29/08/2006

Childline reports increase in bullying

Children's charity Childline has reported an increase in the number of children seeking advice about bullying.

The NSPCC's free 24-hour helpline said that the number of children contacting them regarding bullying had increased by 12% over the past year - an extra 84 children per week.

Childline said that it had counselled 37,032 children about bullying between April 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006. A further 4,018 children had contacted them for other reasons, the organisation said, but had then gone on to talk about bullying.

Childline said that homophobic bullying was a "growing concern". The organisation said that a study of young people indicated that they felt "too many teachers do nothing about homophobic bullying", while many young people also feared telling their parents.

Childline said that those who contacted them regarding homophobic bullying felt "extremely lonely and isolated" and also felt that they had "nowhere else to turn".

Childline spokesperson Lindsey Gilbert said: "Right now, thousands of children are dreading going back to school because of the bullying they will face.

"Every school should have an anti-bullying charter but shielding children from bullying does not stop at the school gates; parents and carers can also play a role. Not only can parents help tackle bullying, they are also crucial to helping their child through what is often a terrifying and demoralising experience."

The NSPCC has released anti-bullying advice for parents ahead of the start of the new school year. The advice can be found at www.nspcc.org.uk

(KMcA/SP)

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