06 June, 2019 - Minister Mitchell O’Connor Gives Closing Address At World Anti-Bullying Forum, DCU

Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills with special responsibility for Higher Education today (06 June, 2019) gave the closing address at the second World Anti-Bullying Forum in Dublin City University.

Speaking to over 1,000 delegates the Minister said: “I feel the very serious work over the last three days in Dublin will have been enriched by the testimonials that were provided to you by the students from Larkin College. They reminded us all that bullying for some children and young people is an everyday occurrence with devastating consequences. The Larkin students’ testimonies highlight the need for the Forum’s work, and the importance of working together as an international community. Together, by sharing expertise and valuable research, we can identify the measures that will reduce the prevalence of bullying behaviour.”

The Minister continued: “This Government is hugely committed to protecting children and young adults. The Programme for Partnership Government in Ireland sets out priorities and policy initiatives to protect and enrich the lives of children and young people. These include Better Outcomes Brighter Futures – a seven-year strategy to promote the best outcomes for every child and young person and to keep our children and young people safe and protected from harm. Furthermore the Department of Education and Skills funds the national anti-bullying website tacklebullying.ie which is used by more than 30,000 young people each year.

“There has been a huge growth in understanding among the general public of bullying, how and where it occurs, and its consequences in recent years. We have seen high profile incidents of online bullying and abuse. We have also seen how bullying still happens in the traditional ways that we understood it. From my time as a teacher, and a school principal, I know first-hand how challenging it can be to ensure that a school environment is welcoming and that every child knows their well-being will be prioritised.

“Events like this forum help us all to understand more about bullying and to find progressive solutions for a changing world, dealing with the emerging issues facing our children and young people. 

“Irish and international research reveals that physical appearance is the most common reason for being bullied, with race, nationality and skin colour the second most common reason. The LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy published last year focusses on ensuring measures are in place to enable young people identifying as LGBTI+ to achieve their full potential and achieve the same outcomes as all children and young people. 

“One of its three strategic goals is to create a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for LGBTI+ young people. 

“The National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy and the Migrant Integration Strategy also aim to combat discriminatory behaviours including any form of bullying.

“Furthermore, the Department funds the national anti-bullying website tacklebullying.ie which is used by more than 30,000 young people each year.”

During her address the Minister stated: “I am glad that the National Anti-Bullying Research Centre in DCU, with support from the EU and the Department of Education and Skills, is undertaking a number of studies on the bullying experiences of migrants, travellers and Roma children in schools.”

The Minister continued: “I want to ensure that young adults are supported to achieve their full potential and we as a nation are tackling challenging and unacceptable behaviour. We all have a duty of care to our students, to protect them from harassment and intimidation and safety from the fear and threat of it.”

In conclusion the Minister said, “What is important about events like this one, which is the largest ever gathering of experts, educators, parents and policy makers is it allows us to share and discuss international best practice on tackling bullying, cyberbullying and online safety.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Close to 1,000 participants will attend the World Anti-Bullying Forum 2019 for a three-day programme which aims to broaden understanding of bullying, harassment, discrimination, ostracism and other forms of degrading treatment and violence among children and youth and to spread knowledge to practitioners, researchers and decision-makers.

The event has been organised by the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU, in partnership with FRIENDS, International Bullying Prevention Association and UNESCO and will include contributions from: Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships; Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety Facebook Instagram; Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, Government Special Rapporteur on Child Protection; Liam O'Brien, CEO Vodafone Foundation; Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, EU Parliament Coordinator for children’s Rights; Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, Minister of State for Higher Education.