25 October, 2006 - Minister de Valera launches Making Your School Safe Initiative

The Minister for Youth Affairs, Síle de Valera T.D. today launched the Making Your School Safe initiative. This initiative is a direct response to the issue of homophobic bullying in schools.

Speaking at the launch in the National Library, Minister de Valera said "I consider it highly significant that the impetus for this initiative came directly from young people in response to their own experiences of bullying in school. The need for the initiative was also underlined by the outcomes of research led by James Norman at the School of Education in Dublin City University.

"A partnership approach will be vital to the achievement of a successful outcome to the project and, in this regard, I want to reiterate the support of my Department which funded the research undertaken by James Norman. My Department also provides grant-aid for two youth workers for BeLonG To under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme.

The Minister highlighted the need for schools, parents and the wider community to tackle bullying, peer aggression and violence directed at young people based on their sexual orientation and said "the education of students in both primary and second-level schools in relation to anti-bullying behaviour is a central part of the SPHE curriculum, which is a mandatory part of the Junior Cycle since September, 2003. The SPHE Senior Cycle curriculum currently being developed by the NCCA will also deal with issues related to bullying, including understanding the effects of homophobic bullying.

In-service training programmes have been provided to teachers to support the delivery of the SPHE programmes. In this regard I want to acknowledge the positive input made by both the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and BelonG To Youth Project to the development of the existing in-service course on sexual orientation and homophobic bullying."

The Minister congratulated Niall Crowley and his team in the Equality Authority and the BeLonG To Youth Project National Development co-ordinator, Michael Barron, for their work in developing the project.