ANTI-BULLYING advisers should be employed by local councils to help to combat bullying in schools,
according to recommendations from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
The advisers would mediate in cases where parents complained that bullies were not being disciplined.
They would also dissuade bullies from abusing other pupils and provide advice for victims.
The new report, Bullying in Schools, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and to
be published this week, states that parents often find that head teachers dismiss allegations that a child
is being bullied. The new anti-bullying advisers would be selected and employed by local authorities.
The report recommends that the parents of a bullied child should have the right to a hearing before a
committee of school governors. It also wants new powers for the local government ombudsmen to intervene
in schools where discipline is a problem.
Professor Carolyn Hamilton, senior legal adviser to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, writes in
the report: “Some heads still respond to parents by rejecting the suggestion that there is any bullying in
“It may be alleged that the parent is overprotective or even a troublemaker. There may be hurtful
suggestions that the bullied child is oversensitive or antisocial.”
A DfES spokesman said the proposals would be examined by Alan Johnson, the education secretary. The
spokesman said: “While in the vast majority of cases of bullying, schools do an excellent job, we want
to ensure that every case is investigated thoroughly and that parents have an effective route of complaint
if they feel inadequate action has been taken.”
Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the children’s commissioner, said of the report: “There is evidence that the present
system is not satisfactory. Our proposals would lead to a more formal appeals process involving the
governors and above all an independent aspect which has been missing until now.”
Aynsley-Green was himself bullied as a 10-year-old when his family moved to London from Northumberland
and he was victimised because of his accent. He said that bullying is an “enormous problem” and he is
keen for it to be “on the front burner”.
He added that new technology meant bullies had new ways to make their victims’ lives miserable: “Until
recently, if children are being bullied at school, they could go home and be in a safe environment. Now
they can’t escape because they are bullied on their mobiles or by e-mail.”
Up to 70% of children have experienced bullying, according to a survey of 8,574 children released earlier
this month by the charity Bullying Online. Half of bullied pupils said they had been physically hurt. When
bullying was reported to a teacher, children said that in 55% of cases it did not stop.
A report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Bullying Today, said Muslim children had
experienced greater victimisation after the September 11 attacks in America and the July 2005 London
From: The Sunday Times of Nov. 19, 2006