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13 November 2017

New Poll Shows Children in Northern Ireland Worry About Being Seen as ‘Different’

The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF)* is urging schools and youth groups to celebrate what makes pupils unique during Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 Nov).

A new poll of 2000 8 to 16-year-olds in the UK (including 100 children in Northern Ireland) found that over half (55% in NI) worry about being seen as ‘different’ from others, and 44 per cent (40% in UK) would hide or change aspects of themselves for fear of being bullied.

The poll, published by the NIABF’s sister organisation in England, the Anti-Bullying Alliance, both convened by the National Children’s Bureau**, shows that while the majority of children in Northern Ireland who took part in the poll (95 %) think it is important to be yourself, of the 44 per cent of children who would conceal something about themselves, 59% said they would hide or change the way they look to avoid being bullied.

Worryingly, 74 per cent of children polled in Northern Ireland have come across someone being bullied because they were different compared to 65 per cent across the UK as a whole.

The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum remains concerned that children are experiencing bullying behaviours for being different. Interestingly children in primary school are only marginally less likely to have done so than those in secondary school, suggesting that bullying behaviour can start at an early age.

Encouragingly, the majority (60%) of those polled in Northern Ireland said they would not keep quiet about bullying that was happening to someone else for fear they would be bullied themselves.

NIABF encourages the principle of empowering the bystander, i.e. that young people stand up for themselves and for other young people when experiencing bullying behaviours, and will continue to support more children and young people to feel confident about reporting bullying.

Anti-Bullying Week, which is coordinated by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF), is funded by the Department of Education and sponsored by Translink.
Schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland, along with Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) members, will be sending the message loud and clear that they are ‘All Equal, All Different, All Together’.

Rosanna Jack, Regional Coordinator of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Bullying Forum said:

“This poll shows that some children are worried about being themselves for fear of bullying. They worry about many things that might make them ‘stand out’ including their appearance, disability, culture, or religion. It is so important that we learn to celebrate the things that make us all different, and we are clear that it is never OK to bully someone.

“It is a strength of character to respect and accept difference. This year, Anti-Bullying Week coordinated by NIABF, is sending out the message we are ‘All Equal, All Different, All Together”. We are providing a platform for children and young people, parents and carers, teachers and practitioners to raise awareness of what to do if you are being bullied and what to do if you see or know about it happening to someone. We are delighted to be working on such a positive campaign being celebrated by pupils, parents, carers, schools, youth groups and organisations across Northern Ireland.”

Find out how to get involved with Anti-Bullying Week at www.endbullying.org.uk and Twitter @niabf using #antibullyingweekni #allequalalldifferentalltogether #ABW17

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