CHILDREN and young people in Cheshire have helped to launch a new anti-bullying strategy that will enable organisations across the county to introduce their own policy.
The three year strategy has been produced on behalf of Cheshire’s Local Safeguarding Children Board and The Cheshire Children’s Trust.
The steering group which created the strategy involved children and young people and provides an overarching framework and standards for Cheshire’s Children’s Services and their partners and ensures that bullying is tackled not only in schools but wherever children and young people come together and in the wider community as a whole.
It applies to all children and young people under the age of 18 and to ‘child on child’ bullying and the strategy includes organisations such as schools, youth projects, sport organisations, out of school clubs, health and social care services.
Lynne Jones, chairman of the Children’s Local Safeguarding Children Board welcomed children, young people and organisations to a special launch event.
She told them: “We are here to talk about the issue that is the most important safeguarding issue for children and young people.
“Whenever children and young people are asked about being safe, when they are asked what worries them most, bullying comes out top every time.”
She continued: “The Government has introduced lots of policies, legislation and regulation that require all organisations that provide services to children and young people to have in place not just a statement but rigorously enforced anti-bullying policies and we are all now going to be monitored and judged on how successful these policies are.”
Cheshire’s Strategy states: “There is no hierarchy of bullying – all incidents of bullying, for whatever reason, need to be taken equally seriously and acted upon.”
In order to ensure a robust and consistent approach there are six areas for action:
? Policy and procedures – all organisations and settings for children and young people will have an anti bullying policy
? Data collection and reporting – all organisations are required to record and monitor bullying incidents
? Training and support – all staff and volunteers working with children have a responsibility to ensure that bullying is dealt with promptly and effectively
? Communication – effective communication will be established with all key stakeholders, children, young people and their parents.
? Children and young people’s participation – a steering group will be set up to monitor the effectiveness of the Anti Bullying Strategy.
? Standards – there are seven standards which include a named individual at a senior level in an organisation who will have particular responsibility for the anti bullying policy.
Taking part in the launch was the Bishops’ Blue Coat Church of England High School from Chester and Ellesmere Port Specialist School of Performing Arts.
The Bishops’ Bluecoat has a national award for peer mentoring reaching the Approved Provider Standard for quality and good practice and is also taking part in a two year Government pilot scheme on anti–bullying.
Ellesmere Port Specialist School of Performing Arts won a Champion of Champions Award in 2007 and pupils train as peer mentors, going into feeder primary schools to raise awareness of bullying and act as support for pupils coming into the high school. It is also taking part in the Government pilot anti – bullying scheme.
Other speakers were from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Parent Partnership.
Hayley Hyland and Maz Ferguson, members of Youth Parliament in Cheshire, are working closely with colleagues on the Anti-Bullying Steering Group and also helped to plan the launch.
The new anti-bullying strategy will sit alongside the county council’s long standing anti-bullying policy which centres on schools.
Both Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East shadow authorities have agreed to adopt Cheshire’s Children’s Plan going into year one and anti-bullying is one of the current priorities in the plan.