A newsletter featuring
Pupil Action Against Bullying
From a national conference in February 2001 organised by
the Anti-Bullying Network and Dundee City Council
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What can young people do?

A message from Cameron Wyatt of Bannerman High School, Glasgow, who was a member of the conference committee.

"Remember that action against bullying is not just for you but for every pupil in every school. You can make a difference. Don't simply rely on your teacher. You too can help others by applying the ideas in this newsletter to your school's situation. Bring these ideas to the attention of your head teacher, guidance staff or anyone who will listen.

The victims of bullying are often too scared to come forward. Their confidence has been sapped. Their ability to speak out removed.

You still have a voice. And, hopefully, this newsletter will remind you to use it".

Other members of the Conference Committee:
Craig Cheyne, Bannerman High School
Mark MacMillan, Dunblane High School
Helen Onslow, Dunblane High School
Aimee McKimmie, Dundee City Wide Pupil Council
Paul Cargill, Lawside Academy, Dundee
Stephanie MacGregor, Lawside Academy
David Bernard MSYP, Tynecastle High School
Sandy Clarke, Dundee City Council
Phillipa Prior, Anti-Bullying Network
Andrew Mellor, Anti-Bullying Network

What do you think?

Jack McConnell MSP, Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs, wants pupils in Scottish schools to give him their views about how bullying and poor discipline can be tackled. Send your ideas to the Anti-Bullying Network. We will make sure that Mr McConnell hears what you have to say.

"You have a large part to play to ensure that the bullies don't get away with their poisonous behaviour. Don't let them wreck your education. Don't let them wreck anyone else's. Let's all help each other to tackle this hard and head on.

I can tell you what we are doing to try and combat this scourge but I also want your views. I want to hear about your experiences and ideas, about the solutions you have for dealing with bullying and poor discipline. Whether it is bullying in the classroom, bullying in the playground, bullying in the corridors, bullying on the way to or from school. We are on the right road, but there is still a long way to go, and your ideas can help.

I believe every school must be a safe school. Every child is entitled to go through their school years without their experiences being blighted by bullying. But these are complex issues. Solutions will be many and varied and they will not be found overnight".

Question Time with Jack McConnell
A question and answer session with Mr Jack McConnell MSP, Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs took place at the conference. Here is a taste of what went on....

Q: Do you think that the Anti-Bullying Network is the best way to tackle bullying in our schools?
Steven Robbins, 17, Trinity Academy, Edinburgh
A: "The Anti-Bullying Network is doing some sterling work in supporting schools and authorities to share good practice. Today's conference is a good example. It also provides training and consultancy services to support schools and local authorities in developing anti-bullying strategies. Good ideas for tackling bullying should be shared between education authorities. All Scottish local authorities should avoid complacency about the problem."

Q: Solving the problem of bullying takes resources eg money, people, time. How would you propose to fund these?
Neil Paterson, 16, Buckie Community High School

A: "The SEED will monitor the effectiveness of anti-bullying schemes to ensure that funding is best spent. Throwing money at the problem is not necessarily the answer. I am pleased to announce the we (SEED) will continue to offer financial support to ensure the continuation of the ChildLine Anti-Bullying Helpline. This is a free confidential telephone helpline for any child or young person concerned about bullying."

Q: Have you ever experienced bullying at school or anywhere else?
Paul Eason, 15, Kirkland High School and Community College, Leven
A: Mr McConnell said that he had not been bullied at school but was aware of people who had. He said "The fact that none of us seemed to do very much about it when it was happening to them (other pupils) is something to be very much ashamed of. I don't mind admitting that now, 23 years on, and I hope that this generation of senior school pupils is a bit more responsible than mine was."

Q: What do you think is a suitable punishment for bullies?
Michelle Gilbert, 17, Trinity Academy, Edinburgh
A: In dealing with bullying, victims should be put first but perpetrators may need counselling as well as punishment. Experience has shown that punishment alone leaves the bully free to continue with his or her behaviour. Bullies should be encouraged to change for the sake of their schools and themselves.

Q: Do you think that there is a specific role that senior pupils can take on board to help create a positive atmosphere for junior students? If so, what?
Kerry Reid, 16, Buckie Community High School
A: "Peer support schemes are a welcome development. Involving pupils can have an immediate impact on the problem and has long term benefits in building better citizens for the future. Senior pupils can have a key role to play in supporting the younger ones."

We want to know your opinions and ideas about how schools can reduce bullying, so why not email us now?
Opinions and ideas were generated at the conference when delegates compared the anti-bullying policies and procedures in their own schools with a case study. Delegates then commented on the strengths and weaknesses of current anti-bullying policies, and were asked to make recommendations for the future.
 
A full report of delegates' views has been sent to Jack McConnell MSP and can be viewed here.
Here is some of what was said at the conference. What do you think?
Strengths
Some of the strengths of anti-bullying policies in some Scottish secondary schools were identified as:
- schools are now recognising bullying problems
- there is more communication than there used to be
Weaknesses
Some of the weaknesses of anti-bullying policies in some Scottish secondary schools were identified as:
- most schools tend to concentrate on 1st year pupils. What happens to 2nd, 3rd, 4th year pupils?
- weak, out-of-date policies, not distributed or discussed comprehensively
Recommendations
Some of the recommendations made by delegates:
- teachers and senior pupils should give up time - patrol corridor, earn respect - show presence
- guidelines to be set nationally by Scottish Executive (to include buddy scheme)
- need to keep statistics to measure progress
- need to have some more consideration/publicity about situation of teachers bullying pupils and pupils bullying teachers
- address racial issues - including Scottish nationalism against English
- better publicity - more 'in your face', use celebrities.

Vote in our online poll!
Does your school have good strategies for preventing bullying?
(Question for pupils and parents)
Results updated instantly!!

Five workshops took place at the conference. These allowed pupils and teachers from a number of schools to discuss approaches to dealing with bullying.

Childline peer counselling
(ChildLine Scotland)
ChildLine has a special project involving volunteer 16-19 year old counsellors. ChildLine also has exercises aimed at changing young people's attitudes to bullying and finding out what they feel about how this issue should be dealt with in schools.

Pupils take the lead in dealing with bullying
(Balerno High School)
Balerno High School has a long-standing peer support scheme which is run and managed by senior pupils. Staff offer support but allow the young people to take the lead in implementing and evaluating the scheme.

Tackling bullying by focusing on solutions
(Hermitage Academy)
S6 FAB (Friends Against Bullying) befrienders talked about their role in the school's anti-bullying policy. S1 and S3 pupils talked about their involvement in the FAB scheme.

Training peer supporters
(Carrick Academy)
For the past 6 years, S5/6 volunteers have been trained in interpersonal skills as part of the school's peer helper scheme. Pupils have been involved in evaluating and modifying the scheme.

A befriending service on the Intranet
(Kirkcudbright Academy)

Intranet befriending is a new system whereby pupils can e-mail S6 befrienders who have been trained to respond.

Feelings about bullying can be explored through music, drama and writing!
Drama by St Margaret Mary's RC
Secondary School, Glasgow
Music by Baldragon High School, Dundee

There was a debate of high quality on the motion "Bullying will never be reduced without meaningful pupil participation".
David Bernard, an MSYP from Edinburgh chaired the debate. The motion was proposed by David McLean and by Alix Thomson. It was opposed by James Peter Campbell and by Sarah Nisbet. The motion was overwhelmingly carried.