Scottish charity ENABLE Scotland has launched a three-year anti-bullying project, aimed at school pupils to try and tackle the high instance of bullying of children with learning disabilities, to coincide with Learning Disability Week.

The scheme, called Open Your Mind Not Your Mouth, includes an anti-bullying charter, written by young people, which the charity hopes young Scots will pledge their support to. Open Your Mind Not Your Mouth will provide workshops and presentations in schools across Scotland, delivered by young people who have a learning disability. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 children who have a learning disability are bullied. In May, a study for Scotland’s commissioner for children and young people highlighted that bullying of children who have a disability, including name calling and physical attacks, remains prevalent and acts as a major barrier to their social inclusion.

Peter Scott, ENABLE Scotland’s CEO said that bullying and hate crime are major issues for the charity’s members, many of whom say that problems that begin at school continue into adulthood. “This ambitious project will see a core group of people who have learning disabilities work with over 7,000 young Scots over the next three years. It is hoped that the project will leave a lasting legacy, resulting in young people being less likely to bully, or to tolerate bullying. “We hope Open Your Mind Not Your Mouth will break down some of the prejudices and misconceptions that exist, as young people begin to understand more about learning disability and the consequences of  their words and actions. The project will also help people who have learning disabilities to recognise and tackle bullying.”

Scotland’s commissioner for children and young people, Tam Baillie, added: “The report I published recently highlighted that bullying takes a variety of forms, ranging from people being deliberately excluded from conversations to physical aggression. The report also showed that even when young people were not actually bullied, the fear of it affected their sense of self and social relationships. I welcome the project being launched by Enable Scotland which will see young Scots working to help make inclusion a reality and ensure that the rights of disabled young people are respected.”

This project, which has been funded by The Scottish Government’s Equality Unit, will also work with community police officers across Scotland to help them develop further skills, knowledge and confidence to identify and tackle hate crime.