School bullies progressing to crime

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The Independent Online
THE PLAYGROUND bullies of today may be the criminals of tomorrow, a survey of teenagers in young offenders' institutions claims, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

The survey by the charity, Kidscape, found that bullying was a 'catalyst to a life of crime'. It says 92 per cent of young offenders were bullies at school and 95 per cent believed getting away with it led them to progress to crime.

Most bullying took place in gangs and nine out of 10 said they started bullying at the ages of 12 or 13. Activities ranged from name-calling to beating up with a weapon: obtaining money or possessions such as Walkmans was often the motive.

Michele Elliott, director of Kidscape, said a concerted effort was needed to teach schools and parents how to confront bullying. 'If we can reduce bullying in schools then, on the evidence of this report, juvenile crime will also fall.' She said schools should have a clearly publicised anti-bullying policy, bullies should be made to apologise and make restitution, victims should be guaranteed anonymity and playgrounds closely supervised. In cases of theft and serious assault, police should be brought in.

You Can Beat Bullying; Kidscape, 152 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9TR; send large sae

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