Belfast Telegraph

Schools to do their bit for anti-bullying week

by Chris McCann

Primary, post-primary and special schools across south Belfast will mark Anti-Bullying Week by organising events and activities to support the theme ‘Where the bullying is and how we can stop it’.

Anti-Bullying Week, from November 15-19, is co-ordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF)— an interagency group which is |hosted by Save the Children and supported by Translink and Cool FM.

This year’s theme has been determined by research from the Department of Education, which indicates pupils in school are more likely to experience bullying outside the classroom.

Among the sample of year six pupils, almost half of respondents stated that bullying took place in the playground/athletic field during lunch or break times.

While for year nine, 38% of pupils said bullying took place in hallways or stairwells. Other locations mentioned included locker rooms, lunch halls, in classrooms when the teacher was absent and even in the toilets.

Lee Kane, NIABF’s regional anti-bullying co-ordinator, stressed the importance of Anti-Bullying Week, now in its sixth year.

“Poster displays, themed assemblies, lesson activities and circle time exercises are just some of the activities taking place to engage pupils in understanding their role and responsibility in tackling bullying,” he said.

“Many schools will also be participating in a special ‘playground chalk messages’ initiative, which encourages children and young people to think about bullying, about where and how it happens, and to develop their own messages to help make it stop.

“The pupils will be given a piece of chalk and asked to write or draw their anti-bullying message in the school playground, perhaps in a location where bullying could take place. These chalk messages will explain how pupils and teachers, working together, can ensure that bullying is not a part of the school day.”

The NIABF also recently ran a very successful schools competition to further engage pupils in the initiative.

Pupils were asked to submit ‘Art’ or ‘Performance/Multi-Media’ entries using the theme of ‘Where the bullying is, and how we can stop it’.

A range of these entries will be exhibited across Northern Ireland during Anti-Bullying Week.

The category winners and their schools will attend a special prize-giving ceremony on Tuesday November 16 at the Crescent Arts Centre in the south of the city.

Anti-bullying messages will be disseminated to the public through poster displays at train and bus stations across the province.

For further information on Anti-Bullying Week 2010 log on to www.niabf.org.uk or contact Lee Kane, regional anti-bullying co-ordinator, on 028 9043 2828.

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