AN ACTION PLAN on Bullying has been launched today by Ministers Ruairi Quinn and Frances Fitzgerald.
The plan sets out 12 actions, which the Minister for Education and Skills and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said will help prevent and tackle bullying in primary and second level schools.
According to the report, preventing and tackling bullying “requires support from parents and wider society and is not a problem schools can solve alone”.
Minister Quinn has requested his officials to ensure that work on implementation of the plan begins immediately in consultation with teachers, parents and management bodies at first and second-level. He has ring-fenced €500,000 to support the implementation of the action plan.
Among the 12 actions recommended by the working group are proposals to:
- Support a media campaign focused on cyber bullying specifically targeted at young people as part of Safer Internet Day 2013
- Establish a new national anti-bullying website
- Begin development immediately of new national anti-bullying procedures for all schools, to be in place by next year
- Devise a co-ordinated plan of training for parents and for school boards of management
- Provide Department of Education and Skills support for the Stand Up! Awareness Week Against Homophobic Bullying organised by BeLonG To Youth Services
Minister Quinn also announced that the Department of Education & Skills will be supporting a revision of the Stay Safe Programme for primary schools. The revised programme will address new forms of risk, including cyber bullying. He notes in the plan that he was concerned that the Department’s guidelines on bullying had not been updated since 1993.
The Action Plan on Bullying contains a number of other recommendations for further consideration, including:
- A proposal to establish an Anti-Bullying Implementation Group
- The Department of Education and Skills to engage with book publishers who produce materials for schools to address the issue of stereotyping
- Development of a new National Framework for Anti-Bullying
- Research into how other countries investigate procedures in other jurisdictions to see if these could be used to improve the Irish system
- Encourage social media and telecommunications companies and internet service providers to continue to work with State Agencies, NGOs, parents and young people to raise awareness of cyber bullying and how it can be dealt with.
The plan follows the Anti-Bullying Forum jointly held by Ministers Quinn and Fitzgerald in May 2012.
At the launch, Minister Quinn said:
Bullying can have a devastating effect on our children and young people that can sometimes end in tragedy.
Minister Fitzgerald said that today “is a significant step in the Government’s absolute commitment to address the serious impact which bullying continues to have on our children”. She noted that this Action Plan on Bullying is the first of its kind in Ireland.
The action plan can be read online here. It has been welcomed by a number of TDs.