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Anti-Bullying Week is to take place with a 'united' theme

Anti-Bullying Week is to take place with a `united' theme

SCHOOLS and youth organisations will next week come together in the fight against bullying.

Anti-Bullying Week, which is in its eleventh year, will employ a new theme for 2020.

The theme - United Against Bullying - has been inspired by the cohesiveness of society during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The week is coordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) and supported by Translink and Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland.

Young people will celebrate their differences by embracing an `odd socks day' on November 16.

A creative competition will also join the line up, urging children to tap into their imaginations and get artistic.

In addition, there will be a host of school resources and social media toolkit detailing ways to get involved.

Deirdre McAliskey, Assistant Director at the National Children's Bureau, said this year, more than ever, people had experienced the inspirational capacity that society had 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," she said.

"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."

The week of activties was launched with the help of pupils and staff from St John's PS in Kingsisland, Co Tyrone.

"This initiative is a great way to shine a light on anti-bullying work, not just for one day but for a whole week," said principal Philip O'Neill.

"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."

NIABF chair Gillian Cuthbert said the theme was apt.

"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," she said.

"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."

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

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