Over 800 schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland are taking part in this year’s Anti-Bullying Week, which runs from Monday 16th to Friday 20th November 2015.
This year’s theme is ‘What bullying means to me’ and schools are being encouraged to explore with the young people they work with their individual and collective understanding of what bullying means. This is in anticipation of proposed legislation that will propose a single definition of bullying for use in all schools. The legislation, which is expected to come before the Assembly in the coming months, follows a public consultation in January and February 2015.
Anti-Bullying Week is coordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) and supported by Translink. NIABF is an interagency group hosted by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) NI and funded by the Department of Education.
Dr Noel Purdy, Chair of Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), discusses:
“Last year the Minister for Education announced plans to introduce new anti-bullying legislation to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The associated consultation process received almost 5,000 responses, more than 85% of which were from young people. Among other moves, this legislation aims to provide a single, common definition of bullying for use in all schools in Northern Ireland.
“Bullying is something that everyone has heard of, however through our work with young people and the adults that support them, it has become clear that we sometimes have different, and often conflicting, definitions for ‘bullying’. For us to more effectively tackle bullying, we must develop a common understanding of what it is.”
NIABF defines bullying as ‘the repeated use of power by one or more persons intentionally to harm, hurt or adversely affect the rights and needs of another or others’.
Dr Purdy continues: “We are urging teachers, youth workers, parents and carers to discuss this year’s Anti-Bullying Week theme, ‘What Bullying Means To Me’, with children and young people, so that we can improve our understanding of bullying wherever it takes place, either in school, in our communities or online.”
NIABF has provided schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland with themed posters and a range of learning resources to engage young people and explore their understanding of what constitutes bullying behaviour.
There will also be a special awards ceremony in Belfast on Wednesday 18th November 2015 to celebrate this year’s anti-bullying art, creative writing and movie competition. The competition, which has attracted over 2500 entries, provides a channel for individuals to tell a story or convey their views on how bullying should be tackled.
Anti-Bullying Week is once again supported by Translink. Anti-bullying messages will be reinforced on posters in train and bus stations across Northern Ireland. Translink’s Ursula Henderson says:
“Bullying can mean different things to different people but has the same detrimental impact on child development – creating fear and anxiety, tension and stress. It’s important we continue to take positive steps to build understanding of what constitutes bullying in order to address it effectively and protect an individual’s emotional wellbeing.
“By supporting NIABF we are also delivering the message that customers should always behave responsibly and with respect for other passengers and staff while travelling by bus or train.”
Largymore Primary School, Lisburn, is just one of more than 800 schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland that is taking part in this year’s Anti-Bullying Week. Gillian Dunlop, Principal, explains why it is such an important week for the school:
“At Largymore Primary School we are looking forward to using the fabulous NIABF resources to highlight what bullying is and how we can deal with it. The whole week gives our whole school, including management, teachers and pupils the opportunity to focus on reinforcing the anti-bullying message across the entire school community.”
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