More than 800 schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland are getting ready to take part in this year’s Anti-Bullying Week, which runs from Monday to Friday, November 17-21.
Under the theme ‘Together we will make a difference - END BULLYING NOW’, the week provides an opportunity for schools and youth groups to work with young people to explore a collective role in tackling bullying in our schools and in our communities.
The campaign is coordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) and is supported by Translink. NIABF is an interagency group funded by the Department of Education and hosted by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) NI.
The last major study into bullying in Northern Ireland, where pupils were asked about their experiences of bullying in the past couple of months, found that the most common form of bullying for pupils in both Year 6 (42%) and Year 9 (36%) remains being called mean names, being made fun of, or teased in a hurtful way.
Overall, 39% of Year 6 pupils and 29% of Year 9 pupils said they had experienced bullying in the previous couple of months.
A 2014 UK wide survey indicated that 45% of respondents stated that they had experienced bullying before the age of 18, with more than four-fifths of those young people saying it had a negative impact on their self-esteem. A third did not report their experiences to an adult.
Lee Kane, Regional Anti-Bullying Coordinator with the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), says: “The research shows that bullying is occurring and that it does have a very serious impact on the lives of children and young people. Bullying, no matter how it happens, is always wrong. It is important that we remember the hurt that bullying can cause, and think about what we can do to make it stop.
“The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum believes that bullying is an issue that concerns us all and that we all must play our part in tackling all forms of bullying behaviour. This year’s Anti-Bullying Week is calling on everyone in our community, young and old, to take a few moments to think about what they can do to say ‘no’ to bullying.”
Lee Kane adds: “The interest from schools, youth groups and parents in this year’s Anti-Bullying Week shows how important the issue of bullying is in our society. It is important that schools and youth groups take the opportunity that Anti-Bullying Week presents to discuss this issue and challenge such behaviour.
“Bullying can happen anywhere and to anyone, in lots of different ways. It could be in a physical place, such as the playground, the classroom, the lunch room or in the park. Or, it might take place online or through smart phones, such as on social networking websites, through online games or by text message. No matter where or how it happens, we all have a responsibility to make it stop.”
During this year’s Anti-Bullying Week schools and community groups will organise poster displays, themed assemblies, workshops and project activities to engage young people in understanding their role and responsibility in tackling bullying.
Anti-bullying messages will be reinforced on posters in train and bus stations across Northern Ireland. Translink’s Ursula Kelleher says: “This year’s theme encourages everyone to work together to end bullying and as the leading provider of school transport in Northern Ireland, Translink is pleased to join forces with the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum to tackle this serious issue.”
To find out more about Anti-Bullying Week go to www.endbullying.org.uk