Wednesday, 15 June 2011

First national survey estimates over 16,000 children are absent from school due to severe bullying

A very interesting read with some alarming facts....

In August 2010 Red Balloon Learner Centre Group commissioned the first national survey to ascertain the number of young secondary school children aged between 11 and 15 absent from school because they had been subjected to severe bullying.  The research was undertaken by NatCen, Britain’s largest independent social research organization, and was funded jointly by Red Balloon Learner Centre Group, the Foyle Foundation and the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA). Its findings are dramatic. 

The report estimates that of the six million young people who are in Years 7 – 10 and who attend a state school bullying is the main reason given for persistent long-term absence in between 13,400 and 19,600 cases. This research is the first of its kind to seek out the number of children self-excluding from school as a result of severe bullying. All previous research about bullying has focused on children within schools.

Questionnaires were sent to two groups of parents whose children were absent from school and whose absence was likely to be due to bullying.  The first involved children who are frequently absent from school, the second those who were home educated.

Commenting on the Report, Dr Carrie Herbert, Founder and Chief Executive, Red Balloon Learner Centre Group said:  “ This research has given a well-founded estimate of how many children are unable to go to school because they have been so badly bullied. We are indebted to the Foyle Foundation and the ABA for enabling us to commission this research, the first of its kind.  We know the Government appreciates the damaging consequences of severe bullying and of children missing education, including the long-term effects of low self-esteem and a poor academic record if these children are not recovered. Red Balloon has an impressive record of enabling the recovery of such children. 95% of the students who come to a Red Balloon Centre and stay longer than six weeks are able to return to school, go on to college or enter employment. However, to ensure this provision is secure Red Balloon needs the Local Authorities and/or the Government to set aside money to fund places at these intensive care educational Centres. ”

David Hall, Chief Executive, Foyle Foundation, added: “As a funder which supports learning, we considered it essential that Red Balloon undertake this important research which was a real gap and which will inform their expansion programme.”

Sue Steel, National Manager of the Anti-Bullying Alliance said: “The ABA welcomes the report commissioned by Red Balloon and hopes the findings will encourage government, schools and the wider community to address this important issue.”

Founded in 1996 by Dr Carrie Herbert, Red Balloon is the only UK charity that specifically recovers severely bullied children who are out of school and missing an education, through the provision of short-term educational, pastoral and social programmes.

The various research projects and independent assessments that have previously been undertaken have helped to clarify the whole bullying picture, from how many children are missing education to why they are bullied and to the best ways of helping them recover from its effects. This valuable quantitative research by National Centre of Social Research will complement the findings of Red Balloon’s own qualitative data collection, which includes interviews with Red Balloon graduates who left at least five years ago.  Independent evaluations from external organisations such as Ofsted help us complete the picture by validating our methods of recovery

Red Balloon, whose Patrons are Esther Rantzen CBE, founder of Childline, Doug Richard, a former ‘dragon’ from BBC Dragons’ Den and Professor Peter Smith, author, academic and expert on bullying, currently has four Centres operating in the UK as well as a virtual “Red Balloon of the Air”. Red Balloon works with Local Authorities, schools, parents and teachers to help severely bullied children, half of whom have considered or attempted suicide, to recover from the effects of their experiences.
Each Red Balloon Learner Centre provides a safe full-time learning environment for fifteen children aged between 11 and 17. The amount of time needed for students to recover varies from four weeks to three years. To date more than 170 of our students have been able to return to mainstream education or enter employment. With distraught parents of bullied children contacting us on a regular basis we have ambitious plans for growth.

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