Parents are being offered a new opportunity to help stop the bullies – and they should grab it.
Bullying activities and the targeting of individual students by other students can go undetected by families and schools. Bullying behaviour can range from physical confrontation to the more subtle exclusion from activities and our attention has been drawn to a number of high-profile instances in recent times.
One particularly stressful time for young and vulnerable students is the transition from primary to post-primary school. Parental involvement in school matters is vital at this time but all to often it declines just when the movement into the post-primary school setting presents a real challenge for the young adolescent.
Also, parents' reluctance to 'interfere' with their child's space needs to be balanced by a genuine and active engagement with their child. We need to know who our children are socialising with, especially on social media. This can be a real dilemma for parents who perhaps rely on their own school experiences to understand issues that arise in present-day school lives.
While schools try to deal with bullying, they are faced with problems such as detection and reporting, with the demarcation of what is in, or outside of, their responsibility.
Many schools address bullying through school policy development at board of management level, through increased awareness by staff and through providing information seminars and training for parents in their schools.
Now, a new anti-bullying training programme for parents of primary and post-primary school children is being rolled out nationwide, starting next week. It is a joint initiative of the National Parents Council Primary (NPC) and National Parents Council Post-Primary (NPCpp) and is funded by the Department of Education and Skills.
Parents are invited to attend a free, two-hour session, where they will learn to support their children regarding issues of bullying.
The programme will highlight the requirements for all primary and post-primary schools to ensure that anti-bullying policies and practices are in place. Not only will it inform parents of these measures but also remind us of the role we play in supporting our own children in the first instance and confirm the role parents must play in supporting the school community in dealing with all forms of bullying.
I believe in every school there is an educational 'troika' – parents, staff and board of management – a collective body obliged to place the welfare of our young people at the centre of this important initiative.
Parents can book for the anti-bullying programme by registering on line at either www.npc.ie or www.npcpp.ie.
I invite all parents to get involved in our children's future in a positive way by attending this programme and also by becoming involved in your local parents association.
Jim Moore is chief executive, National Parents Council post primary