The annual awareness-raising initiative, hosted by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum, will celebrate our differences and how children and adults can come together to tackle bullying 

Schools and youth organisations across Northern Ireland will come together in the fight against bullying this November 16-20.

Anti-Bullying Week, which is in its 11th year, will employ a new theme in 2020; ‘United Against Bullying’, which has been inspired by the cohesiveness of society during the Covid-19 outbreak.

And despite new restrictions put in place to limit the spread of Coronavirus, the week will still be jam-packed with online resources, activities, campaigns and more.

Anti-Bullying Week is coordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) and supported by Translink and Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI).  NIABF is an interagency group hosted by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and funded by the Department of Education.

Pictured are Back Row (l-r) ; Gillian Cuthbert, Chair, Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) and Deirdre McAliskey, Assistant Director at the National Children’s Bureau, hosts of the NIABF and organisers of Anti-Bullying Week; with Megan and Jack, Primary 2 students at St John’s Primary School, Kingsisland, Co Tyrone.

Collectively, the member organisations and sponsors will encourage children and young people to join their classmates in celebrating their differences by embracing an Odd Socks Day to kick off the week on Monday 16th November.

A creative competition will also join the line up during the week, urging children to tap into their imaginations and get artistic, while a host of school resources, a social media toolkit detailing ways to get involved, and much more will ensure the week sends a message loud and clear that bullying has no place in our society.

Deirdre McAliskey, Assistant Director at the National Children’s Bureau, hosts of the NIABF and organisers of Anti-Bullying Week, said: “This year, more than ever, we have experienced the inspirational capacity that society has when it comes together to tackle a common challenge. By channelling our power for good, through shared efforts and collective responsibility, we can reduce bullying together. We want children and young people to parents, carers, teachers and politicians to all play a role in uniting against bullying. This is everyone’s business, not just those directly affected.”

Gillian Cuthbert, Chair, Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), added: “United Against Bullying is a very apt theme for this year’s event and despite everything that’s going on around us, we feel it is more important than ever to be consistent with our efforts to erase bullying.

“This year’s Anti Bullying Week will feature a range of campaigns including Odd Socks Day. This will be a great initiative to allow children to embrace their differences and have discussions about being unique and how we all play a part in solving this puzzle. It’s also a simple campaign that doesn’t put pressure on families and children to spend on expensive fancy dress costumes or something new, just don two mismatched socks and think how our differences make us special.”

Translink has actively supported Anti-Bullying Week for the last 12 years and will once again support this year’s campaign by delivering key messages around the theme of respect in stations, on buses and on trains, as John Thompson, Translink Health and Safety Manager, explains:

“This year’s theme really highlights how everyone of us can take responsibility and make positive changes for a more welcoming, tolerant and inclusive society through being United Against Bullying.

“As part of our Translink SPIRIT, we always putting safety first in everything we do. Our stations and services provide an excellent platform to deliver important anti-bullying messages and ensure people know support is out there if and when they need it.

“We’d like to thank everyone who supports Anti-Bullying Week helping it grow every year and we look forward to continuing to play our part in protecting the safety, health and wellbeing of young people, our employees and the wider public right across Northern Ireland especially at this time when safety is so important.

”Please remember when using Translink services to follow four simple but important steps: wear a face-covering, wash/sanitise your hands frequently, use touch-free ticket options and practice social distancing where possible.”

Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI), which has a long association with NIABF and supported its activities over many years, has come on board this year as one of the sponsors of Anti-Bullying Week. Helen McKenzie, Director, SBNI, discusses:

“SBNI are delighted once again in 2020 to support the Northern Ireland Anti Bullying Forum in their quest to raise awareness of bullying and reduce the incidence of it. We’ve joined as official sponsors to help ensure that children and young people know they should enjoy both physical and emotional safety whether at home, at play or in education or training.  We look forward to engaging creatively with children and young people in this year’s theme of ‘United Against Bullying’.”

Launching the event, Philip O’Neill, Principal at St John’s Primary School, Kingsisland, Co Tyrone, said:

“This initiative is a great way to shine a light on anti-bullying work, not just for one day but for a whole week. It will reinforce the message that bullying is not acceptable and the theme, United Against Bullying, reminds us that we are all one big community and together we have the power to make changes. It’s a very important message to send out to our children and we look forward to taking part.”

Anti-Bullying Week 2020 runs from 16 to 20 November 2020. To download a free Anti-Bullying Week resource pack and find out more about the anti-bullying creative competition check out www.endbullying.org.uk or email info@niabf.org.uk

#AntiBullyingWeek  @niabf

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