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Assembly backs legislation to protect children and young people from bullying

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The Assembly has given its backing to new legislation to protect children and young people from bullying in schools.

The Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill, brought forward by the Education Minister John O’Dowd, passed Final Stage in the Assembly today.

The legislation will provide a common definition of bullying; require all schools to centrally record incidents of bullying, their motivation and their outcome; and require the Board of Governors collectively to take responsibility for the development, implementation, monitoring and periodic review of the school’s anti-bullying policies and procedures.

Speaking about the Bill Minister O’Dowd said: “The issue of bullying is one familiar to all of us and in this day and age it presents greater challenges than ever before. Schools must be welcoming places and therefore issues such as bullying must be dealt with to ensure that all young people enjoy their school days and make the most of their time there to ensure they reach their full potential.

“This Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill provides a clear and consistent framework for schools to follow and will help ensure that all pupils are being protected to the same best-practice standards.

“I am particularly heartened by the fact the passage of this Bill was supported by all parties and I would like to thank the Education Committee and MLAs for their engagement and support. I believe this sends a clear message that this Assembly is united in its desire to act on the issue of bullying in our schools.

In conclusion, the Minister said: “I welcome the passing of this Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill. This is a positive step forward, one which will improve schools abilities to tackle the problem as rigorously and effectively as they can and will ultimately help ensure that more children are protected and avoid the damage which bullying can cause.”

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