Louise Burfitt-Dons, founder of Act Against Bullying is urging members of the public to support the Home Office’s new ASBO initiative as well as to come in behind the charity’s national decency campaign, ‘Just be decent for a day’.
‘Despite recent criticism it appears ASBOs are already proving to be an effective and practical tool in general with crime rates reducing quite dramatically,’ she said after attending the ASBO Conference at Slough Town Hall which featured prominent speakers such as Camden Council’s Ian Watson, Chief Inspector Nicola Dale of the Met and barrister Neil Addison. ‘But they are a step in the right direction in supporting charities such as Act Against Bullying. Modern bullies use effective techniques that can’t be outlawed. So they think they can’t be touched. ASBOs are sending a message that they can be.’
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ASBOs were introduced in 1999 as a way of allowing police and local authorities to use civil procedures to curb anti-social activity. They are usually issued to stop a person from behaving as a nuisance or going to a certain place, generally targeting those who have made life difficult for neighbours or others through theft, intimidation, drunkenness or violence. Breaching an order can result in arrest and can be punished by a prison term of up to five years.
‘Bullying begins with the little things that can’t be reported. But if left unchecked it could quickly escalate. Plus the trends are changing all the time,’ she said citing the new practices such as videoed ‘chav slapping’ and exclusion to cause distress.
The charity, which was begun from the proceeds of the playwright’s anti-bullying monologues, runs anti-bullying campaigns. The first, Cool to be Kind has been gathering pace both here and overseas and Burfitt-Dons hopes that 'Just be Decent for a Day' will strike a similar chord.
’Young people will do anything to be popular. For some to be seen as nice is to be seen as boring. Decent is different. It’s more macho.’
For more information about Act Against Bullying visit actagainstbullying.com.
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