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Report highlights ‘gut-wrenching’ bullying in Scottish schools – BBC News

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Human rights should be taught from the earliest age possible to change attitudes to bullying, according to a Holyrood committee.

MSPs on the Equalities and Human Rights Committee said more needed to be done to attack the issue in colleges.

Committee convener Christina McKelvie said it’d discovered “gut-wrenching” evidence from young people during its inquiry into the issue.

But she stressed there was already some “motivational” work.

The committee’s report stated it had discovered “a true sense that prejudice-based bullying is rising”.

It concluded that racism “has made a resurgence”, gender-based harassment and bullying “appears to be trivial”, and bullying towards youthful lesbian or gay people “remains prevalent”.

‘Healthy relationships’

The committee also has made 29 recommendations, among them measures it wants the Scottish authorities to adopt in its coming refreshed anti-bullying strategy.

These include a preventative strategy to bullying, improved research to understand the extent and nature of the issue, mandatory recording of bullying incidents and more training for teachers.

The authorities and councils will also be urged to “ensure that approval and healthy relationships be educated from the beginning of first school in an age-appropriate way to safeguard children” amid evidence of children as young as 12 being coerced into sex.

The Scottish authorities welcomed the report and stated it might consider its recommendations carefully.

The committee had spent eight months listening to proof about bullying.

Ms McKelvie, an SNP MSP, said: “We discovered a few gut-wrenching and heartbreaking stories. 1 stark reminder of the reality faced by much too many bullied young folks is that 27 percent of LGBT children have attempted suicide.

“But we have also heard of some inspiring and good practice going on around Scotland – and there are schools in which bullying is now seen as not trendy.

“We are attempting to bottle that attitude change and roll it out throughout the entire nation.”

Susie McGuinness, a 19-year-old Glasgow University student, told her story of bullying and classroom harassment to MSPs while they had been taking evidence for its report.

She said: “I know from my own experience that there are instances of women who’ve been filmed being assaulted, and that there’s footage of rape going around schools rather than being reported or taken care of.

“People need to realise that sexual harassment and bullying of this type is happening to women aged 12 or 13. By first 6, I was sitting in classes in which boys were carrying it in turns to yell ‘rape’ the loudest and I’m not alone.”

‘Individual dignity’

The children’s commissioner for Scotland, Bruce Adamson, stated the report was a “call to action” for the authorities.

“Bullying impacts children in a number of ways,” he said.

“It cuts right to the center of their individuality and their individual dignity but in addition, it has an impact on their access to additional rights – such as their capacity to have a complete education, to engage in cultural activities to participate in playing.

“And as we have seen from this particular report, and a few of the really strong evidence given, it’s a real impact on things such as their health including their mental health.

“At the most intense we see issues where it really engages the right to life where quite a few children, especially children from the LGBTI community, have contemplated suicide – so this is a true call to action .”

A Scottish authorities spokeswoman said it funds its federal anti-bullying service, Respectme, to support children, young people and their parents.

She added: “Bullying of any sort is unacceptable.

“That is precisely why it is essential for all schools and local governments to possess anti-bullying policies in place and it is essential that local governments and educators challenge any racist, homophobic and violent behavior in our universities.”

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