WREXHAM is one of the worst areas in Wales for children being subjected to bullying at school.

Shock official figures reveal more than 200 youngsters are being targeted by bullies each year.

Over the past five years that amounts to 1,250 separate attacks – the third highest number in the country after the capital Cardiff, with 2,669, and Caerphilly, with 1,450 – both of which have larger populations.

In the past year alone, 245 children came under attack at Wrexham schools.
Bullying ranges from emotional to physical attacks.

Now politicians are urging parents to watch out for signs of bullying and to listen more to their children’s concerns.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate in Clwyd South, said: “Bullying can have a severe impact on children and can scar them for life. It can knock their self-confidence. These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg as far as other forms of bullying is concerned.

“The sad fact is that bullying reflects worse on the people that do the bullying, it could be that they themselves are low on self esteem or having a troubled time at home. But it’s the children that are being bullied that then have to cope with the knock on effects.”

He added: “Children shouldn’t be afraid to speak out, and adults shouldn’t dismiss a child’s concerns. It’s not a case of a child who is being bullied needing to ‘grow-up’, ‘toughen-up’ or ‘stand-up for themselves’. Admitting to being bullied is a brave first step and they need to know that their family is there to support them.

“I remember being bullied as a child and I kept it quiet for fear of making it worse.
My parents caught on and dealt with it quickly, and I am forever grateful to them.”

The NSPCC says 14 per cent of calls to their ChildLine service in 2009-2010 was because of bullying.

Marc Jones, Plaid’s Assembly candidate for Wrexham, said: “These are frightening statistics.

“Bullying can blight a young person’s life, whether it’s physical attacks or of a more psychological kind.

“Tackling the small minority who carry out these attacks must be a priority and we must make sure children have the confidence to come forward if there are incidents like these in their schools.”

In a statement, Wrexham Council say it takes the issue of bullying in schools “extremely seriously.”

“We are working from a corporate definition of bullying as ‘a deliberate behaviour, repeated over time and intended to cause emotional or physical harm to an individual or group of people. There usually exists a power difference between the bullied and the bully which makes it difficult for the victim to defend her/himself.”

They add: “Children’s safety and their emotional health and well-being underpins our Children and Young People’s Plan and we have been taking active measures to combat the issue in recent years.”

- “In 2007, we hosted the NSPCC Anti-Bullying Campaign and, since September, we have followed an anti-bullying action plan as part of our own strategy to raise awareness and reduce incidents of bullying in schools. Guidance has been made available to all schools and partner agencies on the Intranet and will be available in hard copy this autumn.”

- “In addition to guidance, a training programme has been in progress offering all schools opportunities to train in whole school prevention and intervention in bullying.

- “We have also been setting up peer support schemes on cyberbullying and internet safety and a key intervention called Restorative Practice.

- “Other recommended interventions include our Student Assistance Programme as well as use of Circle Time, School Councils and Mediation.

-  “To make sure we are keeping in touch with young people, there is a Young People’s Anti-Bullying Committee representing Wrexham primary and secondary schools which first met in Spring 2009 and involves itself in a range of anti-bullying activities.

-"We are approaching Anti-Bullying Week, November 15-19, and many of Wrexham’s schools will be participating in awareness raising activities.

- “All our schools have an anti-bullying policy and all our secondary schools will have a member of staff with key overall responsibility for the issue of bullying in the school.”

They council added: “In 2009 we took part in the All Wales Survey of Bullying in Schools and our Wrexham results concurred with the national picture that bullying is not a serious problem for many pupils and the majority of pupils report that they have not been bullied in the past two months. However, a small proportion of pupils continue to be victims of bullying which is frequent and sustained over long periods of time and it is with these pupils in mind, that we will not be complacent.

“Bullying will continue to be a priority for Wrexham local authority and its schools and we welcome opportunities to raise it as an issue for school staff, parents and young people.”