Following the tragic news of yet another school-related bullycide,
"Dr Stuart Newton, a retired headteacher and current part-time teacher at Brighton and Hove Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) believes society must react to the lessons to be learned from Ben Vodden's story. He has been increasingly critical of the apparent lack of action among those in a position of authority, including the media, to combat bullying.
He said: "My job, for the last 40 years, has involved disentangling the endless hate trails of bullies in schools. I have listened to the endlessly pathetic excuses of the bullies and their parents about why their behaviour is justified. Of course, the response of the rest of society is complacency. They sit on the sidelines, criticise and do nothing of any use."
"After 40 years of teaching young people in secondary schools, I have learned a number of things about bullies. The bullying Ben endured in Horsham happens in every school in the country. The techniques of some bullies are more refined than others but the aims are the same - to wound, humiliate and scare their victims. Most teachers could give you a list of the children in their school who are out-andout bullies, and so could most of the children. Most teachers could give you a list of those children who are the henchmen, the ones who do the dirty work of the bully. Most teachers know that the vast majority of children would never get involved in bullying but they feel powerless to stop it. My frustration is that there is no obvious serious action that anyone is taking to tackle the issue."
I think Dr. Newton has the measure of the extent of bullying in many school situations, but actually contrary to his assertion that no one is taking obvious serious action to remedy the situation, some parents do know exactly what to. In recent months, we have seen four de-registrations from a local school which happened directly as a result of persistent and apparently unstoppable bullying - this from a school which has a reputation for having a very active anti-bullying policy and for generally being attentive to the needs of pupils. Despite the policies and initiatives there, things were still appallingly bad for these children, and their parents therefore took the appropriate step; they didn't hang about waiting for further institutional change, which anyway so far hasn't made the blindest bit of difference. These parents took their responsibilities seriously and removed their children from a horrific experience which was slowing or completely impeding learning.
Almost anything these families do from now on would be an improvement on what went before, but actually contrary to reports that parents who remove their children from school as a result of bullying are less likely to be able to provide a suitable education for their children, these parents seem to be making a fantastic job of helping their children to enjoy learning once again. (One of them is actually a reformed teacher and another a recovering special needs teaching assistant, ie: they know what is happening in those places!)
Think about Home Education if your child is being bullied. It can and does solve a serious problem, for whilst there may be instances of bullying in the HE community, these are few and far between, probably because the pressure is off - people can walk away, and because of the high number of parents and guardians around to sort it out. Bullying in HE groups is generally trivial compared to the terrifying situation that can be bullying in school.