Blog by Dr. Chris Jenkins, Senior Policy Officer, Equality Commission NI
Anti-Bullying Week raises awareness of bullying of young people. It's an ideal time for us to reiterate our commitment to ending bullying. The Equality Commission has longstanding positions on tackling prejudice-based bullying (pdf). These include:
- challenging negative stereotypes
- encouraging inclusivity, and
- supporting leadership in schools.
One of the major challenges in this area is that we know very little about what bullying in our schools looks like. Very little data exists on who is affected by bullying, how many children are impacted by bullying, and what schools do in response to it. 2011 was the last time comprehensive research on bullying in NI schools was carried out. This is badly out-of-date.
We need the Department of Education to urgently conduct or commission updated and comprehensive research on what bullying looks like in our schools, and the forms it takes. This is essential in responding to bullying effectively.