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Sinn Féin publishes legislation on school bullying

The legislation will strengthen existing laws, as well as putting in place binding mandatory anti-bullying policies.

Image: Shutterstock/Suzanne Tucker

SINN FÉIN HAS published legislation on school bullying in Ireland.

Sinn Féin education spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien published the Bill in the Oireachtas to provide a legal footing to the existing guidelines that are used by schools when addressing incidents of bullying.

The TD said he believes that bullying in schools is a “serious and growing problem that greatly impacts on the mental well-being and physical health of pupils and teachers alike”. He is calling on the government to support the bill, saying that if it is enacted will greatly strengthen the existing legislation and help schools better deal with the issue.

Deputy O’Brien said:

Bullying is a complex and difficult problem that can manifest itself in many different ways and inflict long lasting scars on its victims. At its worst, the physical and psychological damage to an individual can, as we have sadly seen in recent months, be a significant factor that leads to self-harm and/or death by suicide.

He said that the bill would amend the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 in order to provide for binding, mandatory measures that will have to be adhered to by the boards of management of each school. These measures would ensure that the welfare of children and teachers are adequately safeguarded when reported incidents of bullying occur.

The Deputy added that it also attempts to provide a clear definition of bullying and seeks to address the different forms it can take, as well as the motivations that influence it.

“By placing a greater onus of responsibility on school boards of management, through the mandatory implementation of recognised ‘anti-bullying’ policies, it will establish a standardised code of practice that must be adhered too,” he said.

Read: Schools receive guidance to prevent cyber-bullying>

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