YOUTH workers have welcomed proposals by a Scottish Parliament committee to tackle youth bullying.

The equalities and human rights committee said more needed to be done about the problem in schools and made 29 recommendations after hearing evidence from children as young as 12.

Conclusions included focusing on preventing bullying, not just reacting to it; making the definition of bullying simpler; adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law and making bullying a public health issue, rather than just education.

It also recommended consent and healthy relationships should be taught from the beginning of primary school in “an age appropriate manner to safeguard children” after evidence of children being coerced into sexual activity; and changing training of teachers to focus more on promoting “commonality and empathy” instead of “differences between cultures, races and traditions”.

West Dunbartonshire Council said it would work with all agencies to implement the recommendations.

The committee report said there was “a real sense that prejudice-based bullying is on the increase” with racism, gender-based bullying and harassment and bullying of young lesbian or gay people all prevalent.

Peter Divers, with the G15 Youth Project in Drumchapel, said any bullying behaviour in their members would be challenged by staff. They also run several anti-bullying workshops.

He said: “Young people sometimes do not know their actions are bullying however once pointed out and challenged in a friendly but serious manner, the message gets through most of the time.

“However, it is very important to stress that no matter if it’s a snide comment or more serious like physical abuse, all forms of bullying, intimidation and degradation are not acceptable in any form, and we would also urge parents to always be vigilant with their kids – they may well be the victim or aggressor and with their help, it could potentially save lives.”

He added: “The G15 Youth Project and all other youth projects across the city are doing great work in challenging the issues that our youths face.

“We will listen, support and take action for our members to help give them the best chance at a childhood with good memories to look back on rather than negative fear filled ones.”

West Dunbartonshire Council said the parliamentary committee visited them and met with focus groups of pupils and staff and the authorities policies.

A spokeswoman said: “The council will work with relevant bodies to consider the implementation of the recommendations. There have been many different definitions and theories about what constitutes bullying, but it’s not helpful to define bullying purely in terms of behaviour.

“Bullying is a mixture of behaviours which can impact on a person’s capacity to feel in control of themselves. This is what we term as their sense of ‘agency’.

Bullying takes place in the context of relationships; it is behaviour that can make people feel hurt, threatened, frightened and left out.”