Steve Cardownie: If you need hauners, bullies can be beaten

As a parent, I am acutely conscious of the problems that can arise if bullying, particularly at school, is allowed to go unchecked but it appears that many parents or guardians are still not fully aware of the tell-tale signs that their child may be being subjected to such behaviour '“ and so it continues, with devastating and sometimes tragic consequences.
Bullied children may become withdrawn or reluctant to go to schoolBullied children may become withdrawn or reluctant to go to school
Bullied children may become withdrawn or reluctant to go to school

The Children 1st website informs us that bullying can take many forms including: “Verbal abuse – being teased, put down or threatened; physical abuse of any form including damage to belongings; spreading rumours; being excluded or left out; sending abusive messages or images or any behaviour which tries to ­control or undermine someone. Bullying can happen face to face or, increasingly, online as well.”

Although a change of behaviour may be noticeable, some children will try to cover up what is happening to prevent adults from perhaps taking action which they feel may make ­matters worse. But there are sometimes clear indications that something is wrong.

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The child may come home with scratches, bruises or torn clothes. They may be reluctant to go to school or become withdrawn. They may complain of feeling unwell or change the way that they use their phone or go online, or they may react more angrily to some situations or get more upset. Although none of these may be evident, any behaviour that is out of character may merit further examination.

Anne Budge has banned two fans from Tynecastle after last Saturday's alleged incidentAnne Budge has banned two fans from Tynecastle after last Saturday's alleged incident
Anne Budge has banned two fans from Tynecastle after last Saturday's alleged incident

Edinburgh City Council has adopted a robust policy on bullying and states that “the policy exists to protect all children and young people (in services supported by Children and Families) from all forms of ­bullying by other children and young people. This includes prejudice-based bullying and cyber-bullying and aims to prevent such behaviours and ­attitudes from developing.”

Cathy Fullerton SNP councillor for Gorgie/Dalry told me that all councillors take reports of bullying at schools extremely seriously and have pledged to do all that they can to resolve matters brought to their attention.

She would encourage anyone who has issues relating to bullying in schools to go online to read the council’s policy, and that councillors are on hand to offer further guidance if it’s required.

Bullying can and often does have a life-changing effect on the victim and the Children’s Commissioner for Scotland, Bruce Adamson, went on record to say: “Bullying impacts on children in a number of ways. It cuts right to the heart of their identity and their human dignity but it also has an impact on their access to other rights – like their ability to have a full ­education, to engage in cultural activities and to engage in playing . . . it has a real impact on things like their health, including mental health.”

According to 2016 national bullying statistics by Ditch the Label, a mind-blowing 1.5 million young people in the UK were bullied in that year alone with 145,800 (19 per cent) being ­bullied every day. More than 200 schoolchildren take their own lives every year in the UK, which demonstrates the need to pay the closest attention to the mental health issues which can affect young people.

Who could fail to have been moved by the sickening sight of the 15-year- old Syrian refugee in Huddersfield who was filmed a couple of weeks ago being pushed to the ground and ­having water poured on his face in a video that went viral?

Gut-wrenching incidents like these are all too common and, to his credit, the young boy who was attacked, Jamal, said that he hopes no violence will befall the bully after online abuse was directed at the alleged 16-year-old perpetrator. He said “I am very concerned about the violent comments going out on social media about this bully. I don’t want anything terrible to happen to him at all. I just don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone.”

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That young boy’s words should be an example to us all and, if taken to heart, could contribute to ending the scourge of bullying in our schools.

Officials hung council out to dry on hall lets

It comes as no surprise that the council is to reverse its proposed rent hike for school sports halls as its effects would have had grave consequences for many amateur, particularly youth, clubs.

It was reported in yesterday’s paper that “research by Edinburgh City Council officials found that if the £35 per hour non-core charge was rolled out, clubs would be hit with extra costs of £84,250 over 40 weeks and £214,600 for clubs using PPP facilities”. The findings also revealed that “junior clubs would bear the largest share of the costs”.

What does come as a surprise was that this research was not carried out by officials before it was recommended to councillors as part of the budget process, or why they were not instructed to do so by councillors before they accepted this proposal.

If it had been undertaken at the appropriate time then perhaps the administration could have avoided an embarrassing U-turn, on top of which it now has to bridge the financial gap that this will create with more than half of the financial year gone.

Fans going bananas at the racists

I devoted the main part of my column last week to the problem of racist abuse at football matches and it is sad to see that other instances of such cases have been recorded since then, most notably the arrest of two spectators at Tynecastle Park last Saturday for allegedly racially abusing the Motherwell substitute Christian Mbulu as he was warming up.

I was at the game and although I did not witness the incident in question, I have seen first-hand the actions of a small group of spectators.

Club owner Anne Budge, inset, has acted swiftly and two individuals have been banned from the stadium indefinitely and she has promised further action if required.

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Unfortunately this has not been an isolated incident as reports have emerged of racist abuse incidents at a number of games over the last week. What is pleasing, however, is the reaction from decent fans throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK as they have taken to social media to condemn the moronic actions of the few that have once more tarnished the image of our game in an effort to promote their own right-wing ideology.

As I said last week, we are a long way from the banana throwing and racist chants that were witnessed in the 1980s, but there are some who would like to see them return. It is up to the rest of us to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Jason set for snap verdict

I see that Tory councillor Jason Rust has been lamenting the fact that due to bad weather and issues with the sub-contractor’s machinery, work has not yet finished on the promised Buckstone Terrace pedestrian crossing.

Not normally one to ignore another photo opportunity I fully expect him to turn up on site with the necessary equipment wearing navy blue overalls – pin-striped of course!