Battling the bullies

SUFFOLK education experts have today welcomed the launch of the first national anti-bullying week. Olympic champion Kelly Holmes and England footballer Rio Ferdinand have joined with ministers and charities today to launch the initiative and feature in a new video to be screened on national TV over the next seven days.

SUFFOLK education experts have today welcomed the launch of the first national anti-bullying week.

Olympic champion Kelly Holmes and England footballer Rio Ferdinand have joined with ministers and charities today to launch the initiative and feature in a new video to be screened on national TV over the next seven days.

The stars are seen reading lines from a poem written by a bullying victim.

The film is part of a series of events aimed at encouraging children, parents and schools to work together to beat bullying.


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Steve Wooldridge, anti-bullying campaigner and former deputy head at Ipswich's Chantry High School, welcomed the news.

He said: "Bullying makes the lives of children a total misery. Youngsters find excuses not to go to school and become housebound with fear.

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"Their education and family life is disrupted The long term effects of chronic bullying are known to affect a person's psyche as they feel they are a victim all their lives."

Five years ago Mr Wooldridge set up CHUMS, Chantry High Upper school Mentoring Scheme, which trains pupils to be a friend and counsellor to peers who are suffering at the hands of bullies.

Today, from his home in Ipswich, Mr Wooldridge and his partner run the Anti Bullying Consultancy which trains teachers how to deal with the issue and trains people to become peer supporters.

He said: "Any initiative that tackles bullying is welcome. This highlights the issue among parents schools and pupils which has to be a good thing.

"I particularly like the involvement of personalities which youngsters can identify with."

Mr Wooldridge, himself a victim of bullying as a 14 year-old schoolboy, said the campaign highlights the ways in which bullies work.

He said: "This campaign pushes the fact that bullying is a power game and that bullies power is based on secrecy.

"That cycle of power has to be broken and the best way it to tell someone and talk about it."

David Oliver, headteacher at Stowmarket High School said: "Any school that tells you it had no bullying is lying. Children are children and they can be horrible. I am delighted that there is an anti-bullying drive.

"Anything that brings bullying out into the open is a good thing."

The government estimates that one in three children are bullied at some point during their secondary school careers and a quarter of all primary school children will be victims of bullying.

As part of the campaign, BBC Radio One will air messages from DJs and pop stars.

And children will be encouraged to wear a wristband as a sign of their determination to beat bullying and to support victims.

Later in the week, schools minister Stephen Twigg will publish information to help schools tackle homophobic bullying in particular.

Mr Twigg said: "We want all young people to 'make a stand and wear a band'.

"Wearing the band will give young people the opportunity to make a visible commitment that they are not prepared to tolerate bullying and will stand by their friends."

Education Secretary Charles Clarke set out plans last week to encourage schools to adopt a "statement of expectations" setting out how pupils should behave.

This statement should contain a "zero tolerance" policy on bullying.

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Racism, prejudice and the 'I'm bigger than you' attitude are all bullying and unacceptable in any school, on any playground, on any street."

n Have you been affected by bullying? Do you think schools are doing enough? Should the government be doing more? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Weblinks www.abcservices.org.uk

National Children's Bureau Anti-Bullying Alliance www.ncb.org.uk/aba/

MORE than two-thirds of parents are worried about bullying in their child's school, according to a poll published today.

Almost half, 45 per cent, said they were "very concerned" about the issue.

Nearly nine out of 10 said they think schools and teachers need more support to tackle the problem, the poll published for national anti-bullying week found.

Alison O'Brien, chair of the Anti-Bullying Alliance and education advisor for children's charity NSPCC, said it was understandable that parents wanted reassurances.

She said: "For their part, teachers want to tackle bullying effectively but they sometimes need back-up in dealing with such a complex issue.

"We hope that Anti-Bullying Week will kick start activity in schools and motivate those working with children to look at methods which are proven to be successful."

Esther Rantzen, president of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, which includes charities, local councils and experts, said bullying was "not an unavoidable fact of life".

She added: "It is harmful and it damages lives. But children do not have to suffer in silence, you can stop it. By working together, we make childhood a safer and happier experience for everyone."

The poll questioned 424 parents about their attitudes to bullying.

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