The Telegraph is reporting that as 10m children return to school this week, a YouGov poll for the Diana Award found that four in ten children are so badly picked on at school it has affected their grades and left them frightened of putting their hands up in class.
Experts warn that despite laws and procedures being introduced to stamp out bullying in schools, it has become “normalised” and remains a major issue.
Dr Elizabeth Nassem, whose research at Birmingham City University focuses on the topic, says that bullying tends to be oversimplified and those in authority seek to punish the individual rather than addressing the root causes.
“They way it is being dealt with is by children being put into isolation, into detention, but they are not being asked what they have done wrong or why, the root causes are not being addressed,” she said. “We need to listen to the children.”
The poll, which questioned 1,003 secondary-age children, found more than half (51%) said it meant they were afraid to put their hand up in class whilst 40% of said they had been bullied for their academic ability.
It also found that 39% said bullying had affected their grades, 38% said they had missed school because they were so frightened of bullies. More than a fifth (22%) said bullying had become so intense that they had been forced to change schools.
Alex Holmes, deputy chief executive of the Diana Award, said: “Bullying is something we haven’t got a grip on as a country. It’s a problem that we know won’t go away but there are things we can put in place that show you can make schools easier and happier places to be.”
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