Dáil Éireann - Volume 599 - 09 March, 2005

Written Answers. - Bullying in Schools.

  271. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans she has to monitor the effectiveness or otherwise of bullying policies in schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8112/05]

  Ms Hanafin:I am acutely aware of the issue of bullying in schools and my Department has in place a multi-faceted strategy to tackle the issue. The education of students in both primary and post-primary schools on anti-bullying behaviour is a central part of the social, personal and health education, SPHE, curriculum.

SPHE is now a compulsory subject at primary level and in the junior cycle of post-primary schools. The SPHE curriculum provides for the development of personal and social skills, including self awareness, respect for others, self esteem and communication skills, all of which are important elements in addressing the issue of bullying. In primary education, the issue of bullying is addressed in the SPHE curriculum in the strand entitled “Myself and Others”, from infant classes onwards. In second level education, the issue of bullying is addressed from first year onwards in the SPHE curriculum at junior cycle, in the module on belonging and integrating.

My Department, in its guidelines on countering bullying behaviour in schools, has provided a national framework within which individual school management authorities meet their responsibilities for implementing effective school based policies to counter bullying. These guidelines were drawn up following consultation with representatives of school management, teachers and parents and are sufficiently flexible to allow each school authority to adapt them to suit the particular needs of the school.

Each school is required to have in a policy in place which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour, within the framework of an overall school code of behaviour and discipline. Such a code, properly devised and implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools. The school development planning initiative plays an important role in supporting schools to raise [859] awareness of the need for anti-bullying measures. In addition, my Department funds a number of support services and pilot initiatives which provide direct assistance to schools in dealing with the issue of bullying.