A series of events aimed at stamping out bullying were today launched in schools across Northern Ireland as Anti-Bullying Week began.
Nursery, primary and post primary schools across Northern Ireland have registered to participate in the UK-wide initiative which will see Ulster children taking part in a range of activities to raise awareness of the issue.
Figures released by a number of organisations in the run-up to Anti-Bullying Week show the need to address bullying in schools.
In the past year, almost a quarter of all calls - over 12,272 - to Childline Northern Ireland have related to bullying.
Department of Education figures show 43% of primary school children and 29% of post-primary in Northern Ireland perceive they have been bullied at least once, while Mencap has revealed that eight out of 10 Ulster children with a learning disability have been bullied, while six out of 10 children questioned had been physically hurt by bullies.
To launch Anti-Bullying Week a mural created by year 6 pupils from Holy Family Primary School and year 10 pupils from Balmoral High School will be unveiled tomorrow.
Eight young people from each school participated in a workshop programme hosted by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum and Blaze FX artists, Ken Maze and Glenn Black, to create a visual reminder of cyber, disabilist, homophobic, physical, racist and verbal bullying situated at Castle Lane in Belfast.
In particular, racist, sectarian and cyber bullying are to be challenged in schools throughout Northern Ireland this week as part of Anti-Bullying Week.
Geraldine Loughran, chair of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), the lead organisation for the initiative in the province, said it is important the community unites against bullying of young people.
"School bullying can have serious consequences for children, leading to academic underachievement, physical and emotional distress, loss of self-esteem, eating disorders and truancy," she said.
"We hope that schools and communities will use this week as a stimulus to commit to measures to prevent and deal with this problem by working together."
Specific examples of the broad range of initiatives taking place across schools in Northern Ireland include Edenderry Nursery School who will use Together Time stories and discussion to focus on what it means to be a good friend and how to look after each other.
Carrick Primary School will mark the occasion with dedicated class assemblies, circle time sessions, and designing anti-bullying posters.
Larne Grammar School will conduct a school survey to explore its pupils' views of bullying support mechanisms such as the Buddy Scheme, as well as organising assemblies and drama sessions.