The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., today (Thursday 17th May) opened an Anti-Bullying Forum at the Department of Education and Skills, to explore ways to tackle the problem of bullying in schools.
This is the first time that the Department, together with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, has hosted a dedicated forum together with students’ and parents’ representatives, rights and anti-bullying activists, and other experts, to address this important issue.
Opening the Forum, Minister Quinn said: “Bullying is a problem which I take very seriously. Bullying in school can ruin a young person’s enjoyment of some of the most important years of their life. In extreme situations it can also, tragically, lead to a young person taking their own life.”
“It is therefore my fervent hope that today’s Forum will provide us with the basis on which to develop a roadmap on how best to tackle all forms of bullying in our schools.”
“I am very anxious that the Forum focuses on identifying the practical steps and recommendations that could be taken in the short term to improve how schools approach and tackle bullying.”
More than 100 stakeholders including representatives of student, parent and school management groups, teacher unions, support groups for victims of bullying, rights activists and bullying experts are attending today’s forum.
The agenda for the Forum sees presentations from a variety of key interest groups. There is also the opportunity for broad discussion from all attendees in the afternoon session. Members of the public can make submissions by email to the Department at email@example.com up to the 29th June 2012. Details of the Forum and the format for submissions are available on the Department’s website www.education.ie.
Alongside the Forum, Minister Quinn has established a Working Group on tackling bullying, including homophobic bullying, cyber bullying and racist bullying. The outcomes and recommendations from the Forum’s work will assist the Working Group in its deliberations.
The Working Group is made up of representatives from the Department of Education & Skills (DES) and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will also draw upon the expertise of a range of organisations during the course of its work.
The first phase of this will concentrate on homophobic bullying as per the commitment in the Programme for Government. The Working Group will also be reviewing the 1993 DES Guidelines on Countering Bullying in Schools in order to update them to reflect the realities of modern communication technology and other contemporary issues.
The Forum is being webcast live via the Department’s website www.education.ie