The Department recognises that bullying in whatever form and for whatever reason, has no place in schools. The Department has taken proactive steps to tackle bullying through development and publication of guidance. Furthermore, the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003, which came into operation on 1 April 2003, places a duty on all grant-aided schools to have an anti-bullying policy and to draw up measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.
In 2004 the Department in partnership with voluntary organisations, including Save the Children, established an Anti-bullying Forum to enable a collaborative and co-ordinated approach to tackling bullying in schools. The forum enables members to share models of best practice, disseminate information, to develop and co-ordinate joint initiatives and to ensure that schools and organisations working with children and young people are able to develop appropriate strategies to prevent and deal with bullying behaviours.
From early 2006 the Department has been funding a co-ordinator post attached to the NI Anti-Bullying Forum. She is currently involved in developing a regional anti-bullying strategy based on good practice here and elsewhere and in developing a support network for schools. In addition she will be researching best practice solutions to emerging problems such as cyber-bullying.