendy added, "He told me he was being picked on, kicked and spat at - really tormented. Once he came home with a bruise on his back the size of a cricket ball, saying he had been punched. His schoolwork was suffering and he was unhappy at home. I rang the school, but they said he was making it all up." Ruben is being kept away from school until a place is found for him elsewhere.
Another bullying-related suicide
14 February 2001: 10-year-old Jevan Richardson hanged himself at his home in Lewisham yesterday after being expelled from St Mary Magdelene's Catholic Primary School, Brockley. In a suicide note, Jevan wrote "I can't get anything right. I'm always wrong. I just want to die and I'm going to hang myself.". Lewisham Council have refused to comment.
Buddy Stop program reduces bullying
7 February 2001: Walkergate Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne, have taken the imaginative step of introducing The Buddy Stop, similar to a bus stop, where children can sit if they have no one to talk to or play with. The idea is that children in the playground are encouraged to proactively invite such children to play in their games, thus tackling the loneliness, isolation and exclusion which are often at the heart of bullying. Headmaster Don Smith felt that the idea had reduced instances of bullying.
17 January 2001: a survey by Young Voice has revealed that more than 50% of teenagers questioned said they had experienced bullying, whilst many had contemplated suicide as a way out of their torment. Some reported bullying via text messaging on their mobile phones whilst over 10% reported severe bullying, including physical violence, racism and blackmail. The survey also highlighted the psychiatric injury caused by bullying which included depression, suicidal instincts and resorting to drug taking. Severely bullied boys were reported to be more than five times as likely to be depressed, while severely bullied girls were twice as likely to say they hardly ever felt happy or confident. The study also noted the role vulnerability played in the way bullies target their victims; for example, severely bullied boys tended to live in a single-parent family which failed to give them the love and support they required.
Acland Burghley School anti-bullying action
12 December 2000: representatives from Acland Burghley school in Camden, North London were recently invited to a participate in a conference on bullying and peer counselling in Kolding, Jutland, Denmark. Click here for details.
New government anti-bullying drive
11 December 2000: every year over a million children have their studies impaired their lives made miserable by the thuggery of bullying. In the wake of the murder of Damilola Taylor, the minister for education at the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) David Blunkett has announced a new initiative on combating bullying in schools. An updated edition of the 1994 pack "Don't suffer in silence" will be launched shortly.
Damilola's death shocks nation
27 November 2000: the murder of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor has shocked the nation. Damilola was stabbed on the way home from Oliver Goldsmith Primary School in Peckham, London. He bled to death in a stairwell after an artery in his leg was severed. Before any substantive evidence had been released, the headmaster of Oliver Goldsmith Primary School, Mark Parsons, immediately denied any connection between Damilola's death and bullying at his school which he said was "limited to name-calling and playground scuffles". Damilola's mother had been to the school the previous day to complain of bullying.
Bullied pupil loses case
8 November 2000: 19-year-old Leah Bradford-Smart from Crawley, West Sussex has lost her High Court action for damages resulting from her local education authority's alleged failure to protect her from bullying whilst she was a pupil at Ifield Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex, between 1990 and 1993. Despite Miss Bradford-Smart's evidence being substantially accepted by the judge, the LEA successfully argued that bullying which took place on the way to and from school was not their responsibility. Miss Bradford-Smart's solicitor Jack Rabinowicz was critical of the verdict. "To allow bullies to drag a pupil out of a school just seems to be a distinction which gives schools and bullies the green light to make things worse," he said.
West Sussex County Council said there was very little sign at the time that Ms Bradford-Smart was being bullied. However, dealing with bully requires a proactive approach, not a reactive one. Bullies intimidate their target into silence with threats of physical injury (sometimes including death) whilst the responsible adults fail to provide an environment which ensures safety for the target and the accountability for the bullies.
Former pupils sue schools for
23 October 2000: 19-year-old Leah Bradford-Smart from Crawley, West Sussex has today started legal action in the High Court for damages resulting from her local education authority's failure to protect her from bullying whilst she was a pupil at Ifield Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex, between 1990 and 1993.
Meanwhile at Manchester County Court a former grammar school pupil has been awarded £1500 damages after a judge found that Sale Grammar School had breached their duty of care for failing to protect the pupil against 18 months of verbal abuse and bullying which culminated in a sexual assault on a school trip. Case law and settlements for school bullying are on the case law page.
During their research for a book on children who have attempted or committed suicide because of bullying at school which the school did little or nothing to deal with, co-authors Tim Field and Neil Marr have uncovered a catalogue of similar stories of prolonged bullying, school denial, and LEA intransigence. Schools and courts have yet to comprehend the predictable and prolonged nature of bullying. Surveys by ChildLine and Kidscape suggest at least half of all children endure bullying at school. See Bullycide: death at playtime.
