Charity head Louise Burfitt-Dons warns about the dangers of trendy tribalism

Charity head Louise Burfitt-Dons warns about the dangers of trendy tribalism

The head of a leading anti-bullying charity has issued a warning on their website about the dangers of trendy tribalism. It’s ultra cool to be part of a group. So much so the Fear Of Being Dropped is now pervasive and fueling bullying.

‘The slogan “Don’t be a bystander” is a great soundbite, but doesn’t work,’ says charity Head Louise Burfitt-Dons. ‘Not if your social status, future career or job is at stake.’

The anti-bullying activist who founded the charity in 2000 stood for Nottingham North for the Conservatives in 2015. She resigned from the party over the treatment of candidates and activists, one who took his life in September 2015.

As published in Brit News.

‘Shocked and appalled’ – Campaigner Louise Burfitt Dons defends a father facing prosecution for confronting bullies

‘Shocked and appalled’ – Campaigner Louise Burfitt Dons defends a father facing prosecution for confronting bullies


Humanitarian Louise Burfitt Dons insists she is ‘shocked and appalled’ at the prospect of a father facing prosecution for confronting bullies who tormented his children.

In a heart rendering Facebook post, shared more than 200,000 times, Christopher Cooper describes how his two youngest children, Millie, 11, and Braiden, aged nine, were verbally and physically abused daily by school bullies.

Cooper, a midwife, felt he was left with ‘no other option’ than to take matters into his own hands as North Walney Primary School and police claimed nothing could be done as it was ‘outside school grounds’.

“Braiden had his arm broken and underwent surgery,” Cooper said. “On another occasion he was held in a crucifix position with his arms stretched out to the side, so another child could repeatedly punch him in the stomach.

“It was left to me to challenge him [the bully]. I told him straight to leave my kids alone or there would be consequences. I didn’t touch him, I certainly didn’t threaten him, although trust me how I didn’t do either I don’t know. The result – I am now under investigation by the police, and at risk of losing my career. What an absolute joke.”

Burfitt Dons, founder of the Act Against Bullying, explains she was left stunned when reading about Cooper’s case.

“It’s like we’ve got our values back to front,” she told talkRADIO “There are so many different terms for bullying, yet when you look for punishments there is nothing there.

“Yes, we all have learn to deal with the fact here will be some people who don’t like us but this is just thuggery.

“Unfortunately, there are many cases out there like this one.

“But the best thing that can happen to a case like this is for it to end up in the press, being debated and talked about; exactly like we’re doing today.”

This epidemic of sexual bullying needs to be stopped

This epidemic of sexual bullying needs to be stopped

First published on Conservative Home on May 2nd 2016

In September last year, it was revealed that there were 5,500 sexual offences recorded in UK schools between 2011 and 2014. Within these figures, there were 4,000 alleged physical sexual assaults and more than 600 reported rapes. So, last week, the Women and Equalities Select Committee, chaired by Maria Miller, launched an enquiry – and about time too. To hear of a child being raped by anther pupil in school grounds is horrific. But to counter this criminal activity with more sex education for young children, as proposed by the Labour Party, is not just a cop-out but deliberate obfuscation of a school bullying problem which has obviously got way out of control.


Many new forms of bullying have been developed over the last hundred years, particularly since the widespread use of the internet

If you google “bullying”, you will access gigabytes worth of definitions of what constitutes it, how it is comes about, and which minority group is more prone to it. Some examples are: gay, cyber, military, legal, disability, prison, trans-gender, workplace, emotional. These categories have been added to, year on year, since the mid-1970s when Dan Olweus, a Swedish-born research professor of psychology, first made the subject of school harassment and its effects on children newsworthy enough to be taken seriously at all.

The recent epidemic of sexual harassment is just the latest classification. It is also the result of our inability to come up with effective punishments for bullying behaviour that will not only stem the tide, but also sit comfortably within the uber-liberal ideals of modern society. Despite circle groups, buddy clubs and thousands of leaflets informing teachers, parents and students on the latest “acceptable language” to counter it, the same problem keeps emerging like the many-headed hydra, reinventing itself in more graphic and insidious forms.  How do we stop it? And if we can’t, how do we control the excesses?

Simply put, bullying is not about tittle-tattle, kids falling in and out of friendships or the odd sideways glance. Neither is it about the natural conflict that occurs when humans are brought together and obliged to interact. I had an e-mail from someone the other day who suggested that being called a “cissy” should be deemed harassment. But should it?  Don’t we run the risk of over-obsessing with verbal offence, such as the radical feminist lobby trying to outlaw the use of  “don’t be a girl” as provocative, sexist and dismissive. At what point do we leave speech alone?

Bullying is abuse of power, domination and intentional harm.  Physical bullying is clear to spot because there are usually the tell-tale bruises, cuts and torn clothes. So, too, is mobbing, which is when an unfortunate victim is singled out in a school hallway, playground or bus, mostly because this sort of stuff tends to end up going viral on You Tube.  However, the majority of cases are far less obvious.

At school, “power” usually means numbers or rank of popularity.  When a group of five friends in a “cool” group organise situations specifically to deliberately ignore or “blank” someone either physically or emotionally, you have the typical case of school bullying, particularly where girls are concerned.  It starts that way, and then, because of how human beings usually react to that group rejection, the victim soon begins to self-exclude.  By the time the matter is out of hand enough to be reported to any authority figure, the trail leading back from the victim to the perpetrator is as obscure as that leading from a  tax avoider to his offshore bank accounts.  This bullying “evidence” can also involve the convolutions of the internet – fake accounts, mobile phones, texting and the dark web.  So it is unsurprising that children today have to be as savvy about exposure and its consequences as a top-rated celebrity PR.

