Mum’s plea to stop filming violence in Scotland’s schools

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Vicky Donald is calling for a clampdown on the sharing online of videos of school pupils being attacked
By Andrew Picken
BBC Scotland News

A mum whose daughter was attacked on a school bus has said young people filming these incidents is adding to the anguish of victims.

Vicky Donald’s daughter Kaylynn’s attack in Fife last year was filmed and widely shared on social media.

In the aftermath, Kaylynn, 13, got so fed up with seeing the attack video being shared online she handed her phone back to her parents for months.

Mrs Donald said social media was fuelling the school violence problem.

Her plea over the sharing of violent videos comes ahead of new research being published later by the Scottish government about behaviour standards in Scotland’s schools.

Mrs Donald told BBC Scotland how Kaylynn was attacked by two girls on a school bus on her way home from a high school in Fife last October.

The incident left Kaylynn with bruises and scratches but the long term impact of the incident is still being felt.

She explained: “She feels let down by everybody, she feels completely let down by everybody.

“And that has taken a long time to try and bring her round from that, for a long long time she didn’t see the point in anything. “

Mrs Donald said the video kept appearing on social media channels and this left her daughter in a “really dark place having to relive and see that all the time”.

She added: “I don’t know how many 13-year-olds would do this, but Kaylynn came in and handed us her phone and said I don’t want it any more, and it was a good three months before she took her phone back.”

Vicky Donald and her daughter Kaylynn, who was 11 years old when she was attacked

Mrs Donald called for a tightening of the law to stop violent videos being shared but added that there is also a personal responsibility for the young people witnessing these incidents.

She said: “Them standing back, taking out their phones and videotaping it only adds to what the bully is doing, adds to the anguish of the victim – that needs to stop.

“Don’t just stand there like everybody else and record. Be the difference.”

Research published later by the Scottish government will give a better understanding about the extent of violence, poor behaviour and disruption in schools.

It will be followed by the third of three Scottish government summits focused on tackling violence in schools.

Some areas of Scotland are already reporting a growing behaviour problem.

In 2017, school staff in Fife reported 1,221 violent incidents, but by 2022 this had jumped to 2,985 incidents.

The data from Fife Council also shows that so far in 2023, staff have reported 3,637 violent incidents – 2,788 of which were recorded as physical, while 698 were verbal incidents of violence, aggression or threat.

Since January, Fife headteachers have also reported 30 “serious” incidents of violence and aggression.

‘No real consequences for these girls’

Another parent, who asked to remain anonymous, has told BBC Scotland how she moved her daughter from a high school in Fife to one in a different council area because they felt a serious bullying incident earlier this year was badly handled.

Her daughter, who had only just started high school, was punched and kicked by two girls in a PE changing room attack that left her with a broken wrist.

The attack was filmed and uploaded on social media channels within hours.

“We were told there would be an in-school isolation for the attackers but this lasted 48 hours and meant my daughter faced the prospect of seeing these girls for the rest of her school career,” explained the parent.

“There’s been no real consequences for these girls – how can it be that they get to remain in school, I think most people would struggle to understand that.”

The parent added: “It was due to the school’s apparent lack of regard for my daughter’s safety that we pulled her from the school.”

Violence problem is a national issue

Fife Council’s head of education and children’s services, Maria Lloyd, said “a huge amount of work is underway to tackle violence and bullying” in the area’s schools but the challenges around behaviour are affecting schools across Scotland.

She added: “This is not just about Fife – unfortunately this is a national issue.

“Some of our schools are facing specific challenges and we give targeted support to schools where or when it’s needed.

“The safety and wellbeing of all our children and staff in every Fife school is a priority and we will continue to work with all our school communities to make sure our staff and young people have a positive experience at school.”

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