Sunday, 27 September 2009


In recent weeks, there have been a couple of sad news items related to bullying.

One concerned an 18 year old girl with learning difficulties and her mother. Evidently, a local gang of bullies numbering sixteen youths, some as young as 10, used to harass them whenever they could, including 'terrorising' them in their home by throwing stones at the building and so on. The mother reported these incidents and kept a written record of them but sadly, the attacks continued until the mother became driven to distraction by the stress she was under. She duly took her daughter into the car and set fire to it killing them both.

The other incident was in Gloucester, where I live, and involved a 15 year old schoolgirl who was persistently bullied in school and on Facebook. Things got to be so bad that the girl was transferred to another school. Disappointed at losing their target, the bullies then contacted friends at the new school and persuaded them to continue the campaign of bullying. The girl became so depressed over this that she took her own life by jumping from a road bridge.

The common factor is these events, is that they took place over a prolonged period of time - ample time in fact, for the authorities to stop the bullying from happening. More should have been done in these cases to take direct action to stop the taunts, the name-calling and the physical attacks before they could escalate. I doubt that anyone would disagree with this.

Consider then the case of the school meals assistant who was recently dismissed for telling some parents that their daughter had been bullied. She came upon a group of four boys who had tied a 7 year old girl up and were then proceeding to whip the helpless girl's legs with a skipping rope. Chasing them off and freeing the girl, she duly reported the incident.

That evening, she chanced to encounter the girl's father at a social event and told him how sorry she was about what had happened. It quickly became clear that the father had not been told the full facts and had reportedly been given the story by the school that his daughter had been injured during a skipping game. The woman explained the true circumstances. In doing this she was judged to have breached the school's rules on confidentiality and was later dismissed by the governing body of the school. As it happens, one of the four bullies, is the son of one of the school governors!

School staff are responsible for the safety of the children in their care and are deemed to be acting 'in loco parentis'. In my view, the woman should be praised for her actions. Bully for her! As one person has commented - there are a number of people involved in this incident who could justifiably lose their jobs, but the dinner lady isn't one of them.


  1. Life isn't fair but I do think that what goes around comes around eventually. I hope you enjoy your pork roast.

  2. The bullying was concerning but not nearly so concerning as the school's cover up of what really happened. The confidentiality issue is really a non issue as confidentiality has it's limits and the maxim "personal privilege ends where public peril begins" If I was on the board of governors of that school I would be seriously questioning the schools discharge of its duty of care towards the child and the withholding of information from parents. The schools meals assistant has been scapegoated for telling the truth and confidentialty a cloak of convenience for the school - shame on them

  3. I am shocked at that last incident, and the school's meal assistant lost her job over this. There should be a public outcry over this, as I'm sure every parent out there would want to know what really happened to their child, not some made-up fabrication that protects another parent's child because of WHO that child is. How morally irreprehensible!

    Bullying seems to be a sad problem in today's society - it existed when I was a child, but not to the degree it does today. Too many parents do not instill empathy and caring into their children - could it be because the parents themselves do not possess those qualities, but instead subscribe to the more popular "me first" philosophy??!

  4. Excellent blog, Tony. Heartily agree that school life for children has become entirely topsy-turvy and that, it appears - even outside of school that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum. Something radically wrong that it was dinner lady who had to inform child's parent about bullying incident at school and there is something radically wrong that she is being punished for unconditionally doing the right thing. I despair.

  5. I can not believe that they dismissed the dinner lady that was just so wrong, as was the fact that the dad hadnt been given the full story in the first place.

    I had to move my daughter from a school where she was being bullied by a young man and girl, she once came home with a footprint on her back in brusies. I was told many times i was over reacting. It came to a head when i asked for the children involved to be punished and i was told they wouldnt due to the fact they were on a special scheme encouraging them to come to school and behave. As they had been constant truants before hand. They didnt want to punsih them in case they rocked the boat. As you can imagine i was so upset, i had disgreed with this scheme as a school governor anyway. This took the biscuit. So i took my child out of school and made a complaint. The complaint didnt go anywhere as it became a closed group, was i suprised no. Thankfully daughters loved her new school and all was well.