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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

County unveils new anti-bullying strategy

Denbighshire County Council's proactive approach to tackling bullying amongst children and young people has been highlighted in a brand new strategy hot off the press.

The council's Anti-Bullying Strategy aims to help schools reduce the frequency of bullying, increase the likelihood that incidents are disclosed to responsible adults and intervene effectively when bullying happens.

The council says it will help reduce bullying by:

·        providing a model anti-bullying policy and guidance for schools, including establishing effective procedures for recording and dealing with bullying incidents;

·        providing targeted training where appropriate, for example with regards to Internet safety and cyber bullying;

·        collecting information about incidents of bullying in schools to inform future policy development;

·        supporting schools in tackling bullying issues, for example directly through existing support such as behaviour support teachers and education inclusion officers or referrals to other external agencies;

·        establishing a mechanism for raising awareness of bullying issues, including sharing effective practice and useful resources.

An example of a proactive approach to tackling bullying has been the establishment of the Prestatyn Community Anti-bullying Group. The Council's Educational Psychology Service is part of the cohort of people that formed this group approximately two years ago. We have wide involvement from the local community.

Safe Havens have been created  in shops in the town centre and the Council provides training for people in the shops to safely engage with young people who feel unsafe in the town when they are out and about.

This venture is becoming quite successful and the intention is to have the community programme run out in other towns in Denbighshire.  This method of community action means that the focus is on protecting the young people throughout the school week, after school and weekends.

Michael Duke, Denbighshire's Principal Educational Psychologist, said: "There are many important categories of bullying, including bullying around racism, sexual orientation, gender-based, bullying of people with long term health conditions and cyber bullying.

"In Denbighshire, the Council has been active in training students, staff, parents/carers and other professionals for some years in the dangers of the Internet and safe use of social networking sites.  This is an increasing problem nationwide and is difficult to trace, requiring schools to be particularly vigilant and innovative in finding solutions.  

Dr Melaine Ackers, an Educational Psychologist with Denbighshire County Council said: "We are spending a lot of time working with schools to address any concerns or issues they may have, but also to raise awareness of issues around bullying and trying to prevent it from happening in the first instance. The situation in Denbighshire is no different to any other part of the country, but with new communications channels available, we need to be more alert to how bullying can happen and be more creative in our approach to tackling the issues."

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