Sexual bullying is just the latest addition to this complex, developing bullying scenario.  With changes in society, highly sexualised behaviour among pupils is now a norm.  It is not even considered anti-social. Attributed labels that would have shocked and caused pain some years ago, such as “slag” or “slut”, take on different connotations today, as they are used as popular banter on Facebook.

Harder still to grapple with is the sexting phenomenon.  Circulation of explicit photos either round schools or on the net is definitely on the rise. It is indeed a serious problem. Posting nude pics has already resulted in several suicides and depression. However, with teenage girls photographing themselves in their underwear and using sex selfies as their Facebook Profile it is hard to begin to unravel who is responsible when it all goes wrong. I personally know of one case in which – although entirely self-imposed – the bullying, ridicule and scorn arising from embarrassing pictures online led one victim to take her own life.

However, rape and assault is in another category altogether. The clue to this is in the terminology. A questionnaire by BBC Panorama aimed at young people aged 11 to 19 in schools and youth clubs found that 10 per cent of the 273 respondents had been “forced” to do something sexual, and just as many again had been intimidated by seeing it happening to somebody else. This is clearly bullying activity.

Parents have been complaining to me for the past 16 years that the real problem is exploitation by hardened bullies of the lax punishments meted out to offenders.  But while no-one wants to neither see a return to corporal punishment, nor can we allow innocent children to be exposed to sexual harassment and rape within our schools walls, and just turn a blind eye.

Why Kindness and Politics Don’t Mix

First published on Conservative Home on October 15th 2015

Is Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to put kindness back into British politics a helpful act or just a baseless ploy?

On November 13th 2010 I launched Kindness Day UK on BBC Breakfast. World Kindness Day had been celebrated in several countries since its inception in Tokyo in 1998, yet to date no one had given the idea a push over here.

Schools and charities have used the day since then to promote good deeds or raise awareness of their humanitarian work.

I’m put on the spot when people ask, as they do, ‘What’s the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?’

Anything you say in response sounds a bit lame because they are usually the tiny things that count the most, but which don’t mean much to anybody else.

But kindness is recognised as a value in many cultures and religions, marked by a pleasant disposition like gentleness or a smile, and a genuine concern for others.

However, even the ‘disposition’ part of this definition is open to interpretation. A smile is not always welcome, and in countries like France it can be confused with the leer of stupidity.

Certain manners that convey kindness and respectful behaviour that we teach in this country don’t always travel either. In the UK, for example, while it is polite to append the word “please” to any and all requests, in the US it is not necessarily taken that way.

But is Jeremy Corbyn on to something by appointing himself as custodian of the charitable side of politics?

Firstly, it’s a back to front gesture. Kindness is something which you acknowledge, which is done to you, which you are the recipient of first and then return – not the reverse. Doing it the other way round is the same as the proverb: self-praise is no recommendation.

Secondly, his appointment of the hard-Left MP John McDonnell as Chancellor is more telling about his intolerance than his compassion. Here is someone who once said he would like to ‘go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher’, and has also not apologised for repeating comments about the then-employment minister, Esther McVey, being lynched.

Kindness and politics can only mix to a certain extent. Decisions that have to be made in Westminster are considerably more complex than helping someone with their weekly shop or buying a copy of the Big Issue.

Take the Assisted Dying Bill. Is it kind to bully vulnerable seniors into ending their life so that scheming kith and kin can get their hands early on the keys of their bungalow?

But then is it kind to force sick and frail people, often in pain, to make a lonely trip to a faraway land to be able to end their life as they choose?

Or Syria: who is the kindest force in the region? Is it Jihadism which beheads, maims, rapes and tortures out of so called kindness to Allah by getting rid of infidels? Or is it Assad’s army which, when employing bombs and chemicals, thinks it is performing a kind act in protecting their own as well as the vulnerable minorities from Isis?

Or there is the benefits dichotomy: is it kind to a person who gets up at six in the morning to go to work to pay more tax to cover the person who doesn’t?

But is it kind to expect people who have fallen on hard times or who have lost their jobs to have their benefits capped so they have to move home?

The reality is that when kindness gives to one person in a political sense, it usually takes from another.

But where Jeremy Corbyn’s message may well indeed resonate with voters in his message is through our society’s unique response to compassion.

Pleasant chats and being courteous to one another is part of our Britishness. We like being seen as helpful, and are proud of our National Health Service and hearty pub life. Many of us hate the thought of that in decline.

So anyone who touches on these ideals by even suggesting we could be kinder is instantly appealing. Maybe it attracts us with a sense of nostalgia for a time when everyone was seemingly nicer to one another, before mobiles and computers.

It is unsurprising some people think we are all are in need of a dose of fellow love. For example, without it, how do we deal with the viciousness on the internet?

A study conducted by the think tank Demos, which spent two weeks in September analysing every single racist tweet sent in the world, recorded 6,777,955 slurs.

What are we to do about this stuff in universities? The recent task force investigating how lad culture could be leading to girls feeling endangered on campus is likely to find what female students are missing out on most is a good old bit of traditional British chivalry.

When a full crime is not committed, where as in the case of much of the bullying online it is hard to judge the intent of the activity, we are at the mercy of kindness. How else can we enforce restraint and civility?

But we do not need a far-left government that will lead us to moral victory with its political chicanery. The individual, decent, caring acts of the British public mean that the UK is considered one of the fairest, and most considerate, countries in the whole world.