Most children worry about bullying at secondary school

Children starting secondary school are most concerned about being bullied for being too clever or not clever enough, a survey has found. Beatbullying and Parentdish have launched an online guide for parents.

The poll of more than 800 eight- to 15-year-olds by the charity BeatBullying and parenting website Parentdish found other common concerns about starting a new school include keeping up with homework, finding their way around school and making new friends. It found that 58 per cent of primary school pupils were worried about being bullied when they start secondary school.

BeatBullying and Parentdish have produced an online guide that offers parents advice on how to spot whether their child is being bullied and what can be done to stop it.

Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive of BeatBullying, said schools can help children by having a “buddy” or “peer mentor” scheme in place. “Many children are worried about moving from primary to secondary school,” she said. “It’s a hugely exciting time – with a new school, new teachers and new classmates – but it can also be very scary.”


Students fail to engage with university counselling services

Students are failing to turn to university support and advice services for help with mental health problems, new research shows.

A survey of 1,200 students by the National Union of Students (NUS) has found that of those who reported experiencing symptoms of mental distress, just 17 per cent used counselling services provided by their university or student union.

The vast majority of students turn to friends (58 per cent) and family (45 per cent) to talk about mental health problems, but 64 per cent said they didn’t access any “formal” services for advice and support to discuss the issue, while 26 per cent didn’t talk to anyone about the problem.

The professional most students turned to for advice about mental health issues was their family or university GP (23 per cent), while nine per cent turned to private therapists.

Despite most students not accessing university support for mental health issues, the majority of respondents (58 per cent) were aware that such services existed.

NUS disabled students officer, Hannah Paterson said: “My primary concern is the fact that more than a quarter of those surveyed did not tell anyone about their problems. We are meeting with mental health organisations in a bid to examine the standard of mental health care in UK universities.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said the research demonstrated the scale of mental health issues experienced by students.

“Despite the high prevalence of mental health problems and stress among students, many people are not seeking help, perhaps because of the stigma that can surround mental health problems,” he added.

The survey, carried out in May, showed that eight per cent (109) reported having a mental health problem they were not seeking help for, two per cent (20) were in the process of seeking a diagnosis, while 10 per cent (134) had been diagnosed and thought the condition was ongoing.

A further six per cent (82) had been diagnosed with a mental health problem in the past but felt they had recovered, and two thirds of respondents said they had never been diagnosed with a problem.

The most common serious symptoms of mental distress experienced by respondents included anxiety (55 per cent), depression (49 per cent), panic attacks (38 per cent), paranoia (16 per cent), thoughts of self-harm (14 per cent) and suicidal thoughts (13 per cent).

Study pressures, relationship problems and financial difficulties were the most common contributing factors to mental distress.

Girls in gangs ‘face greater mental health risks’

A report by the Centre for Mental Health found that young women who associate with gangs are on average three times more vulnerable than other children in the system.

Following screening assessments of 8,000 young people at the point of arrest, researchers found that young women involved with gangs were more likely to display a range of risk factors and health issues including poor mental health, family conflict, homelessness and victimisation.

The report, A Need to Belong, reveals that more than a quarter of girls involved with gangs have a suspected mental health problem and 30 per cent had either self-harmed or were judged as being at risk of suicide.

Nearly 40 per cent of girls in gangs had behavioural problems before the age of 12, and were more than three times more likely to have a history of running away and exclusion from school.

They were also three times more likely to have experienced violence, neglect at home and sexual abuse.

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health said it is clear that girls with the most problems are being drawn in to gang culture.

He said: “The reasons girls join gangs are often quite different to boys of a similar age.

“Whereas low self-esteem in boys usually means they are less likely to join a gang, girls with low self-esteem are more likely to get sucked into the gang lifestyle because it offers them a sense of security and an ‘alternative family’.”

Duggan said that the “only way” to prevent vulnerable young women being drawn into gangs is by intervening early to tackle the risk factors.

“By intervening early with proven programmes that improve behaviour we can reduce that risk.

“We can protect against gang involvement by working to strengthen girls’ self-esteem, reduce maltreatment and respond quickly to the first signs of mental ill health.”

John Poyton, chief executive of London-based youth work charity Redthread, said girls and gangs is a “hidden issue”.

