Pembrokeshire schools accused of denial over bullying

Stephen Crabb talks exclusively to the Western Telegraph about bullying in schools
Stephen Crabb talks exclusively to the Western Telegraph about bullying in schools

Pembrokeshire schools have been accused of being in denial over the level of bullying which continues to take place throughout their corridors.

As a result, mental health issues continue to soar with the result that children’s lives are being put at increased risk.

Speaking exclusively to the Western Telegraph this week, Stephen Crabb has urged schools, parents and the local authority to do all they can to continue monitoring the situation and move towards a zero tolerance across the entire education sector.

“Over the last 17 years I’ve been contacted on so many occasions by local parents who are concerned about bullying, and sometimes those concerns have been harrowing,” he said.

“Unfortunately there has always been a culture of denial within some schools about bullying, and some have been fairly defensive about the way in which they were dealing with the problem.

“Whenever I’ve raised the bullying allegation issue in the past, I didn’t feel there was enough determination to get to grips with the problem.”

Mr Crabb says the problem is being further exacerbated by the fact that Pembrokeshire’s Child and Adult Mental Health service is currently severely overstretched with the result that it is unable to meet the growing scale of need.

Police are also finding themselves under increased pressure as a result of online bullying.

“Officers are pulling their hair out and are having to move from pillar to post after being asked to act on Facebook comments which are being made to children,” explained Mr Crabb.

“Even though some of the cases the police are being told about are well within the criminal record, they are also keen to see schools and parents taking a more pro-active approach.”

Despite Stephen Crabb’s concerns, he is hopeful that the tide may be beginning to turn.

“From recent discussions with headteachers, there has definitely been an improvement in the way that schools are starting to address the bullying issue and it’s very heartening to see some heads adopting a zero tolerance stance.

“This is being helped by the increase in resources which are now available to schools as well as families.”

A father of two, Stephen Crabb has nurtured close links with youth services both during his time as a serving MP and in his former career as a marketing consultant.

His past roles include the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services as well as a number of charities which help people overcome challenges. He is also patron of Pembrokeshire Mencap.

“I know there are parents out there who say I don’t know what I’m talking about, but there’s definitely an improvement in the way in which the issue is now being addressed."

“The important thing is to keep talking to the victims so that they fully understand the follow-up.”