The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum has welcomed comments from the Minister of Education, John O’Dowd, signalling his intention to introduce anti-bullying legislation to the NI Assembly ahead of the next election.

The need for such legislation was highlighted by a recent review of anti-bullying policy and practice, undertaken by NIABF.

Responding to a question from Michaela Boyle MLA, on Monday 23 June, the Minister said:

“At my request, the forum also undertook a review of current anti-bullying legislation, existing guidance to schools, current policies and practices in schools and specialist support services available.
“I intend to consider all the priority work areas identified by the review, and my officials are in discussion with the forum to agree a joint work programme for 2014 and beyond.  However, it is my intention to bring anti-bullying legislation to the House during this mandate.”

Minister O’Dowd also highlighted the work of NIABF, saying:

“Over the last year, the Anti-bullying Forum worked with 7,000 pupils in 37 schools to raise awareness and provide anti-bullying training.  It has engaged with over 1,000 young people in 26 non-school settings, providing workshops and presentations to youth groups, after-school clubs and community organisations.
“The forum has held 10 seminars aimed at enhancing anti-bullying policies and practices in schools, attracting 283 school leaders from across all education and library boards and school types.  Six hundred and forty schools and 77 organisations took part in the Anti-Bullying Forum’s anti-bullying week 2013, and over 1,700 children submitted entries for the art and creative writing competition held as part of that.”

You can watch the full discussion on the NI Assembly website by clicking here.