Boy hangs himself after teacher
18 April 2000: an inquest in Leeds heard how 12-year-old Daniel Overfield hanged himself in November 1999 after a teacher told him he had "the attention span of a goldfish". The coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure as he believed Daniel probably did not intend to kill himself. Sarcasm appears frequently in bullying cases as it is a device whose intention is to hurt; many do not know this and thus use it unwittingly. In my view sarcasm is so destructive to self-esteem that it should only be used between consenting adults. Reading between the lines, it would appear that Daniel had already suffered psychiatric injury, possibly from bullying, and this remark, although not particularly devastating in itself, was the final straw. Daniel's case also reveals the bullying nature of an education system which forces children to undertake subjects of dubious relevance in which they have no interest and then punishes them for not excelling, often by public humiliation and ridicule. For the full story see BBC News Online and search for "Overfield".
Study finds 30% of children bullied at
17 April 2000: a MORI survey published by ATL today reveals that over the last 12 months, one in three secondary school pupils in England and Wales have had to endure bullying. One in four have been threatened with violence whilst one in eight have been physically assaulted. One in ten pupils say they have missed school for fear of violence. For more details see the ATL press release.
14 April 2000: in what has become an all-too-regular occurrence, Denise Bailie, 14, of Belfast Model School for Girls, is the latest school child to commit suicide because of bullying. It's estimated that in the UK at least 12 children take their life each year because of bullying at school which the responsible adults are failing to deal with. The DfEE do not keep statistics. For the full story see BBC News Online and search for "Bailie".
Another victim highlighted
4 April 2000: 10-year-old Louise Beal has returned to Launcelot Primary School in Lewisham, south-east London, after teachers were assigned as her "bodyguards" to protect her from bullying. However, as with Amie Salmon, such action draws attention to the victimhood of the target rather than tackling the source of the problem. The bullies are probably enjoying the gratification that comes from the power of seeing adults forced to take extreme measures due to their behaviour.
In a number of cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line involving teachers being bullied, it is clear that those responsible for bullying do not have control of discipline and can only maintain control through fear and threat. In such schools, bullying is rife amongst both adults and children. These are also often the schools that, when asked about bullying, reply with "We don't have bullying here. It's not a problem."
15 March 2000: research published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology this week suggests that unruly disruptive children excel at anticipating what kind of response is required to questions and are thus able to lie compulsively and convincingly, often blaming others. The ability to sense and supply what people want to hear is a well known feature of psychopathic personality; such people excel at deception and evasion of accountability. See BBC News Online and search for "unruly children".
Bullied pupil threatens legal
7 March 2000: 9-year-old Verity Ward is planning to take Bramcote Hills Primary School in Nottingham to court to force her school to protect her against bullies. After 18 months of bullying and despite numerous requests from her mother, the bullying has continued. Head teacher Andrew Pearson issued a statement saying "All reported incidents of bullying are investigated thoroughly and action is taken in line with the school's anti-bullying policy." However, 18 months of "investigation" and "action" have yielded no result and the bullying continues. Verity has already exhibited symptoms of severe psychiatric injury, including thoughts of suicide. At least 12 children commit suicide each year in the UK because they are being bullied at school and the responsible adults are failing in their duties to deal with the bullying.
For more details see BBC News Online and use the search facility. For information on dealing with schools who are not implementing their anti-bullying policy or taking bullying seriously, see Bullying OnLine. See also legal cases.
Bullied girl withdrawn from school
18 February 2000: 13-year-old Amie Salmon has been withdrawn from Glaisdale Comprehensive in Bilborough, Nottingham, after a year of bullying. Instead of dealing with the bullies, Amie was thrust into the spotlight by being given a mobile phone and special access to her teacher - which accentuated the victimisation rather than dealt with cause. The school's headteacher says he has found it difficult to get at the facts of the case - but after a year appears still not to have undertaken any training on the subject. For more details use the search facility at BBC News Online.
School specialises in treating
targets of bullying
21 January 2000: in a move reminiscent of Prof Heinz Leymann's clinic in Sweden, Carrie Herbert has opened the Red Balloon Learning Centre in Cambridge which specialises in helping child who have suffered psychiatric injury at the hands of bullies. Displaying a wide range of physical and psychological injuries, the children tell stories of violence, humiliation, exclusion, taunting, and, by inference, the abdication of responsibility by responsible adults which constitutes a breach of duty of care. For more details see BBC News Online and use the search facility for "bullying AND red balloon".
