Headlines: February 14th, 2008

A report published today looks in detail at the extent of bullying experienced by children and young people living away from home or using social care services. In spite of anti-bullying campaigns two thirds of the young people in the study say bullying is getting worse.

“Children on Bullying” has been produced by the Children’s Rights Director of England, Dr Roger Morgan, and follows consultations with young people in children’s homes, residential special schools, residential family centres, adoption placements, boarding schools and foster care or who are getting help from the children’s social care services of their local council and care leavers – a group which had raised the issue of bullying as a major problem. Dr Morgan says the findings show there are both worrying messages and hopeful signs in their responses.

The report says despite campaigns and increased awareness of the problem, two-thirds of the group say bullying is becoming worse and almost half believe it is becoming a lot worse. Just over half could not think of anything that might have saved them the last time they were bullied.

About 40 per cent of youngsters said they had been victims of electronic bullying, including receiving threatening text messages or mobile phone calls or by having an embarrassing message circulated electronically. The study also reveals that social networking sites have become platforms for bullies to post threatening or intimidating material. On the other hand, four out of ten reported never worrying about bullying and a quarter of those who had been bullied say they are coping by talking to an adult. Almost half confide in friends and about a third turn to school staff and parents. On another positive note, more than half ofr espondents said action by adults when they knew of bullying did help to stop the problem.

Children and young people who took part in discussion groups as part of the study said bullying could bring friends together to defend each other and teach people how to cope when things are going wrong. Others said they carried a knife or bottle to protect them.

Dr Morgan said, “We’ve used their invaluable responses to help those who work directly with this group to gain greater understanding of the kind of issues faced by children and young people today.”