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Bullying drives 600 kids to sue their school bosses; PLAYGROUND HELL LEADS TO COURT STAMPEDE.


HUNDREDS of children across Wales are suing education authorities for failing to protect them from bullies, a solicitor claimed yesterday.

Mike Charles says up to 600 children are taking legal action - and almost every Welsh local education authority (LEA) has cases pending against it.

Many cases involve claims of horrific brutality, while others concentrate on alleged verbal cruelty.

In one case, a girl of six tried to kill herself to escape bullying.

In another, a boy of five was sent home by teachers after his ear was almost ripped off in an attack.

Mr Charles, of Cardiff-based law firm Sinclairs, is involved in more than 100 lawsuits in which the families of children are suing LEAs.

He said: "I have a massive case load and most are against local education authorities.

"I don't encourage families to litigate and actually think the explosion of cases creates a very unhealthy culture in our society.

"But it is a major issue and the cases are legitimate and shocking."

Mr Charles said his is one of three law firms in Wales dealing with most of the country's bullying cases.

He said: "I would say that between us we have in the region of 500 to 600 cases where bullying is the main issue.

"Schools in the past have always worked on the basis that the law ends at their school gates.

"But the law applies to each and every one of us.

"The vast majority of our clients are not after compensation but want school bullying sorted out.

"I have dealt with some very nasty cases, but the ones that really anger me are when disabled children are bullied. I have had to deal with a number of those."

During the next month Mr Charles will issue a damages claim for pounds 25,000 against an LEA over a case involving a girl of six who tried to commit suicide after being victimised by other children.

He said: "She kept saying she wanted to die. How can that be allowed to happen?" All schools in the UK are now supposed to have anti-bullying policies.

But ministers admit not all are implementing them.

Now education chiefs are facing a multi-million pound compensation bill from pupils. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers warned that schools were playing a dangerous game if they failed to take bullying seriously. He said: "If a school takes no or inadequate action against bullying, then they are extremely vulnerable.

"The LEA may face substantial damages and their reputation could be badly hit."
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 25, 2003
Previous Article:Mummy I wish I was dead so I won't suffer any more; BULLIED NINE-YEAR-OLD'S HEARTBREAK DIARY.

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