Preventing school bullying of children with Special Educational Needs or Disability

The Minister for Education and Skills tasked the Anti-Bullying Working Group with developing a plan to clarify the priorities to be addressed to combat bullying in schools. The National Disability Authority (NDA) contributed to this work by investigating anti-bullying supports for children with Special Educational Needs and/or disability (SEND) to support the dissemination of good practice across the school system. To do this the NDA undertook the following:

  • A literature review on bullying and anti-bullying interventions in schools, in particular for children with SEND
  • Visits to primary, post primary and special schools that were suggested by contacts in the Education Sector as possibly demonstrating good practice
  • Discussions with experts on how to tackle school bullying, including the bullying of children with SEND
  • Post primary data analysis on bullying and disability from the Growing up in Ireland Survey

Based on the research evidence, the following key messages are emphasised in the report:
Bullying is a child protection issue.  Schools are obliged to ensure that children are safe and treat each other with respect. Understanding the group and social aspects to school bullying can help establish effective anti-bullying practices for children, including addressing the needs of children with SEND.  Leadership from the school principal is crucial in involving all stakeholders in the school.

Five guiding principles are proposed to underpin a framework for schools to ensure that their school becomes a place where staff and children are happy and safe.

  • Principle 1: A rights-based approach to protect children from bullying to govern and underpin principles and practices
  • Principle 2: Systemic interventions
  • Principle 3: Inclusive processes
  • Principle 4: Education and training
  • Principle 5: Leadership training and communication
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