Council pledges to crack down on bullies

ANGUS Council has warned that it will take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to cyber bullies who do their utmost to make the lives of fellow pupils and even teachers a misery.

The local authority kept a record of cyber bullying incidents in 2009/10 and has subsequently revealed that 32 incidents in total were investigated by the council over the course of the year.

A total of 22 incidents were reported to have happened in secondary schools but a further 10 occurred in primary schools.

Member of the Angus Council education committee Councillor Donald Morrison has urged the local authority to continue their efforts in the fight against cyber bullying.

Councillor Morrison said: “Cyber bullying through social network sites is a worrying national problem and Angus schools are required to collect the number of reported incidents.

“Any type of bullying be it cyber, verbal or physical, must be taken seriously because it causes so much suffering for victims, who can often feel isolated even from their own friends and family because, despite more support in place, there remains a stigma surrounding reporting incidents.

“With the first year figures now collated, 32 reported incidents at Angus schools in 2009/10 is still 32 too many and show that Angus Council must continue their efforts in tackling bullying.”

The figures for this school year have been collected and are currently being collated.

The calls by Councillor Morrison are being reinforced with calls by Family Lives, a national parenting and family support charity, to tackle the cyber bullying problem.

Family Lives chief executive Jeremy Todd said: “Cyber bullying is a real concern to families and parents of bullied children who often find the situation traumatic and difficult to manage.

“Family Lives has noticed an increase in e-mails and calls from concerned parents, families and supporters.

“Cyber bullying platforms ensure that children who are bullied have no respite as online and other social media permeates the school and home environment.

“Bullying in schools is a real concern to families and parents of bullied children.

“Some families may find it difficult to report cyber bullying to the school concerned and parents should contact Family Lives, or visit if they need support.”

The Bullying UK website recently conducted a survey about cyber bullying. It was found that 43.5 per cent of respondents had been bullied via social networking sites such as Facebook. A further 51 per cent said that blocking a bully from their contact list was a vital tool and 68 per cent would like facilities within the site to report any bullying.

A council spokeswoman said: “Angus Council has a zero tolerance policy towards all bullying behaviour in its schools, providing clear guidance and advice to schools on dealing with bullying incidents.

“All of our schools are required to involve and consult the school community in order to devise, publicise and implement their own school anti-bullying policy.

“We have ongoing staff development opportunities on themes around bullying and cyber bullying is a key element of this work.

“If cyber bullying is reported the matters are investigated, resolved and individuals are supported.

“We treat all bullying very seriously.”