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Written Answers - Bullying in Schools

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 30.  Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy  asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his decision to establish a forum to help address bullying in Irish schools if he will outline a timetable for when this initiative will be implemented; if he will report on any progress that his Department officials have made with their counterparts in the North to progress this initiative; his views on developing an all-Ireland anti-bullying strategy that incorporates and builds upon the best practises currently operating in both jurisdictions and on an international basis. [19504/12]

 56.  Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the plans or strategies he intends to bring forward to combat bullying in our schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19417/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 56 together.

I recently announced details of a forum to explore ways to tackle the problem of bullying in schools. This Anti-Bullying Forum is due to take place on the 17th of May 2012 and will bring together a range of experts, support groups and representatives of the schools sector including parents and students.

It is envisaged that there will be a range of speakers on the day of the Forum which will include contributions from my Department, the National Anti-Bullying Coalition (NABC), an acknowledged academic or other expert in the field of anti-bullying and contributors from the school sector from the various perspectives of school principal, parent and pupils. The Forum will also give other stakeholders an opportunity to give their views.

The objective of the Forum will be to explore with all the relevant stakeholders how best to tackle bullying in schools and to consider what changes or updating of existing practices and procedures are required to achieve this having regard to what is feasible to implement in the current financial climate. As part of this process my Department’s officials can engage with their counterparts in the North in order to share experience and perspectives on how to improve how schools can respond to bullying.

Bullying is a problem I take very seriously and I hope that the Forum will provide an opportunity to set out a roadmap on how best to tackle all forms of bullying in our schools.

I am also establishing a working group on tackling bullying. The outcomes and recommendations from the Forum will assist the working group in its deliberations. This working group will include representatives of the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and will draw upon the expertise of a range of organisations throughout their work. In accordance with the commitment in the Programme for Government, the first phase to be addressed by the Working Group will be homophobic bullying.

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