Written Answers. - Bullying in Schools.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

123 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to tackle the problem of bullying in primary and secondary schools, in view of the fact that in some cases this can lead to life threatening incidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21941/02]

I am very aware of the issue of bullying in schools. My Department has moved to tackle the issue on a number of fronts. The education of students in both primary and post-primary schools in relation to anti-bullying behaviour is a central part of the social, personal and health education curriculum.

At present the SPHE programme is part of the curriculum in every primary school. By September 2003 it will be a mandatory component of the junior cycle in all second level schools. The content of the programme reflects current best practice in the area of educating children in relation to bullying.

As part of school development planning schools are advised to have stated policies and to develop plans on discipline, health and safety and countering bullying behaviour. Parental involvement in the planning process is encouraged. Through their representation on the board of management and through parents' associations parents can readily be consulted in the clarification and development of these policies and plans.

Guidelines were put in place in 1994 as an aid to schools in devising their anti-bullying strategies. Their purpose was to assist schools in devising school based measures to prevent and deal with instances of bullying behaviour and to increase awareness of the problem among school management authorities, staff, pupils and parents.
The national educational psychological service is also available as a support service to schools in relation to students who encounter difficulties.