Brian O'Driscoll joins host of celebrities to tackle bullying
BRIAN O'Driscoll has become the latest in a line of celebrities who have vowed to take a stand against bullying.
The rugby star met students from Talbot Senior National School in Dublin at the launch of the third annual Anti-Bullying Shield Campaign from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).
He joins the likes of actor Colin Farrell and music mogul Louis Walsh in donning a 'blue shield' in opposition to the growing issue of bullying in schools.
Chief executive of the ISPCC Ashley Balbirnie said that the charity's Childline service received more than 8,000 calls last year from young people who had been affected by bullying.
Ms Balbirnie said they received "many more again about the impact bullying can have – 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".
The campaign encourages schools to evaluate how they handle bullying by distributing the 'Shield My School' self-evaluation toolkit. It also sends out a 'shield flag' to schools that meet a number of anti-bullying criteria, which they can then display at their school.
Today the charity also unveiled its 'Bullying Report Tool', an online tool used to report instances of bullying, which is designed to feature on each school's own website.
Principal of Talbot Senior National School David Ruddy said that the toolkit had challenged the school to reflect on how it currently responded to bullying, and what it could now do to improve upon it.
Mr Ruddy said the school had now "agreed to undertake follow-up actions and designated different staff to assume responsibilities for particular tasks" in light of the self-evaluation.