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Childline received 11,000 calls about bullying last year

Latest figures from the ISPCC show that 26 per cent of young people in secondary school have been victims of bullying, or know someone who has. Forty per cent of 9 year olds were bullied in the last year.

Mark Feehily pictured at the Westbury Hotel for the launch of the ISPCC campaign
Mark Feehily pictured at the Westbury Hotel for the launch of the ISPCC campaign
Image: Leon Farrell//Photocall Ireland

NEW FIGURES FROM the ISPCC show that more than a quarter of secondary school pupils have been victims of bullying, or know someone who has been bullied.

The news comes as the charity’s Anti-Bullying Week is launched by Westlife member Mark Feehily. The week runs until 30 April and aims to emphasise that bullying should not be seen as a ‘rite of passage’ or a ‘normal’ part of childhood.

The ISPCC said that bullying “should not be tolerated and must be taken seriously”.

Bullying is a critical issue, the impact of which can be detrimental to a young person’s life and wellbeing; it can negatively affect self-esteem and feelings of self-worth, increase social isolation, lead a child to become withdrawn and depressed, anxious and insecure. In desperation, some young people even consider suicide.

To mark anti-bullying week, the ISPCC is urging the people of Ireland to join the fight against bullying and child abuse by wearing the ISPCC Shield.

A number of well-known celebrities including Olly Murs, Cher Lloyd, The Wanted, Colin Farrell, Westlife, Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip, Jedward, Louis Walsh, Laura Whitmore, Mrs Brown, Keith Barry and Saoirse Ronan, along with Mark, are supporting the campaign by being photographed with the ISPCC Blue Shield.

Mark said at the launch yesterday:

Having experienced bullying at first hand I know how devastating it can be and how much it can affect not only your childhood but your adulthood too. I am still dealing with issues that occurred years ago on a school corridor in Sligo.

Mark was joined at the launch by The Voice contestant Kiera Byrne who said bullying “has left me completely scarred”. Both Kiera and Mark said they had found solace in music.

Recent statistics and the volume of calls to Childline give a sense of the scale of the issue:

  • In 2011, Childline received almost 11,000 calls from children and young people in relation to bullying
  • 26 per cent of young people in secondary school have been victims of bullying, or know someone who has
  • 22 per cent of young people in primary school have been victims of bullying, or know someone who has
  • 40 per cent of 9 year olds were victims of bullying in the last year.

A number of young people who contacted Childline for support described their experiences:

  • “Bullies have been ruining my life at school since September.”
  • “I’m so scared I don’t know what to do.”
  • “I hate the way I look. People call me names and make up rumours about me. I want it to stop!”
  • “I feel completely isolated.”

CEO Ashley Balbirnie said:

Through the ISPCC’s Anti-Bullying Week we want all children in Ireland to know that bullying is not acceptable, and that we as a society are willing to fight for children.

The ISPCC’s dedicated Bullying Support line – 1800 66 66 77 – is available 24 hours a day for the full week of the campaign.  Young people, parents, teachers and schools can ring this Freephone number for support and advice around the issue of bullying. They can also access a new microsite which has downloadable resources offering tips and advice.

The blue ISPCC Shield is available for €2 from selected outlets nationwide.

Read: Quinn confirms anti-bullying forum to take place in May>

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