Schools across Northern Ireland were today urged to plan ahead and take an active role in this year's Anti-Bullying Week.
Now in its third year, the week-long UK-wide event aims to raise awareness of the issues surrounding bullying and encourages people to work together to tackle the problem.
Running from November 19 to 23, this year the week will focus on bullying due to race, faith and culture - racist bullying and sectarian bullying - and cyber bullying.
Geraldine Loughran, chair of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), said it is vitally important that steps are taken to tackle bullying in schools.
"The Department of Education's research in 2007 found that bullying due to a pupil's race, skin colour and religion is a concern and highlighted the need to change attitudes," she said.
"The research also revealed that cyber bullying is a relatively rare form of bullying experienced by children and young people in comparison to other more traditional forms, however there has been no in-depth research into this phenomenon in Northern Ireland. We wanted to raise awareness of this at the earliest possible stage."
She continued: "School bullying can have serious consequences for children, leading to academic underachievement, physical and emotional distress, loss of self-esteem, eating disorders and truancy."
Resource packs are being issued this week by NIABF to nursery, primary, post-primary and special schools who have registered their interest in the initiative. They provide anti-bullying themed posters designed by children and young people and a DVD produced by local young people. Teachers who would like an Anti-Bullying Week schools pack should download a registration form from www.savethechildren.org.uk/niabf and return it to NIABF by October 30.