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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

NI schools urged to ‘Reach Out’ this November to help tackle bullying

Aoife Nic Colaim, Anti-Bullying Co-ordinator, NI Anti-Bullying Forum with (l-r) Leon McCarthy, Charlie Cavlan, Caoimhe Connolly and Grace Hurley from Holy Child Primary School, Belfast, winners of last year’s Odd Socks Day as part of Anti-Bullying Week.


Anti-Bullying Week 2022, coordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), will return this November 14-18.


The event, which is in its 17th year, aims to encourage children and young people from across Northern Ireland to reach out to their peers, adults and support networks to break the cycle of bullying. 


With more resources than ever, Anti-Bullying Week 2022 will equip schools with a comprehensive suite of information to ensure their participation in the event is as productive as possible. 


Using the theme ‘Reach Out’ Anti-Bullying Week (ABW) 2022 has been developed with the help of over 300 children and young people from across the UK.


Its aim, like every year, is to create awareness of bullying, and the devastating impact it can have on children and address how to stop it.


Kathleen Toner, Chair, Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum Chair (NIABF); John Thompson, Head of Safety and Corporate Responsibility, Translink, a long-standing supporter of Anti-Bullying Week; and Aoife Nic Colaim, Anti-Bullying Co-ordinator, NI Anti-Bullying Forum are pictured with students from Holy Child Primary School, Belfast, winners of last year’s Odd Socks Day as part of Anti-Bullying Week.

This year schools will be able to access resources including assembly plans, lesson plans and cross-curricular activity ideas that will encourage pupils to think about how they can ‘Reach Out’ to address bullying online and offline.


These resources have been carefully curated with the help of professionals at Stranmillis University College and St Mary’s University College to guarantee their adaptability in any setting where children are present.


The theme of this year’s event ‘Reach Out’ is to encourage schools to reach out to their pupils and allow them to participate in how the week is marked while children are being prompted to reach out to teachers and senior members of staff to help shape their anti-bullying policies.


Familiar events including Odd Socks Day, which will take place on Monday 14 November, will return alongside the much-loved Creative Arts Competition, helpful Toolkits and the return of ABW’s School Staff Award for which nominations will close on Friday 21 October 2022.

The art competition will open for entries on Monday 14 November and close on Monday 23 January while the School Staff Award, which commends members of the school community who have gone above and beyond in their bid to end bullying, will take place at a new one-day conference. The two overall winners will enjoy an overnight stay with breakfast for two people at Europa Hotel in Belfast, courtesy of Hastings Hotels.


NIABF will also work with CBBC and CBeebies’ stars Andy and the Odd Socks again this year to celebrate Odd Socks Day with the release of their song and video that will help bring the message of ‘Reach Out’ to children across NI.


The conference element of the event is aimed at those working with children and anyone with an interest in addressing bullying.


The free event, ‘Reach out to stop bullying’ will address how psychology can contribute to bullying among children and young people in schools and communities. 


It will take place on Wednesday 16 November at The Whitla Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast where a range of psychological expertise in relation to bullying and anti-bullying practices, as well as contributions from local policy stakeholders will be included. 

Pictured are (l-r) Leon McCarthy, Charlie Cavlan, Grace Hurley and Caoimhe Connolly from Holy Child Primary School, Belfast, winners of last year’s Odd Socks Day as part of Anti-Bullying Week.


Speaking about Anti-Bullying Week 2022, Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum Chair, Kathleen Toner, said:


“Bullying affects millions of lives and can leave us feeling hopeless. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we challenge it, we can change it. And it starts by reaching out, which is the theme of this year’s event. 


“It’s a pleasure to be able to bring back our annual event to support those in schools, homes and communities here to reach out and support one another to end the bullying cycle. 


“We all have a role to play, whether we are teachers, parents, influencers or politicians; every member of the community must take a stance through behaviour and set good examples to create a kind community for everyone. 


“We encourage every school and setting where children and young people are to join us this year and help in what is a collective and fun campaign to end this social issue.”


Aoife Nic Colaim, Anti-Bullying Co-ordinator, at NIABF added:

“NIABF has worked hard to put together resources and events that will support schools and other settings every step of the way in creating awareness of bullying and the ways in which we can reach out to end it. 


“Our new conference this year will present an occasion for those in roles of responsibility to support them in learning how to work with children to combat bullying behaviour. 


“We have advice on how to get your message across and ways in which your pupils can actively participate in the week; from hosting their own assembly to helping shape your school’s anti-bullying policies.”


Translink is a long-standing supporter of Anti-Bullying Week and will once again partner with the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum to help deliver key messages around the theme of Reach Out. Commenting on the importance of this year’s campaign.


John Thompson, Head of Safety and Corporate Responsibility, said:

“Anti-Bullying Week is a great initiative which raises awareness of important issues affecting young people across Northern Ireland and we’re proud to have supported the campaign for over ten years. As Northern Ireland’s public transport provider we aim to keep people and communities better connected. Anti-Bullying Week’s theme of Reach Out reflects this aim and helps promote safe and accessible public transport for everyone.”


Mr Kieran Austin, Principal, Holy Child Primary School, Belfast, winners of last year’s Odd Socks Day, added:

“We are so thrilled to have been chosen as one of the winners from the 2021 Odd Socks Day campaign. Our children were asked to wear their odd socks into school to celebrate that it is ok to be different.


“We look forward to once again taking part in celebrating Odd Socks Day on Monday 14th November. As a school we have been taking part in Odd Socks Day for a number of years. It is always a fun day where the children can celebrate the anti-bullying message and explore differences. Each class takes part in their own way by taking photos or making fun videos to showcase the odd socks they have chosen to wear. Staff are encouraged to take part and the children love to see the socks their teachers and assistants have selected.


“We further develop an understanding of the anti-bullying message throughout the week with a variety of lessons from art to circle time. We like to tune into the Anti-Bullying/ Odd Socks Day assembly in our classrooms.”


Schools and all children and young people’s settings are encouraged to reach out to the NIABF’s website to participate in Anti-Bullying Week 2022. You can find more information here


Anti-Bullying Week is coordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), an interagency group hosted by the National Children's Bureau (NCB) and funded by the Department of Education. 



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