Quarter of under-12s 'bullied each term'

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MORE than a quarter of primary school children in Sheffield have been bullied at least once during term and 10 per cent of them have been bullied once a week. At secondary school, 10per cent have been bullied during term, writes Ngaio Crequer.

Repeated across the country, it means that as many as 350,000 school children aged 8 to 12 are being bullied at least once a week.

The figures were supplied by Peter Smith, Professor of Psychology at the University of Sheffield, who has carried out a research project for the Department for Education.

He was speaking at the launch of a campaign by Young Minds, the children's mental health charity, which is trying to raise awareness about the effects of bullying.

The campaign launch was told of one young girl who was twice dragged into the boys' lavatory at her school and stripped. Other girls encouraged the boys in their action. In a separate incident, a 13-year-old refused to go to school because a gang of boys was terrorising other pupils with a tack gun - a gun used to pin staples to walls. When questioned, the boys said they had done it because 'it's the fashion'.

Peter Wilson, director of Young Minds, said about 20 per cent of children under 16 - about 2 million children - had mental health, as opposed to mental illness, problems. The signs were: children refusing to attend school; difficulty concentrating and learning; irritability or disruptive behaviour; eating or sleeping problems.