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Importance of support for victims of bullying –Mitchel McLaughlin MLA

15 November, 2011

Sinn Féin Assembly Parliamentary Secretary to the Education Minister, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has said it’s important that various initiatives taking placeto coincide with anti-Bullying awareness week receive maximum support.

Mitchel McLaughlin said

“Education Minister John O'Dowd launched anti-bullying week campaign at Stormont today (Monday 15th) highlighting several initiatives that will be taking place in our schools and youth clubs to raise awareness of this issue by providing support services and additional information for anyone suffering at the hands of the bully.

"An emphasis is being put on cyber bullying as the advances in technological facilities on mobile phones and the internet have provided a new vehicle for bullying to take place. It is therefore very important that awareness programmes are put in place and guidance given so that children, parents and teachers are fully informed as to the dangers of unsupervised use of internet chat rooms and various web sites and mobile phones.

"Cyber bullying and malicious use of the internet can have devastating effects on vulnerable individuals particularly if the incidents remain hidden with the victims not seeking support and help. It is imperative that victims of bullying can feel confident that by exposing the issue they will receive every support and assistance that is available.

"While technology is advancing rapidly it is essential that we keep pace with the dangers it can create for those young people who frequent Internet chat rooms, social networking sites, emails etc. The advances in mobile phone capabilities add a further element to the increasingly sophisticated techniques that bullies and predators employ to torment or groom their victims, therefore we must always be on our guard in the protection of our children and other vulnerable people.

 "Of course it's not just children who are victims of bullying- an increasing number of teachers in our schools are being subjected to abuse by a minority of students and this also must be stamped out. The welfare of both teaching staff and pupils is paramount. The environment of teaching and learning must be done in a safe and secure setting."

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