The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., today announced details of a forum to explore ways to tackle the problem of bullying in schools.
The Anti-Bullying Forum is due to take place on the 17th of May 2012 and will bring together a range of experts, support groups and representatives of the schools sector including parents and students.
The Forum will consider what changes to existing practices and policies in schools may be needed in order to effectively tackle bullying. It will identify practical steps and recommendations that could be taken in the short term to improve how schools approach and tackle bullying.
Minister Quinn said, "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 a problem I take very seriously and I hope that the Forum will provide an opportunity to set out a roadmap on how best to tackle all forms of bullying in our schools."
Alongside the Forum, Minister Quinn is establishing a Working Group on tackling bullying, including homophobic bullying, cyber bullying and racist bullying. The outcomes and recommendations from the Forum will assist the working group in its deliberations.
The first phase to be addressed by the Working Group will be homophobic bullying.
Both initiatives are in line with the Programme for Government's commitment on encouraging schools to develop anti-bullying policies and, in particular strategies to combat homophobic bullying, to support students.
A range of speakers are being invited to attend the Forum, including experts in the field of bullying, NGOs such as the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, BeLong To, the National Anti-Bullying Coalition and others from the school sector, such as students, principals, teachers, and parents.
Minister Quinn added, "A key element in dealing with this problem is the ongoing development of a school culture of awareness of the seriousness of the issue and having in place a whole school approach to dealing with it."
The Anti-Bullying Forum is scheduled to take place in the Clock Tower conference room, in the Department of Education and Skills on May 17th which coincides with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The theme of this year’s International Day is homophobic bullying.