IRISH rugby star Brian O’Driscoll lent his support to the country’s vulnerable children this morning as he took a stand against bullying.
The dad-of one unveiled a building wrap featuring himself on the iconic Liberty Hall as part of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty’s new anti-bullying campaign.
The sporting legend can be seen by onlookers that are standing along the River Liffey, holding an ISPCC Blue Shield, representing his hopes to tackle the issue of bullying.
O’Driscoll has become the latest in a long line of celebrities to join the ISPCC family which includes famous faces like A-list actor Colin Farrell, hypnotist Keith Barry and Mrs Brown's Boys star Brendan O’Carroll.
‘‘Last year, Childline phone and online services received over 8,000 contacts in relation to bullying, and many more again about the impact bullying can have,’’ said the ISPCC’s CEO Ashley Balbirnie.
‘‘Calls about depression, loneliness, low self-esteem and in some cases self-harm. For many young people they feel that they have nowhere else to turn,’’ she said.
One in four young people have experienced bullying or knew someone who had been bullied according to the ISPCC’s most recent National Children’s Consultation report.
O’Driscoll was on hand with children from Talbot Senior School and the ISPCC’s Children’s Advisory Committee to unveil the new anti-bullying flag this morning.
The celebrity endorsement has become an important tool for the charity in reaching out to children and this year rugby players Rob and Dave Kearney, along with footballer Robbie Keane have also joined the team.
In 2013, as a response to the growing concern of bullying, the ISPCC launched a number of initiatives as part of the Shield Anti-Bullying campaign.
The Shield My School Programme is a self-evaluation toolkit to assist schools in understanding how effectively they are tackling bullying and to ensure that they are meeting the Department of Education’s requirements.
“Using the Shield My School toolkit challenged us to reflect on current practice in responding to bullying and what we can do to improve upon it,’’ said David Ruddy, Principal of Talbot SNS school.
‘‘We agreed to undertake follow-up actions and designated different staff to assume responsibilities for particular tasks,’’ he insisted.
The charity is hoping to raise funds this year through selling the ISPCC Shield pin via retailers such as Penneys, Elverys and Harvey Norman.
The organisation says bullying can have serious effects on a young person’s mental health, self-esteem and self-worth.
Today they launched the ‘‘Bullying Report Tool,’’ an online based bullying reporting tool which features on each school’s website.
The “Shield Flag” scheme rewards schools with a flag as a public symbol in recognition of the strong efforts being made to respond to bullying behaviour.