Anti-bullying initiative must be implemented – Crowe
The Sinn Féin education spokesperson Seán Crowe has described as “wholly inadequate” the procedures and protocols that are currently in place to deal with bullying in schools.
Deputy Crowe said:
“Complaints to the ombudsman’s office on educational matters have risen from 37% in 2010 to 47% in 2011 with a high proportion relating to bullying in the classroom.
“Bullying in primary and secondary schools is often a major contributory factor that leads to mental health problems and incidents of self-harm and suicide.
“I have personally raised this matter with the Education Minister, Ruairí Quinn and it is disappointing that he currently has no plans to introduce new legislation that could improve the situation for children trapped in this environment.
“The Department of Education needs to carry out an extensive audit of how bullying is impacting on schools throughout the State. Ireland is a signatory of the Council of Europe’s Children’s Charter yet there is no training for teaching staff to deal with this issue and no clear mechanism in place where complaints can be properly and thoroughly dealt with. At the very least, it should be mandatory for teachers to receive training and up skilling in dealing with bullying.
“Sinn Féin supports the work of the National Anti-Bullying Coalition and I applaud their efforts to secure the implementation of the Safe School Programme. This ground-breaking programme introduces accredited measures to address bullying and is based on empirical research and best practise in other countries.
“The strategy needs to be implemented by the entire school community including teachers, management, gardaí, parents and students.
“Failure to address this issue will greatly undermine our education system and will lead to even more distress for children.”