Schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to register for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week (16-20 November 2015 inc.) and submit entries for its creative competition before the deadline of Friday 16 October 2015.

This year’s Anti-Bullying Week (ABW) theme is “What Bullying Means To Me” and will focus on our understanding of what bullying is all about.

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.

Lee Kane, NIABF’s Regional Anti-Bullying Coordinator, explains the importance of Anti-Bullying Week:

“Earlier this year the Minister for Education announced plans to introduce new anti-bullying legislation to the Northern Ireland Assembly. This legislation aims to provide a single, common definition of bullying for use in all schools in Northern Ireland.

“Bullying is one of those words that almost everyone has a good idea of what it means and of what it is in practice.  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’. However, through the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum’s 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.”

Lee continues:  “We are urging teachers, youth workers, parents and carers to speak to children and young people about this year’s Anti-Bullying Week theme, ‘What Bullying Means To Me’, so that we can improve our understanding of bullying wherever it takes place, either in school, in the playground, in our communities or online. By registering online at www.endbullying.org.uk they will receive their free resource pack, which includes presentations, activity plans and themed posters, all designed to help stimulate conversation and debate.”

Anti-Bullying Week is once again supported by Translink. Ursula Kelleher from Translink 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.”

Reminding young people of the creative competition deadline of Friday 16 October 2015, Lee Kane says: Over the last number of years the creative competition has been a focal point of Anti-Bullying Week and has attracted thousands of entries. We are inviting young people to think about their understanding of bullying, the impact it can have on our emotional health and wellbeing and how we can work together to tackle it.

“Children and young people in primary, post-primary and special education across Northern Ireland can submit entries into three categories: Art, Creative Writing and Movie under the theme ‘What Bullying Means to Me’.

“Within the art category young people can submit drawings, paintings, sculpture, photographs or anything else they consider to be art.  In the creative writing category we are calling for entries of up to 500 words in any format, such as poetry, short stories, diaries, scripts or lyrics for songs.  The movie category can be scripted dramas, documentaries, advertisements, music videos, animations, presentations or anything else you think of as long as it’s no more than 5 minutes long!”

Largymore Primary School, Lisburn, is just one of almost 400 schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland that has already signed up to the campaign. Gillian Dunlop, Principal, explains why it is such an important week for the school:

“Anti-Bullying Week gives school management, teachers and our school council the opportunity to reinforce the anti-bullying message across the entire community. During the week we use the fabulous NIABF resources to highlight what bullying is and how we can deal with it, not only in school but at home, online and in our community.

“Largymore pupils are looking forward to their week in November and the theme this year is a very personal one for all of us.”

Schools, youth groups and any organisation working with young people can register for Anti-Bullying Week and download competition entry forms from the NIABF website –www.endbullying.org.uk.  Deadline for competition entries is Friday 16 October 2015.