Headlines: November 17th, 2008

Schools need to be better at dealing with bullying, according to a children’s charity which says half of families who attend its support sessions for severely bullied children reported that their child had attempted suicide or contemplated taking their own life. The research has been conducted by the anti-bullying charity, Kidscape.

It surveyed 1,200 families attending its ‘ZAP’ assertiveness training sessions. Eighty-six per cent of respondents said the school had done nothing to stop the bullying and almost as many said they’d been told their child was “too sensitive”. The families were questioned in face-to-face sessions about how bullying had affected their lives.

One mother said the first she knew about her daughter attempting suicide was when she read a questionnaire the girl had completed before a ZAP course. She had tried to take her life three times. The girl is now educated at home. One father said he had been to his child’s school six times and each time he had been told there was no bullying at the school.

The charity is calling for improvements in the way bullying is dealt with in schools. Its director, Claude Knights said, “The results are disturbing, although not surprising. We have been running ZAP sessions for nearly 10 years and we are hearing the same stories over and over again. This research highlights the need to improve the way bullying is handled in schools so that every child can learn in a safe environment.”

The survey also found that more than two thirds of families had been labelled as over protective, paranoid, or too sensitive by schools and almost half said their children had played truant at least once because of bullying.