Barnardo’s has called on schools across Wales to make sure they are implementing anti-bullying polices after a survey showed 58% of Welsh children have witnessed homophobic bullying.

Barnardo’s Cymru, the Welsh arm of the UK’s largest children’s charity, received 644 responses to its questionnaire from school children, youth groups and users of the charity’s numerous services in Wales.

The research has been released to mark the start today of Anti-Bullying Week.

It found 58% had witnessed bullying of children and young people due to their sexuality; 58% had seen bullying as a result of disability or special needs and 51% had witnessed bullying due to race or cultural background.

84% of all respondents felt more should be done to stop bullying. Comments sent by respondents mentioned the need for: More support groups in schools for LGBT and disabled children; A Wales wide anti-bullying scheme that combines all the existing models of good practice; An anti-bullying standard to be set for schools to aspire to and form part of the inspection process and community support police to help stamp out bullying that occurs outside of school (in line with the hate crime framework that is currently applied to adults).

Vikki Butler, policy and research officer for Barnardo’s Cymru, said: “We have had a terrific response to the questionnaire which shows that the issue of bullying is very serious and at the forefront of children’s minds.  If we are to reduce bullying and tackle it effectively, we need to believe the accounts of children and young people and free schools from the stigma that comes with acknowledging bullying.”

“The comments indicate once again that the Welsh Government’s schools anti-bullying guidance ‘Respecting Others’ published back in 2003 and updated in 2011 hasn’t been effectively implemented across schools.  Many schoolchildren that are being bullied could be saved from horrific experiences if there was more support.”

She added: “There are anti-bullying resources currently delivered by numerous organisations in different parts of Wales but it would make sense for one central resource to be available for teachers and others working with children and young people. This should be supported by a national anti-bullying action plan.”

Meanwhile, gay rights charity Stonewall has launched a new campaign to tackle homophobic language in schools, with the slogan “Gay. Let’s get over it”.