The charity has youth workers based at the accident and emergency department at King’s College Hospital in London.

“Young women present at A&E who are victims of gang violence, but because they don’t present with obvious injuries, such as knife wounds, they become the unrecognised victims of gang violence.

“A lot will turn up with sexual health concerns, in need of emergency contraception, or pregnancy tests – the kind of things A&E can’t help them with.”

The Youth Justice Board is working to spread best practice on intervention projects targeted at girls that address the specific issues they are likely to face.

Second UN Global Road Safety Week

The Second UN Global Road Safety Week to be held 6-12 May 2013 is dedicated to pedestrian safety. Requested by the UN mother & child crossing roadGeneral Assembly, the Week will draw attention to the urgent need to better protect pedestrians worldwide, generate action on the measures needed to do so, and contribute to achieving the goal of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 to save 5 million lives. Join the international community to ensure a fatality free Week and a significant and long-lasting contribution towards making walking safe for all.

Click on or for further information.

UK skills shortage holding back fight against cyber attacks

The UK’s fight against cyber-crime is being hampered by a lack of relevant skills, engineers warn.

Small businesses are coming under increasing attack from hackers, according to new government data, but a survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) found only 30 per cent of such companies felt they had sufficient cyber protection.

Recent research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) found that 87 per cent of small businesses (and 93 per cent of large ones) experienced a breach in their cyber security in the last year, an increase of over 10 per cent.

But the IET survey of 250 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) found only 14 per cent of them said cyber security threats were the highest priority and that they already had sufficient skills and resources in place to manage the threat.

The IET’s cyber security lead, Hugh Boyes, said the problem was both a lack of engineers going into the cyber security sector and a failing of universities to include an awareness of the issue in the computer programming courses

‘It’s a combination of software skills and system engineering skills,’ he told The Engineer. ‘For example, many university engineering courses teach students basic programming skills but don’t focus on the trustworthiness of the software they produce – making it secure and reliable.

‘Because of the interconnection of systems, we need to increasingly think about how a piece of hardware or software works with everything else …

‘A lot of courses focus on the maths of engineering rather than the big picture of building systems and the consequences if it goes wrong.’

The government-run Technology Strategy Board recently extended its voucher scheme offering SMEs the chance to bid for up to £5,000 from a total pot of £500,000 to improve their cyber security with outside expertise.

But the IET survey found that only half of the SMEs contacted were aware of the government’s Cyber Security Strategy.

The IET is also developing its own scheme to sponsor cyber security masters degree courses at selected universities, which aims to give the sponsored students cyber security skills they can apply in their current job, or the opportunity to develop a career in a cyber security role.

Poor sex education leaves pupils vulnerable – Ofsted

More than a third of schools in England are failing to provide pupils with age-appropriate sex-and-relationships education, the schools watchdog says.

Ofsted inspectors warn this could leave them vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

Too few teachers have the expertise to discuss delicate issues such as sexuality and domestic violence, they say.

The warning comes after teaching unions raised concerns about the effects of a sexualised culture on pupils.

At unions’ conferences over the Easter holidays, teachers shared their concerns about the negative impact pornography and pressure to have “the perfect body” was having on their pupils and called for better training to help teachers to deal with such issues.

Launch of Pedestrian Safety Good Practice Manual

Each year, more than 270 000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads. Many leave their homes as they would on any given day never to return. Globally, pedestrians constitute 22% of all road traffic fatalities, and in some countries this proportion is as high as two thirds of all road traffic deaths.

April saw the World Health Organization, together with partner organizations including the Global Road Safety Partnership, launch the sixth in a growing series of road safety Good Practice manuals, this edition entitled ‘Pedestrian safety: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners’.

LPed Safety Report Coveraunched just weeks ahead of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration Global Road Safety Week (May 6-12), this year dedicated to pedestrian safety, the manual equips the reader with necessary information on: the magnitude of pedestrian death and injury; key risk factors; how to assess the pedestrian safety situation in a country or area and prepare an action plan; and how to select, design, implement and evaluate effective interventions.

The manual stresses the importance of a comprehensive, holistic approach that includes enforcement, engineering and education. It also draws attention to the benefits of walking, which should be promoted as an important mode of transport given its potential to improve health and preserve the environment.

Click here for more details and to download the full report.

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