1. ITV Report

'Radical overhaul' needed in way bullying is tackled in Welsh schools

The Children's Commissioner for Wales has called for a 'radical overhaul' in how bullying is tackled and recorded in Welsh schools.

After taking part in a consultation with over 2000 young people and 300 professionals, the Commissioner has identified a lack of consistency in how schools and authorities are handling cases of bullying in schools.

Credit: PA

According to the results of the consultation, young people are feeling isolated the inconsistencies.

From what thousands of children have shared with me, there is absolutely no doubt that bullying can have a devastating impact on a child's life.

I have been particularly struck by the strength of the negative emotions in the pictorial and written data we've gathered, which reinforces how destructive bullying can feel for children.

– Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner for Wales

Being seen as 'different' in terms of appearance, interests or identity are identified as major factors behind why children are being bullied.

Cyber-bullying was identified as a major concern, especially for pupils at secondary schools.

Bullying is an age-old problem but I believe that we have the means and motivation to prevent and tackle it in 21st century Wales. We are at a critical time in relation to education in Wales, with the reform of the curriculum well underway and the long-standing guidance on bullying finally under review.

The purpose of this report is to highlight the real impact that being bullied is having on children's lives and to ensure these strong messages play a part in shaping the new curriculum, teacher training and the reform of anti-bullying guidance.

The good news is that there are encouraging whole-school approaches being adopted in many schools in Wales, such as the Kiva programme from Finland and Restorative Approaches. Additionally many secondary school students are taking the initiative to campaign and find solutions to identity based bullying such as homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia and racism. I would like every child and young person in Wales to be protected in these ways.

– Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner for Wales

The Commissioner has called on the Welsh Government to place a statutory duty on schools to record all incidences and types of reported bullying.

She has also called for schools to establish a preventative approach and enable children to recognise bullying behaviour at the earliest point.

Sam's Story highlights that too many children are bullied because of their race, faith, sexuality, gender, and other identities. Such identity based bullying can have long-lasting and serious impacts on a child's wellbeing, educational attainment and potential.

We welcome the recommendation from the Children's Commissioner to work collaboratively to raise awareness of the Public Sector Equality Duty to take effective action to understand, prevent and tackle identity based bullying, and to enable children and young people to feel safe and supported when it does occur

– Ruth Coombs, head of Wales at the Equality and Human Rights Commission