Bullying In Scottish Schools "Getting Worse"
6 July 2017, 06:22 | Updated: 6 July 2017, 06:24
A Holyrood committee has called on the Scottish Government to do more to tackle bullying in Scottish schools.
MSPs said they were "gravely concerned'' by the extent and seriousness of bullying after taking evidence on the issue.
The Scottish Parliament's Equalities and Human Rights Committee said its inquiry had uncovered "a real sense that prejudice-based bullying is on the increase''.
Its report concluded racism "has made a resurgence'', gender-based bullying and harassment "appears to be commonplace'', and bullying towards young lesbian or gay people "is still prevalent''.
The committee has made 29 recommendations, among them measures it wants the Scottish Government to adopt in its forthcoming refreshed anti-bullying strategy.
These include a preventative approach to bullying, improved research to understand the extent and nature of the problem, mandatory recording of bullying incidents and more training for teachers.
The government and councils are also urged to "ensure that consent and healthy relationships be taught from the beginning of primary school in an age-appropriate manner to safeguard children'' amid evidence of children as young as 12 being coerced into sexual activity.
Committee convener Christina McKelvie said: "Over the last eight months, our committee has been listening to the voices of our children and young people, and their advocates.
"We heard some gut-wrenching and heartbreaking stories.
"One stark reminder of the reality faced by far too many bullied young people is that 27% of LGBT children have attempted suicide.
"We have also heard of some inspiring and great practice going on around Scotland - and there are schools where bullying is now seen as not cool.
"We are trying to bottle that attitude change and roll it out across the whole country.''
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government welcomes the report on bullying by the Equalities and Human Rights Committee and will carefully consider its recommendations and views.
"Bullying of any kind is unacceptable.
"That is why it is important for all schools and local authorities to have anti-bullying policies in place, and it is vital that local authorities and teachers challenge any racist, homophobic and abusive behaviour in our schools.
"The Scottish Government funds its national anti-bullying service, respectme, to support children, young people and their parents.
"This works with schools and communities to build confidence and the capacity to address bullying effectively.''