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SCHOOL CHILDREN FEAR BULLYING AND VIOLENCE, REVEALS MAJOR POLL

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More than a third of school pupils (36%) have been bullied in the past twelve months, a quarter (26%) have been thr...
More than a third of school pupils (36%) have been bullied in the past twelve months, a quarter (26%) have been threatened with violence in school and 13% have been physically attacked, according to a major survey by the 150,000-strong Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

The survey of 2,600 pupils aged 11 to 16 in England and Wales was conducted by leading opinion pollsters, MORI, for ATL and is published today as delegates arrive in Belfast for the start of the association's annual conference.

Conference delegates will be debating the issue of social inclusion on Wednesday (19 April) and will be disturbed to hear that 30% of pupils feel their teachers are not aware of bullying in school while one in eleven (9%) report that they have missed school because of their fear of violence.

Younger pupils are twice as likely to experience bullying than older pupils. More than half of 11 year olds (51%) report incidents compared to a quarter of 15 and 16 year olds (26%). However, older pupils are more likely to feel their teachers are not aware of bullying with two in five pupils (41%) believing this to be the case.

The same survey also found that pupils' concerns for personal safety extended beyond the school gates as a quarter (26%) said they are worried about travelling to and from school. Girls are more likely than boys to be concerned about safety as 30% said they hold such fears compared to 22% of boys.

Girls are also more worried about violence (44 per cent compared to 39% of boys) even though boys are more likely to have been threatened (33% compared to 19% of girls) while three times as many boys than girls (19% boys, 6% girls) report being physically attacked at school.

Regional variations reveal that schools in the North West have been more successful in tackling bullying than elsewhere. Just under two-thirds of pupils (62%) said they had never been bullied while nearly three quarters (73%) believe their teachers are aware of the issue.

However, bullying appears to be more widespread in the Midlands as 43% of pupils reveal that they have been victims. Pupils in Wales are the most likely to receive threats of violence as 31% said this had happened to them in the preceding twelve months. The south west witnessed slightly more actual attacks as 16% of pupils reported incidents.

Commenting on the survey, Peter Smith, general secretary of ATL, said: 'Schools do attempt to provide young people with a safe environment to learn. However, no matter how much a school tries to change its culture, bullying has a tendency to rear its ugly head. It seems that youngsters are now increasingly becoming victims of violence.

'These findings are shocking. If young people are worried about their personal safety while at school, this begs the question, how are they going to feel once they in the big wide world?'

Notes: The ATL survey was conducted by Market and Opinion Research International (MORI) in January and February 2000. 115 middle and secondary schools in England and Wales participated and 2,610 pupils returned questionnaires.

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