NI: Commencement order for anti-bullying law signed

NI: Commencement order for anti-bullying law signed

Peter Weir

A commencement order has been signed to bring legislation providing a legal definition of bullying and requiring schools to record incidents of bullying into effect in September.

The Addressing Bullying in Schools Act (NI) 2016, which was passed with the support of all political parties, will commence from 1 September 2021, more than five years after it received royal assent.

It provides a common definition of bullying; establishes a new duty for schools to record all incidents of bullying, their motivation and their outcome; and requires the school Boards of Governors (BoG) collectively to take responsibility for the development, implementation, monitoring and periodic review of the school’s anti-bullying policies and procedures.

The Department of Education said the September date would allow schools some time to update their policies to align with necessary requirements and enable them to consult with parents, carers, pupils and staff.

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “The Addressing Bullying in Schools Act will bring renewed focus for schools to this very important issue and deliver greater consistency in the treatment of all forms of bullying.

“Bullying is a complex issue with no single, easy solution, however, we all have a part to play in creating a society and an education system in which bullying behaviour is always challenged and dealt with effectively, as soon as it rears its head.”

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