Children’s Champion Daphne Caine has called for more to be done to monitor and deal with incidents of bullying in schools.
Garff MHK Mrs Caine raised the issue in the House of Keys this week when she cited the results of a Youth Survey, which showed 28 per cent of young people claimed they had been bullied in the previous 12 months.
Member for education Ann Corlett said: ’The department acknowledges that there are incidents of bullying in our schools, and we must continue to take these matters seriously.
’Robust and consistent sanctions are applied and form part of the school’s wider approach to tackling challenging behaviour. It must be said, however, that the behaviour of the vast majority of students is excellent.’
Mrs Caine asked: ’Is the member satisfied that the department is addressing the issue, where parents and children are not satisfied that bullying is being dealt with properly?
Mrs Corlett said she shared her concerns. She said: ’The effects of bullying can last a lifetime. Those who are persistently bullied are particularly vulnerable. It can damage emotional health and well-being.
’Are things perfect? No, they are not. Could we do better? Yes, I believe we can.’
The Youth Trust, an independent charity, conducted a biennial survey in November and December of 2015. More than 1,000 young people took part. Of those, some 221 said schools were not good at dealing with bullying.
Of these, 28 per cent said they had been bullied in the past year, 20 per cent were bullied most days and 20 per cent of those bullied told no one.
A total of 18 per cent of the young people were not happy with how the education department was dealing with bullying.
The next youth survey will take place in November, said Mrs Corlett.
Jason Moorhouse (Arbory, Castletown and Malew) asked what was being done to counter the rise of cyber-bullying. ’Given the changing nature of bullying, should the department take on responsibility for that aspect of education?’ he asked.
Mrs Corlett replied: ’Schools are trying to address that with cyber-bullying policies. Should we take it on? We cannot take on the whole responsibility of it. It has a social aspect to it. I think it involves us all: parents, adults, everybody really.’
She said head teachers had been asked to consider ways that information can be gathered and monitored centrally so that trends and patterns can be evaluated.
Dr Alex Allinson (Ramsey) pointed out that the vast majority of online bullying takes place outside school and outside school hours and parents had a role to educate their children about how to behave online.