Additional reporting from Patrick Jack
Almost a quarter of parents whose child has been bullied in Kent say their school did not deal with the situation quickly or effectively enough.
A new survey shows tens of thousands of parents across the country expressed similar concerns as anti-bullying charities warn bullying can “devastate lives” and seriously affect a child’s well-being.
Ofsted asked 6,518 parents in the county if they agreed their school had dealt with bullying quickly and effectively enough between the start of the 2019-20 school year and April this year.
A total of 2,299 parents said the question applied to them, but 24% disagreed the school had acted swiftly and effectively enough.
More than half (52%) agreed with the statement, while the remaining 24% said they did not know.
In Kent, 6% of parents also said their child was not happy at their school, and 5% said their child did not feel safe.
Anti-bullying charity Bullies Out said no school can claim not to have any bullying. It estimates it affects half of all young people, but said that schools can help by dealing with incidents quickly and effectively.
More than 200,000 parents across England completed the survey and 28% said that their children’s school had not quickly or effectively dealt with bullying.
Linda James, the founder of Bullies Out, said: “Bullying is an issue of strategic, as well as operational, importance. It is not ‘kids being kids’ or ‘part of growing up’.
“It can devastate lives and seriously affect a person’s academic, social, emotional and physical well-being. For a school to reduce bullying, the emphasis must be placed on creating a culture of acceptance, tolerance and respect.”
She added that bullying can cause feelings of self-doubt, depression and even suicide, making it vital children and parents have confidence in schools to deal with the problem.
The proportion of parents who felt schools had not dealt well with bullying varies greatly across England, from just 14% in Leicester to 44% in Tameside, Greater Manchester.
Kidscape, an organisation that helps children cope with bullying, said this “extremely varied” response is a result of an increasingly independent school system, with parents struggling to hold schools to account for not taking action.
Chief executive Lauren Seager-Smith said: “As an anti-bullying charity that supports children and families impacted by bullying, we are regularly in contact with children who do not feel safe in school, and parents who are frustrated by the lack of school action to address bullying.”
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Schools should be safe places where children are taught to respect each other and staff.
“The government has sent a clear message to schools that bullying, whether it is in the playground or online, is unacceptable. It can have a devastating effect on individuals, harm their education and have serious and lasting consequences for their mental health.
“All schools are legally required to have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying, and have the freedom to develop their own anti-bullying strategies and monitor approaches to best suit their environment.”
Published at Mon, 06 Jul 2020 03:27:00 +0000