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MSP raises bullying concerns with first minister following shocking videos of violent Highland school children

MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rhoda Grant raised the issue of bullying with the first minister in Holyrood.  Image: Rhoda Grant.
MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rhoda Grant raised the issue of bullying with the first minister in Holyrood. Image: Rhoda Grant.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked what the government is doing to tackle school bullies.

Multiple videos have emerged from the Highlands recently, showing victims being attacked outwith the school grounds.

This causes problems for schools as they are not responsible for what happens to pupils outwith the grounds.

But Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant believes it is a “societal” problem that “needs to be addressed”.

At First Minister’s Questions, she asked what the government and police are doing to protect children from school bullying outside the grounds.

Today at #FMQs I raised bullying in schools and how bullying now happens off school grounds, on the way to school and on social media. These attacks do not only happen within school. They also take place outside and on the way to school. This causes problems for schools as they cannot be responsible for what happens to pupils off school grounds. I asked the First Minister what steps her Government and Police Scotland are taking to protect children from school bullying when it takes place off school grounds and what actions are being taken to hold bullies to account. You can see my question and the First Minister's response below.

Posted by Rhoda Grant MSP on Thursday, 2 March 2023

Collective responsibility

Ms Sturgeon acknowledged Mrs Grant’s concerns, and said there was a collective responsibility for tackling bullying off school grounds from the police and from national and local governments.

She stressed that “all adults and communities” have a responsibility and a role to ensure all children are cared for and safeguarded.

Mrs Grant’s question comes after a number of videos were shared on social media.

In January, Lochaber High School in Fort William was the scene of a 13-year-old boy being lured into a field and attacked by a gang of young teenagers.

A number of others are said to have filmed the shocking scenes on their phones, which showed the boy on the ground receiving several kicks to the body by two other boys.

Police say two male teenagers, aged 14 and 13, were reported to the youth justice authorities.

Videos have been shared of Lochaber High School pupils fighting. Image: Google Maps

In December, a video was seen on social media of a girl having her hair held down while she is punched and kicked by a number of youths.

The clip then shows another girl stepping in to help the victim, but the culprits – who are in school uniform – then turn on her too.

The Daily Record reported the second girl needed a brain scan afterward.

‘Attacks are planned and recorded’

Speaking after FMQs, Mrs Grant MSP said: “The first minister is correct in stating that this is a societal problem and it is one that needs to be addressed.

“Children now face bullies on and off school grounds. Whether that be outside school, on the way to school or on social media.

“These attacks are preplanned in that they are recorded from before the start of the attack yet local authorities and police seem unable to provide solutions leaving child victims without protection.”

In a January statement, a Highland Council spokeswoman said they take all complaints about bullying “very seriously” and follow national policy on dealing with incidents.

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