The number of children reporting bullying has substantially increased in the past year, according to figures released by Childline.
One in four children calling the helpline between April 2004-2005 complained of bullying, the charity said.
Over 5,000 calls were received over the summer holidays in 2004 alone, an increase of 2,000 on the same period in the previous year, and expectations are that roughly the same number will call the helpline this summer.
The figures show the need to be on the alert for children scared of returning to school, the head of the charity’s Partnership with Schools programme, Lindsay Gilbert, said.
Bullying can be overlooked by schools at the beginning of the term, at a time when pupils are often at their most vulnerable, she said.
“Sometimes it can be easy for schools to think that bullying has gone away over the summer break, and when a new school year begins children may have new teachers who don’t know there is a problem.”
Parents’ calls to Kidscape’s helpline also shoots up at the beginning of the new school year, Nikki Kerr, the charity’s projects manager said.
“Some of the children have been bullied in the summer term and hope that the situation will have resolved itself by the time they return, but find that it is still there.”
She added that although in general there was a high level of awareness of the risks of bullying for those starting at a new school, there was less focus from schools for pupils in later years.