|Delete CyberBullying Event in Lucan|
“Since taking office as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, my Department has published reports highlighting the devastating effects bullying has on young people. According to my research, nearly a quarter of 9- 17 year olds report being bullied. We have also had a few tragic cases of cyber-bullying that have received national attention. Given that the last anti-bullying guidelines were issued to schools in 1993, there was a real need to address bullying with more effective and up to date procedures.
“Last year I worked with my colleague, Minister Ruairí Quinn, on the ‘Action Plan on Bullying’ which identified the trends and steps needed to halt bullying and abusive behaviour amongst the school community. I am also glad that prevention is to be included in all anti-bullying procedures implemented by schools. It is important that schools have a positive culture around discussing bullying so students feel that they can reach out to teachers if they are in difficulty,” said Fitzgerald.
All schools must adopt an updated anti-bullying policy by no later than the end of the 2013/14 school year. Their policy must include a greater transparency on what steps the school will take when an incident of bullying is brought to their attention, definitions of bullying to include homophobia, transphobia, racism and cyberbullying, procedures for investigating, recording and dealing with bullying as well as steps to restore relationships between students following issues. An annual review of the school’s anti- bulling policy and implementation must also be carried out by the school’s board of management.
“It is also significant that new forms of bullying, such as cyber-bullying, are included in these guidelines too. I ran successful ‘Delete Cyber Bullying’ events in Clondalkin and Lucan earlier in the year and know that this is a real concern for families. Many of our schools are taking pro-active steps to combat this behaviour amongst students and it has been helpful to my national work to learn from their experiences on this issue,” stated Fitzgerald.
"Bullying, in all it’s forms, is destructive and can have huge consequences on confidence, self-esteem and on capacity to learn. It is not a normal part of growing up, or an experience that children can learn from. It does real damage and must be tackled in our schools. We all want young people to learn in a supportive environment and I believe that these new guidelines will provide the education and prevention necessary to deal with bullying in schools. I look forward to seeing the development of these strategies and continuing my work with Minister Quinn and schools to interrupt the cycle of bullying,” concluded Fitzgerald.