Would a national policy cut bullying in Wales?

As reported by the BBC, education leaders in Wales are considering the positive effects of a national anti-bullying strategy – such as the one currently in place in Finland

According to professor Judy Hutchings, a professor at Bangor University, school bullying would be reduced if a national strategy was in place.

Favouring a country-wide strategy rather than individual school policies could see bullying drop – Hutchings herself claims bullying in Finland has decreased as a result of this change.

Banger University introduced this programme – called KiVa – to Finland, and the first 14 schools involved in the scheme reported a 40% fall in bullying incidents. As a result, 123 more schools have signed up to the scheme.

Currently, one in 10 secondary pupils in Wales is bullied in a weekly basis, according to the Schools Health Research Network.

Now, the Welsh government is planning to review the guidance it offers schools on how to combat bullying.

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales, professor Sally Holland, also believes a national policy would work better; she said that statutory recording of incidents would make heighten accountability.

The scheme currently growing in popularity in Finland aims to not victim-blame – instead, it focuses on the behaviours of bullies and bystanders.

Allyson Whitticase, head teacher at Rhiw Bechan in Newtown, Powys, would like to see it rolled out across Wales.

“I feel passionately about mental health in children, we have an awful lot of children who are anxious these days,” she said.

“Later in life they will be able to recognise bullying, whether in workplace or in further education, they will have the strategies to know how to deal with that and hopefully that will protect their mental health and wellbeing.”

Hutchings said current anti-bullying policies are ineffective “because [they are] a piece of paper in somebody’s office.”

Holland added: “I don’t want parents to be put off sending the children to some schools because they seem to have high levels of bullying.

“If schools are recognising bullying they may end up recording higher levels than schools that aren’t and as a parent myself I would be more confident in schools that recognised bullying was going on than one that swept it under the carpet.”

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