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Bullying

Volume 591: debated on Monday 19 January 2015

This Government take bullying very seriously. We have strengthened teachers’ powers to tackle bullying, we have provided anti-bullying advice for schools, we have provided approximately £4 million of funding to anti-bullying charities and announced a further £2 million to address homophobic bullying, and we have included internet safety in the national curriculum. According to our longitudinal study of young people published in November last year, around 30,000 fewer young people are being bullied than 10 years ago in England.

The ultimate consequence of bullying can be that the victim takes their own life, as a friend unfortunately did when I was at school. Given that these days cyber-bullying is an additional pressure for victims, what advice and support does my hon. Friend’s Department offer to teachers to deal specifically with that problem?

It is always tragic when young people take their own life for whatever reason, but particularly when that is linked to cyber-bullying. As this is a particular worry for parents, we recently issued advice on how they can help protect their children from cyber-bullying, the signs to look for and what to do if children are being cyber-bullied. We also produce advice for schools on how to support pupils facing cyber-bullying.

A two-year research project entitled “Addressing Sexual Bullying Across Europe” has just been published by Leeds Beckett university, revealing that sexual bullying in young people is widespread across Europe, with 73% of young people aged 13 to 18 having experienced at least one form of sexual bullying on more than one occasion. This is horrendous. What more can we do in our schools to deal with this very worrying problem?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. This is an increasing trend and we have to make it very clear in our schools that this form of behaviour in our schools is unacceptable. The guidance issued by the Department makes it clear that issues such as consent have to be taught in our sex and relationship education lessons.