23/10/2002

Report reveals 4 out of 10 pupils bullied at primary school

A report published today has found that 40% of primary school pupils have been bullied in the past year.

The Department of Education (DE) research into the nature and extent of bullying in schools in the province also found that 30% of post-primary pupils has also suffered bullying.

The report covers both the pupils’ perspective and the perceptions of school staff about bullying.

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “All children have the right to be educated in an environment which is free from intimidation, fear and unhappiness and the department is committed to ensuring that our schools can create such an environment.

“The department recognises that there is a problem of bullying in schools and commissioned this research to establish the scale and nature of bullying in our schools so that we can develop a strategy for tackling the problem from a sound evidence base.”

Elsewhere in the study, 25% of primary and 28% of post-primary pupils said they had bullied another pupil. Name-calling was the most common form of bullying in both primary and post-primary schools.

The spokesperson added: “This research demonstrates that no school can afford to be complacent and that every school should be implementing a strong and effective policy which creates an anti-bullying culture amongst pupils and staff."

The Department said it was committed to introducing a mandatory requirement for every grant-aided school to have a written anti-bullying policy and to implement it.

A guide on the issue, which is being published by Save the Children, will be issued to all post-primary schools later in the autumn.

A sampled group of 120 schools were selected for the study using a stratified sampling approach, which took account of Free School Meal band, rural/urban location and school management type.

Elsewhere, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation has voiced its concerns that bullying is not simply confined to pupils, claiming that instances of teachers being bullied in the workplace by colleagues are on the rise.

Speaking at the Bullying At Work conference at Stranmillis College in Belfast today, union spokesman Tony Carlin said: "Good employers have practises in place because they recognise that bullying is a problem. We want practises in place throughout Northern Ireland so that teachers can be protected and enjoy the dignity at work that they deserve."

(GMcG)

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