Today – Thursday 7 July the Equalities and Human Rights Committee made recommendations to the Scottish Government, following its inquiry into Bullying and Harassment of children and young people in Scottish Schools. The report can be accessed here.
Our statement in response to the Committee’s recommendations can be viewed below:
Director of respectme, Katie Rafferty said:
“Bullying in all its forms is unacceptable. No child should be made to feel threatened or anxious by bullying behaviour – an experience that can have far-reaching and long- lasting consequences on their lives.
The Equalities and Human Right’s Committee’s Inquiry into bullying and harassment has raised very concerning issues and we welcome their work. The Inquiry thorough and consultative and we welcome its recommendations.
Early intervention is essential to teaching children and young people the values of respect, inclusion and fairness, and to equip them with the practical skills to develop mutually healthy and respectful relationships.
And this includes creating environments from the earliest possible stage, where diversity is celebrated and valued. Where racist, homophobic, gender-based and all other forms of prejudice-based bullying are effectively challenged, and where all schools and youth settings explicitly commit to challenging prejudice-based bullying. Our 2014 research showed that the most successful anti-bullying initiatives are embedded within a positive ethos and culture and don’t just focus on individual incidents.
While schools and other organisations who work with children have a role to play, we shouldn’t forget that parents and carers play a vital role for both children who bully and those being bullied. Work to address bullying needs to take into account the strong influence parents and carers have on children’s lives and harness this to establish positive environments, and mirror those being developed in schools and other settings.
We agree with the Committee that recording bullying incidents will help us build a better picture of where and how children and young people experience bullying in Scotland and identify trends in bullying behaviour. However, data shouldn’t be used to rank organisations or make decisions about how well they are addressing bullying. We need to remember that recording and monitoring data in itself does not change behaviour. Rather, it should be used to inform the preventative measures and interventions that can.
While it’s clear that there is still much to be done around anti-bullying in Scotland, it’s important to recognise the good work that is being carried out within schools and local authorities. respectme will continue to work with schools and other organisations who work with young people to deliver training and resources, to give adults the practical skills and confidence to deal with bullying behaviour.
We look forward to the publication of Respect for All , which is crucial to ensuring that children and young people across Scotland receive appropriate and consistent responses to bullying behaviour.”