Parents take action to tackle school bullies

Pirniehall pupils show their support in the anti-bullying campaign. Picture: Esme Allen
Pirniehall pupils show their support in the anti-bullying campaign. Picture: Esme Allen
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PARENT power has been drafted in to help stamp out the scourge of bullying in some of the Capital’s worst-hit 
neighbourhoods.

Mums and dads gathered at the gates of Pirniehall Primary in the north of the Capital to spray-paint “Bullying Stops Here” in neon letters on the pavement – the first in a series of planned public messages at schools across the city.

Parents took their stand after a survey of families in Pilton and Muirhouse found soaring rates of concern about bullying and a perception that nothing was being done about it.

Pilton dad Gary McDonald, 52, who has four children at Pirniehall, said residents were fed up and demanding action. He said: “I know parents whose kids are being bullied, and lots of them won’t play in this area because of it. I think a lot of parents are under the impression that nothing gets done. Parents are saying it’s a major problem here – they’re saying it’s bad, whether it’s physical, mental or cyber-bullying.”

Amid surging growth in the incidence of cyber-bullying, parents admitted it was not only up to schools to deal with the problem and vowed they would work with teachers at Pirniehall and elsewhere to root it out.

Among the Pirniehall 
initiatives benefitting from family involvement are special information cards telling victims who they can turn to for help, as well as a “parent-friendly” school bullying guide.

Pirniehall headteacher Mary Ryan Gillespie said her school was firmly behind parents and would do everything possible to stamp out bullying.

“We have a really active bunch of parents and they are keen to be involved in the anti-bullying message – we’re happy to support them,” she said.

“There is a perception that nothing is ever done about bullying in school and that it’s more the school’s responsibility. This is about getting the message out to the community that it’s not just about schools and that everyone has a responsibility to tackle bullying.”

Education chiefs said “positive work” was being carried out in Edinburgh’s schools to highlight bullying and other types of unacceptable 
behaviour.

Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said: “Any form of bullying should not be tolerated and I hope the progress being made in our schools to tackle this issue will ensure that every child and young person in Edinburgh feels safe and respected.”