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Written Answers - Bullying in Schools

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 228.  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  if he will provide a list of the organisations and individuals invited to participate in the forum on bullying; the issues related to bullying that are expected to be examined; if he will provide a copy of the agenda for the meeting; if cyber bullying will be considered; if a specific budget will be put in place to implement any measures that come out of the forum or will the measures be examined on a cost neutral basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23931/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn 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 agenda for the Forum and the list of organisations attending the Forum will be made available on my Department’s website shortly.

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. The work of the Forum and any recommendations from it must be cognisant of the current very difficult and challenging budgetary environment that is resulting in all areas of the public sector, including schools, having to operate on a reduced level of resources for the foreseeable future. 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.

[381]I have also established a working group on tackling bullying in schools, including homophobic bullying, cyber bullying and racist bullying. The outcomes and recommendations from the Forum will assist the working group in its deliberations. This working group includes 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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