Scotland launches Anti-Bullying
10 December 1999: funded by the Scottish Executive, an Anti-Bullying Network goes live today. Andrew Mellor, Network Manager, said the project pulls together experience and advice on identifying and tackling bullying. For more information see the Anti-Bullying Network web site, or call the Anti-Bullying Helpline on 0131 651 6100, or write to Anti-Bullying Network, Moray House Institute of Education, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ.
Childline counsels 1,000,000th child
23 November 1999: the UK childrens' charity Childline reported this week that it had received its one millionth call since its inception in 1986. About a quarter of all calls are from children suffering abuse and violence, often at the hands of parents or family members. The number of calls about bullying has grown dramatically from 753 in 1986 to over 22,000 in 1998/9. In response to growing interest, Childline has just upgraded its web site.
100,000 UK children run away from home each year
11 November 1999: a report by the Childrens Society reveals that in the UK around 100,000 children under 16 run away from home each year. Nearly 1 in five runaways are under 11 years old. Approximately three quarters of all runaways are running away for the first time. The report suggests emotional problems and relationship problems including conflict, violence, abuse and bullying as the likely primary causes.
5 November1999: East Brighton College of Media Arts have installed spy cameras in both girls' and boys' toilets in an attempt to deter smoking, graffiti and bullying. Principal Anthony Garwood was at pains to point out that the cameras were focused on the toilet "circulation areas", rather than toilet cubicles or urinals. It was unclear whether spy cameras were also installed in the staff room and staff toilets for similar reasons.
Scottish children get legal advice
25 October 1999: In a proactive move ahead of their English and Welsh counterparts, leaflets are being distributed throughout Scotland by the Law Society of Scotland advising children of their legal rights and that they don't have to put up with bullying. The leaflets also provide information for adults being abused at home or bullied at work. This action follows Edinburgh City Council's instruction in early September that all schools in the city must record incidents of racism and bullying.
School bullying case payout
20 October 1999: In the case of Carnell v North Yorkshire County Council, the defendants have paid £6,000 into court to settle an action involving pupil bullying at Harrogate Grammar School. This is the first legal victory since September when it became mandatory for schools to have bullying policies. "We're delighted that the LEA decided they were not prepared to back the school," said Mrs Liz Carnell, founder of the website Bullying Online. "This should send a clear message to all school governors, and those at Harrogate Grammar School in particular, that they have a responsibility to know when complaints of bullying are made and that they should sort them out."
You can join a discussion on this case - click the thread Bullying at Harrogate Grammar School. John Carnell was invited to appear on Kilroy on Tuesday 9 November 1999.
In 1998 Harrogate Grammar School applied for but failed to achieve Investors in People accreditation. The report of the IiP assessor said that staff made comments about "bullying" and "autocratic" top management, adding: "There appears to be a degree of fear in voicing concerns, making objective observations and suggestions."
In November 1996, Sebastian Sharp, 20, won an out-of-court settlement of £30,000 for four years of bullying whilst he was at Shene School, Richmond, London. Mr Sharp said he was regularly insulted, kicked and punched by other pupils, who also tied him up with string in a 4-year campaign starting when he was 11. The London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames said it wanted to contest the allegation vigorously but the Borough's insurance company "wanted to avoid a costly and time-consuming court process".
Schools must have anti-bullying
From 1 September 1999, all UK schools are legally required to have an anti-bullying policy. See the DfEE website and use the search facility, or see Appendix B: the legal framework for school discipline.
See my pages on child bullying and school bullying and action to tackle bullying at school. Organisations and websites dealing with child bullying and school bullying are on the links page. Or see BBC News Online and use the search facility for "bullying"
Where now at School Bully OnLine?
Information on child bullying and bullying at school
School Bully OnLine Home Page | School bullying
Information for parents and teachers on child bullying
List of children who have died or been driven to suicide by bullying
Bullying myths | Who is responsible?
Answers to frequently asked questions
Child and school bullying news | Terrorism in the playground
Mobile phone bullying | Truancy | Bullying and special education
Bullying of gifted children | Educating your child at home
Action to tackle child and school bullying
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Links to organisations tackling school bullying
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Bullycide - the secret toll | Media reviews and reader feedback
Neil Marr and Tim Field's book Bullycide: death at playtime reveals
the hidden epidemic of child suicide caused by bullying and harassment
The authors Neil Marr and Tim Field
The Field Foundation | Bully OnLine
Workplace bullying | School bullying | Family bullying
Bullying news | Bullying case histories
Bullying resources | Press and media centre
Stress, PTSD and psychiatric injury
Action to tackle bullying | Related issues
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The spiritual meaning within trauma