Bullying and Violence Affects 1000s of County Kids
By Ben Falconer
Domestic abuse or violence has touched more than 3,000 children’s lives in Gloucestershire, a massive new survey reveals.
The survey was released yesterday, with pupils from Beaufort School talking about their experiences.
The report found that more than a third of 9,055 secondary school pupils who responded to Gloucestershire County Council’s online survey had witnessed or been a victim of domestic abuse or violence.
And more than 40% of 8,746 primary school children said they had been seriously bullied in the last year, while the figure for secondary schools was 27%.
Schools are getting better at dealing with bullying, the survey discovered. The figures for this problem, and domestic abuse and violence, are in line with national trends.
Just under 30% of secondary pupils said they had “occasionally” seen or been a victim of domestic violence, with “once a week” and “several times a week” at around 4% and “daily” at 2%.
However, the figure for “several times a week” and “daily” fell from 11% in 2006 to 6% in this year’s survey.
“It is in line with the national figure, not that it makes it any more acceptable,” said GCC healthy schools team leader Jan Urban- Smith.
And the biggest number of children wanted more support in dealing with stress.
“If you take the figures as a whole, they are more stressed,” GCC director of commissioning and partnerships, Linda Uren, said. “That’s their perception.
“That’s the way they feel and we need to take account of that.”
Bullying appeared to be more of a concern for primary school children, with just under 10% of pupils saying they were seriously bullied “most days”, “quite often”, or “sometimes”, and almost 20% “not often”. Just under half said they were not seriously bullied.
In secondary schools, there appears to be 10% less bullying than in primaries, and less frequent bullying but primaries appeared to be better at dealing with it.
The survey of 17,801 pupils is now in its second year and is believed to be the biggest of its kind in the country.
The same year groups – four, six, eight and 10 – were questioned two years ago, and will be again in 2010.
It revealed the average age that pupils said they first tried illegal drugs was 121/2, though the common age was 14. More boys than girls tried drugs but 87% of both said they had never tried them.
The most common age to start drinking was 13 and 26% said they drank “quite often” or “most days”.
The survey also covered healthy eating – only 29% of children get five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
And by the time girls are in year 10 (aged 14 to 15), just 36% eat breakfast every morning – and yet girls do less sport and physical activity than boys in and out of school.
Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust expert in health improvement, Sue Wild, said: “We are looking at what opportunities for physical activity there are for girls that are more accessible,” she said.
“There has been an increase in dance and aerobics.”
The survey also discovered that 42% of parents never monitor children’s internet use.
Overall though, most Gloucestershire children are active both in and outside of school time and feel happy and confident.
Pupils said the food on offer in many schools is significantly healthier than it was in 2006 – and more of them are eating it too.
Councillor Jackie Hall, lead cabinet member for children’s services, said: “It gives us the evidence we need about improvements we have already made and those that are needed in the future.
“It helps schools to identify future needs and how to support their own improvement. It also allows them to address particular issues which have been raised by their own pupils.”
The report can been viewed at www.gloucestershire.gov .uk/ changeforchildren
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