Printer Friendly

Family: Bullies will be hit in the pocket; Parents of pupils who attack or threaten their classmates could be fined up to pounds 1,000 under Government plans for school reforms. At the end of anti-bullying week Tim Ross looks at what has been achieved.

Byline: Tim Ross

Children and parents have been given their starkest warning to date that playground bullying will be tolerated no longer.

As Anti-Bullying Week draws to a close, the Government has unveiled tough new measures that will hit bullies and their families where it hurts the most - in the pocket - in an attempt to curb a growing tide of intimidation and verbal and physical abuse.

It comes after experts warned that a new sub-culture was emerging in schools throughout the UK where bullying was endemic.

Following what appears to be a significant surge of violent cases in schools, the Children's Commissioner for England, Professor Al Aynsley-Green, claimed nearly every child was affected by the problem.

Pupils will now be encouraged to lobby their schools to adopt the Government's Anti-Bullying Charter for Action.

Schools Minister Jacqui Smith said: "Bullying should never be tolerated in our schools, no matter what its motivation. Children must know what is right and what is wrong, and that there will be consequences for crossing the line.

"Our White Paper commitments will strengthen the authority of teachers, giving them the confidence to take firm action on all forms of bad behaviour.

"They will also send a strong message to parents that schools will not tolerate a failure to take responsibility for bullying behaviour, backed up by court-imposed parenting orders and parenting classes, with fines of up to pounds 1,000 if parents do not comply."

The White Paper also sets out plans to give teachers a "clear" right to discipline children and restrain them through reasonable force where necessary.

Last week, a bullied teenager who beat his best friend to death with a pool cue was found not guilty of his murder. Tommy Kimpton (19) killed 17-year-old Ben Williams after inviting him to stay the night at his house.

Kimpton admitted manslaughter but the jury cleared him of murder after hearing he had been bullied at school about his weight, thick glasses and big ears, and teased by Williams immediately before the attack.

The extent of bullying was graphically illustrated when 15year-old Natashia Jackman was attacked with a pair of scissors during lunch break at Collingwood College in Camberley, Surrey. She was stabbed in the chest, head and back near the school's science block and needed surgery for a punctured eyelid.

Natashia's father said she had been bullied in the past and called on the Government to give schools more power to deal with unruly pupils.

In a further indication of the new sub-culture, Danielle Price, aged 15, was treated in hospital for facial injuries after being attacked by a gang of "jealous" girls at her school in Neath, south Wales, after winning two awards for her academic achievements.

Last month Shanni Naylor, aged 12, needed 30 stitches to her face after she was slashed with a pencil sharpener blade during a lesson at her Sheffield school.

The victims of bullying are not only the children targeted by bullies. In fact, there is often a second tier of victims - the bullies' own families.

A recent study of calls to parenting charity Parentline Plus revealed that families fear they are losingcontrol and are struggling with stress. Some 80 per cent of bullies' parents identified high levels of conflict between parent and child, with 69 per cent of them talking about their child's anger and 77 percent mentioning problems at school. In addition, many of the parents said their child had been excluded from school, played truant, or was lying, stealing, smoking or using drugs.

Parentline Plus chief executive Dorit Braun says: "These findingsconcern us greatly. It is essential that when schools and communities develop policies to cut down on bullying, the families of bullies are recognised as needing responsive and appropriate help with their familylife and not further isolation." But bullying expert Professor Helen Cowie, director of the UK Observatory (, warns that bullying may start because of a child's family life.

"It's quite common that they come from families that are rather distant and controlling, with some domineering coming from a father or older brother, and harsh discipline."

She says children that might turn into bullies cope with such family life by cutting themselves off from their emotions and developing a cold, calculating approach.

"Often they're lacking in empathy," she says, "and they don't understand the effect their behaviour, and bullying, has on others."

Whatever the cause of bullying behaviour, there are two main types of bullies, says developmental psychologist Dr Michael Eslea.

There are leader bullies, who are quite Machiavellian and bully for status and to lead a gang, and follower bullies who are the leader's henchmen and bully because they don't know another way to interact with people.

In addition, there are bullies whohave been bullied themselves. Irrespective of the type of bully, if parents find out their child is bullying, Eslea says they should talk to the school and the child, making it clear that bullying is unacceptable.

"Peer pressure is what keeps them bullying," he says, "but if it's clear that their parents disapprove it can help, because some bullies don't know quite what effect their bullying is having and that realisation can break them out of the behaviour."

And child psychologist Michael Boulton says parents should help bullies learn to choose non-aggressive behaviour.

"The family should reinforce the idea that aggression isn't the answer.

"Parents should encourage their child to appreciate the difference between being assertive and being aggressive


Bullying will no longer be tolerated under new guidelines from the Government
COPYRIGHT 2005 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 26, 2005
Previous Article:Our ancestors were more attuned to the passing of the seasons; Astronomical notes for December by Gill Pilfold of the Birmingham Astronomical Society.
Next Article:Family: Fostering love and affection; It's a labour of love and fostering brings enormous rewards says Lisa Salmon But why don't more people do it.

Related Articles
pounds 1,000 FINE FOR BULLIES' PARENTS; Teachers get power to clamp down.
EDUCATION MATTERS: Zero tolerance for bullies, warns Smith.
Bullies get short shrift.
Schools take on bullies.
Bullied for his Geordie accent.
Together we can beat the school bullies; Schools Minister and Redditch MP Jacqui Smith writes for The Birmingham Post about bullying and what needs...
Schools unite to stop bullies.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters