State’s anti-bullying action plan launched

by Gazette Reporter
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A new action plan introduced by the government last week could be set to help teachers, pupils and parents in Fingal and throughout the country tackle the scourge of bullying.
The action plan on bullying is the first of its kind to be introduced in Ireland and it “hopes to end the misery and fear endured for too long by many of the country’s young people at the hands of bullies.”
A total of €500,000 has been ring-fenced by the Government to support the implementation of the new action plan this year, which will include a campaign on cyber bullying and the development of national anti-bullying procedures for schools across the country.
According to Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, the plan will be warmly welcomed by schools in Fingal.
“Bullying, whether it is online or in the school corridor, can have a very serious impact on children and young people. Your confidence and self-belief can be shattered as a result of taunts and harassment from your peers. This can have a lasting impact well into adulthood, and it is something that we should all be working together to address,” he said.
“As a former member of the board of management of several post-primary schools over the years, I think it is particularly appropriate to introduce such steps to focus on the reduction of bullying within our education system,” he continued.
In 2012, the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn TD, and the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, held an anti-bullying forum, which invited submissions from interested parties and stakeholders.
This has fed into the new Action Plan on Bullying, which includes 12 actions and a series of recommendations and has the potential to make a real difference in how the problem is tackled in schools.
As part of the plan, a new national anti-bullying website will be established to give parents, teachers and pupils advice and information on how to deal with bullying. New national procedures will be developed for all schools, which will include a template for recording incidents of bullying, to be in place by the start of the next school year.
“The problem of bullying is nothing new; unfortunately children have been bullied for as long as they have been going to school. But cyber bullying has added a new dimension to the problem; and we all need to face the challenge of how to tackle online harassment and abuse. As part of the action plan, a media campaign focused on cyber bullying will be launched in early February, specifically targeted at young people.”
The action plan includes plans to review current training procedures for teachers, to ensure they are getting the ongoing support they need to effectively tackle bullying. A number of recommendations have also been made on the need for schools and community groups to work together in the development and implementation of anti-bullying policies: “Bullying is not confined to any one space; and it must be tackled in a cross-community fashion.”

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