Leader: ‘Bullying in all forms must be stamped out’

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Reports that bullying is on the rise in Edinburgh schools will concern every parent today.

Whether it is simple name-calling or serious physical attacks, bullying in all forms is unacceptable and must be stamped out. Indeed, it is something which can scar the 
victim long after leaving school.

But is there actually a positive to be gained from today’s report? Yes reports are up, but that may well be a result of better procedures for recording incidents.

Perhaps we are only now seeing the true extent of cases in the city’s schools. It is worrying but, at least in the 822 cases last year, it is known about.

Once the individual school or council are aware of the scale of the problem, it is easier to develop a strategy to tackle bullying in all its forms.

And if it is the case that children are more willing to come forward and talk about what is happening to them then that has to be a good thing.

Of course, what today’s figures do not include is the huge issue of cyber-bullying, which as more and more pupils have access to the latest smartphones is a daunting task to begin to tackle.

Bullying no longer stops at the school gate. It can continue seven days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day online while the parents of both the victim and the perpetrator are left 
completely in the dark.

If education bosses now feel they have a grip on playground bullying then this is the next challenge. There is no excuse for bullying at school, in the street or on the 
internet.

Value of volunteers

The annual gala day in many towns across the Lothians is a key date in the calendar – an opportunity for locals to come together and celebrate community and tradition.

Today we report concerns that Blackburn Gala Day, which has run annually for more than 100 years, could be in jeopardy as so few people have volunteered to help organise it.

This is hardly a great advert for David Cameron’s Big Society but it not surprising. Families and individuals are busier than ever with many taking second jobs during the downturn.

More significantly, society fails to place enough value on those who do volunteer to make such events happen. You are more likely to hear a catty comment about something going wrong than a recognition of the effort that people give for no reward. So let’s celebrate our volunteers – we need them.