BOSSES at children’s charity Childline have insisted more must be done to raise awareness of newer forms of bullying after statistics revealed reports in Renfrewshire’s schools have rocketed in the last four years.

The Gazette can reveal since 2014/15, reports of bullying in the area’s primary schools have more than quadrupled, with almost 60 having been reported so far this year, compared to just 12 four years ago. 

Meanwhile, in secondary schools, reports have more than tripled in that time, with nearly 40 having come in so far this year, compared to 10 back in 2014/15.

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After discovering the figures via a Freedom of Information request, The Gazette spoke with Childline Services manager Leanne Ferries to delve deeper into why bullying might be on the rise in this day and age.

And Leanne, who is herself a parent, said the newer forms of bullying which involve communication online are making it more challenging to stop it. 

Leanne told The Gazette: “There’s no escape from it really. In the past few years there has definitely been an increase in cyber bullying.

“A lot more young people have mobile phones and are exchanging text messages, and they’re using things like online gaming, and I think it’s harder to tackle bullying that happens on these platforms.

“I think people say things online they would not necessarily say to each other in person. I think a lot of parents do not realise much about online gaming and the fact a lot of kids are having real conversations with people.

“It’s a bit of a minefield really because things are changing all the time so quickly. 

The Gazette: Leanne Ferries Leanne Ferries

“I know myself as a parent that it’s challenging but there is help out there for parents who want to understand more about online gaming and social media.”

Figures show there has been a steady rise in the number of bullying reports in Renfrewshire’s secondary schools since 2014/15, going up to 20 in 2015/16, 43 in 2016/17 and hitting a peak of 54 in 2017/18. 

In primary schools the picture is similar, with incidents rising from 12 in 2014/15, to 23 in 2015/16, 35 in 2016/17 and 69 in 2017/18.

Renfrewshire Council said it was unable to supply bullying statistics for each individual school.

While Leanne believes there may be some positives to take from the statistics, she insisted it was vital schools continued to encourage pupils to report bullying and draw attention to online abuse.

“I think we know there’s positives and negatives to these statistics,” added Leanne.

“Obviously it’s quite disturbing to see incidents on the increase and I think social media and things like that are having a big impact. 

“However, I think there may be more pupils feeling able to come forward about their experiences. 

“We do sometimes see an increase in disclosures after we’ve visited somewhere because pupils feel they have that opportunity to speak about it.

“I think there’s a lot of work in schools about treating each other with kindness and I think schools need to continue making sure children and parents have that safe space to report bullying.”

Childline, together with the NSPCC, is always trying to let children and parents know there is support out there for kids experiencing bullying

Recently the NSPCC teamed up with World Wrestling Entertainment to launched the Call Out Bullying campaign, focused on helping young people understand why it is not acceptable and what to do if they experience it. It will also help parents recognise the warning signs and help them speak to their children about bullying.

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Leanne added: “We have a lot of campaigns running in relation to bullying including the Speak Out Stay Safe sessions and the Call Out Bullying campaign we have with the WWE. 

“I think our focus at the moment is trying to make kids more emotionally intelligent through workshops.”

Speak Out Stay Safe sessions are available to all primary schools and aim to equip children with the knowledge they need to stay safe from abuse and neglect. They are delivered by trained NSPCC volunteers, who teach pupils to speak out if they are worried, either to a trusted adult or Childline.

If you would like to find out more about the sessions, visit here where teachers can request a visit to their school. 

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