Children’s Commissioner shines a light on children and young people’s experiences of bullying in Wales and calls for a radical overhaul of how it’s tackled and recorded.
The lack of consistency in how schools and authorities are handling and reporting cases of bullying in schools is leading to some children feeling isolated and others unsure of what to do if they are aware of others being bullied. This is a key finding of a large scale consultation with over 2000 children and young people and nearly 300 professionals led by my office.
This consultation, the results of which are published (18 July) as ‘Sam’s Story’ – explored with children in primary and secondary schools and in community settings across the country, their feelings and experiences of bullying. The results are all too familiar. Being seen as ‘different’ in terms of appearance, interests or identity are major factors behind why children are being bullied. Unsurprisingly, cyber-bullying is also a major concern, especially for pupils at secondary schools.
In 2015 bullying was seen as the top priority by 6000 children surveyed in my Beth Nesa’|What Next consultation. The Sam’s Story project has explored children, young people’s and education professionals experiences in more depth.
Key findings from over 2000 children and young people
Difference is seen by children as a key issue in bullying. This includes issues such as ethnicity, poverty, disability and gender stereotyping
Isolation is another cause of bullying: this is portrayed as children with no friends and sometimes new to the school.
Parents are often seen as unresponsive or ineffective.
A trusted person to talk to seems to be a key pathway to deal with bullying and often, that trusted person is a teacher.
Key findings from nearly 300 professionals working with children and young people
Consistency; a number expressed a wish for more consistency across schools within local authority areas and across Wales as a whole. The material collected suggests a very diverse and uneven picture.
Monitoring: participants noted there was no standard or consistent national system for monitoring instances of bullying.
Nature of bullying: whilst there were certain typical characteristics that made a child more vulnerable to being bullied, there was also a very wide range of possible factors and that this was a complex issue.
Definition of bullying: recurring theme was the importance of clarity about what bullying is.
During the consultation my team and I came across many excellent examples of schools taking a whole-school approach to enable children to develop healthy relationships and to tackle bullying when it occurs. I would like every child in Wales to have this experience.
Included in the report are a series of priorities for improvement for schools, local authorities, teacher training institutions, Welsh Government and for my team and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Enclosed is an embargoed copy of ‘Sam’s Story’. I hope you will find it an interesting read and a useful insight into the lives of pupils in Wales experiencing bullying. We would, of course, welcome any feedback and/or support for ‘Sam’s Story’ following its publication on 18th July.
With best wishes
Children’s Commissioner for Wales