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Bullying defeated?

April 2009

David Aaronovitch, a normally well-informed columnist, wrote in The Times on 17 March 2009 that bullying had been “defeated.” Where did he get that idea?

This blog is written in cold anger, not for me but for the thousands of children with special educational needs who day after day and month after month are bullied in mainstream schools. This is not an argument against mainstream education for children with special educational needs. It is an argument for special schools as an approved alternative.

I quote from a report; The Bullying of Children with Learning Disabilities- ENABLE Scotland 20075

‘Our work with our Young People’s Self Advocacy Groups has revealed that bullying is also an important issue for children and young people with learning disabilities. We joined forces with Mencap to undertake UK wide research to find out the scale and nature of the problem and most importantly to tell us more about how to stop it. We knew that bullying of children with learning disabilities existed. We knew that it is widespread and has a significant effect on children’s lives. However, we were shocked by the results that the survey revealed. We could not have predicted the scale of the problem, ie’

  • The sheer numbers of children who were bullied.
  • The persistence of bullying throughout childhood.
  • The failure of adults to stop bullying when it is reported.
  • The range of places where bullying takes place
  • The effects bullying has on the emotional state of children.
  • The social exclusion faced by children who are afraid to go out.

Bullying is not just a part of growing up. ENABLE Scotland believes that no child should have to put up with bullying and that we all have a responsibility to ensure that this stops. 93% of children with learning disabilities have been bullied 46% of children with learning disabilities have been physically assaulted. Half have been bullied persistently for more than two years.’

Now we have cyber bullying too. One parent said to me that she would gladly let an LEA official look after her son for a week so he could see what it was like, dealing with its consequences.

If you haven’t read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, I urge you to do so. Bullying starts in the nursery, and I am not sure that it ever stops.

We are told that the authorities know about it in schools and that they are dealing with it. They have appointed a Bullying Czar. There are school “buddies.” And it is a learning experience kids all have got to go through. “It is not a good reason for preferring a special school.”

If that is what you think, bully for you.