Sunday, 28 October 2007
Beating the bullies
Whether bullying is exaggerated or not, as one expert claims in today's Observer, there is a bigger problem. That is the reluctance to sanction punishment for bullies. Tony Blair and Jacqui Smith (as schools minister) rightly insisted that the so-called 'No Blame' response to bullies had no place in school strategies, yet many of the so-called anti-bullying charities are reluctant unambiguously to recognise the importance of punishment for severe cases of bullying, preferring the dangerous and unrealistic idea that victims should confront their tormentors, a practice possibly appropriate for five year-olds but crazy for fifteen year-olds. While charities like Childline - whose patron Esther Rantzen uttered more pieties on the subject on the Andrew Marr show this morning - are more concerned that schools have anti-bullying policies than ensuring that those policies are clear in the sanctions that bullies will face, we will never get to grips with the problem, whether or not its extent is exaggerated.