More than a third of young people say they have suffered a severe physical or sexual attack by their peers, according to a new survey.
The report carried out by the charity Beatbullying found that serious ‘child on child’ assaults are having a major effect on young people’s mental health.
The survey of 1,001 young adults found that a weapon was used in 28% of the assaults, a third of those attacked also went on to get in trouble with the police later in life.
Emma-Jane Cross from Beatbullying told Sky News: “Society needs to take action and tackle this epidemic head on as a community and no longer perceive severe bullying to be an issue confined only within the school gates.
“An integrated approach is needed from children and families, teachers, police, local authorities and government – we need robust peer-focused, anti-bullying and anti-violence strategies rolled out across every school nationwide.”
Sky News assembled a group of students at Bourneville College in Birmingham to discuss the issue.
Initially they were shocked by the report, but when they began discussing the subject, two of them said they had been severely attacked before.
Given the small sample, it indicated that the survey was accurate within our small group, even given that some may have preferred not to admit such assaults in public.
The consensus seemed to be that while some schools do tackle bullying, others just pay lip service to the issue.
Mike Moore suffered years of physical attacks while he was growing up in Birmingham and now acts as an online mentor, offering advice to bullied children.
Even at the age of 22 Mike feels the effects of what happened to him: “Big groups of people scare me unless I’m with a big group of friends.
“Going out I will tend to sit outside where there’s a lot of space, inside I wouldn’t say I’m claustrophobic but I do pick up where the exits are and choose carefully who I sit by.”
The statistics make for stark reading, until now the main focus has been on the rise of cyber bullying, but it seems more traditional forms are still a major problem.
Some 52% of those asked said they had sustained physical injuries as a result of an attack, a quarter admitted being sexually attacked by a peer.
The main concern of the report is the effect these attacks are having on the victims – almost a fifth of those who have experienced violence have then suffered from an eating disorder, with 17% being prescribed anti-depressants.
She told Sky News: “My mum started to see something was wrong and she sat me down one day with my dad and I explained it all to them.
“It’s horrible for anyone to go through – and if I see bullying being done to someone else now I try do what I can to stop it.”
The report highlights the need for teachers and others to keep a close eye on potential victims of bullying.
It is hoped a more cohesive approach to the issue will make a significant difference to an issue which is clearly still a major problem for a significant number of young people.