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Every school should have a "bullying mentor"

September 17, 2007 6:06 PM

The Lib Dems believe every school should have a 'Bullying Mentor', a trained member of staff to counsel children who are the victims of bullying. The proposal was part of a package of measures aimed at tackling bullying in schools, including homophobic bullying, proposed by Bristol West MP Stephen Williams and passed by the Liberal Democrat Autumn conference today.

The motion also calls for:

  • Schools to be required to keep a record of each bullying incident, to create a reliable database, making it easier to tackle the problem
  • The Government to commission a study of general trends in bullying and the effectiveness of different anti-bullying strategies
  • Schools and pupils to agree a definition of bullying which specifically addresses homophobic, gender, racist, disability and faith-based bullying

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Schools Spokesperson, Stephen Williams MP said:

"Bullying doesn't just harm a child's school work, it damages lives.

"Bullying Mentors in each school would help deal with the consequences of bullying, while joint action between pupils and teachers would tackle the causes.

"The Government has thrown good money after bad on bullying because proper measures for monitoring incidents and the effectiveness of prevention schemes simply don't exist.

"Tackling bullying isn't just about school discipline. When children don't feel safe while learning it can lead to lower educational attainment, damaged self-esteem well into adult life as well as provoking self-harm and even suicide."

The motion passed today reads:

Action on Bullying

Conference notes that:

a) Bullying in schools is a growing problem which has a negative effect on the educational and social achievements of children and young people.

b) Bullying is regularly found to be the number one concern of parents and children.

c) Bullying has a deep impact on its victims, causing a wide range of problems from general unhappiness, poor concentration and low self-esteem to anxiety, depression, self-harm and even suicide.

d) Research shows that a third of pupils who truant do so because they are being bullied.

e) Bullying often takes place outside normal school hours and sites.

f ) There are consequences later in life for bullies and the community as bullies are more likely to have criminal convictions than non-bullies.

g) Schools and staff should feel confident in implementing a clear and consistent approach to dealing with bullying.

Conference condemns the lack of positive action in dealing with bullying and the fact that attempts to tackle bullying often focus on changing the behaviour of the victim without addressing the underlying social causes of bullying;

Conference believes that bullying should not be tolerated either within school or the wider community and that prevention as well as cure should inform the whole system.

Conference therefore calls for:

1. Support for guidance that schools, in conjunction with their pupils and the wider school community, should agree a definition of bullying based on minimum standards which specifically addresses homophobic, gender, racist, disability and faith-based bullying as well as more subtle forms of bullying such as exclusion from friendship groups.

2. Schools and their governors to develop anti-bullying policies which also take account of out-of-school bullying, to be reviewed every three years and include a robust complaints procedure.

3. Schools to be required to keep a record of bullying including the nature of the incident, thereby creating an accurate and reliable database of bullying and making it easier to tackle the problem.

4. A member of the Governing Body or school's senior management team to have specific responsibility for anti-bullying policy.

5. Each school to have a trained member of staff to counsel children who are the victims of bullying.

6. The Government to commission a long-term study of a number of schools, looking at both general trends in bullying and also the effectiveness of different approaches in different circumstances.