News that Yorkshire is the only region in the country to record an increase in the number of pupils being excluded for bullying in the last two years can be looked at in two ways - sadness that the issue is so prevalent within the region’s schools or offering a level of reassurance that a problem that so deeply affects so many people’s school days is being taken seriously.
What is not in doubt is the terrible impact bullying has on its victims - and the way in which social media is making it ever-harder for children to protect themselves from abuse.
As Pat Sowa from Harrogate movingly explains in today’s newspaper, bullying was a contributory factor in the death of her son Dom, who died by suicide at the age of 17 after being badly bullied when he came out as a gay at 14 both in the classroom and on the internet.
Social media has many positive aspects but one of its most negative ones is undoubtedly that bullying no longer stops at the school gates, taking away the sanctuary that home life can offer for young people who are in the firing line from their peers.
Almost 350 students were excluded for bullying across Yorkshire last year but the reality is that number will only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of cases happening within our schools.
Read more: The silent epidemic of bullying
After her family’s experiences, Ms Sowa’s call for schools to take a proactive approach which makes it difficult for bullying to flourish and to stamp down on it when it does occur should be taken seriously. “I am going to have a Dom-shaped hole for ever. My biggest thing now is to try to stop this happening to any other family,” she says.
Bullying is all-too-common, but more can be done to minimise its often-tragic impact.