St Paul’s is proactive against bullying

November 17, 2014

Anti-Bullying Week (17th to 21st November) is an important week in St. Paul’s school calendar, with numerous events and activities taking place to highlight the important societal issue.

The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum has visited the school in recent weeks to deliver training and workshops to Year 8 students as well as awareness-raising workshops to parents. This week sees the Student Leadership Team deliver all year group assemblies that will focus solely on the theme of anti-bullying.

Lead Bullying Mentor, Anita Dennison, will launch the hugely popular annual whole school Anti-Bullying Competition where students will submit an entry that illustrates the negative impact that bullying has – in the form of a poster, poem, song or dramatisation.

Inspirational Year 14 student Anita, knows only too well the impact bullying can have on a young life, having endured a relentless year long hate campaign by anonymous cyberbullies when she was just 16. She credits the support of family and friends with getting her through the extremely difficult period in her life and says her experience inspired her to become a leading campaigner in anti-bullying.

The 18 year old started her own anti-bullying website and Twitter campaign two years ago with the aim of reassuring both children and adults alike who are suffering at the hands of bullies that they are not alone. Anita encourages victims of bullying to open up to share their fears and speak to family and friends or support groups such as Childline or Lifeline.  Every day she posts a positive message on her Twitter account, which has over 3,000 followers, in an attempt to lift the spirits of anyone who may be struggling with abuse.

Anita is passionate about taking a stand against bullying and says,

“I believe that every school, and every student, should take a stand against bullying. We all have the right to an education that doesn’t involve taunting, name calling or any form of bullying. We have the right to be included and accepted for our differences, not turned away and judged for them.

“While bullying is an issue we must tackle all year round, Anti-Bullying Week gives us the opportunity to really focus on what we all can do, together, to make bullying stop.

“Here at St. Paul’s I am very proud to say that we promote inclusion and equality for all which is clearly shown in the effective stance that we take against bullying. St. Paul’s is a school which builds the confidence of our students instead of bringing them down and will do everything in their power to ensure their pupils are confident, happy and above all safe!”

The A-Level student believes Anti-Bullying Week gives young people the opportunity to actively make a difference within schools and communities.

“It gives us the confidence to help others. When people are bullied they believe what is being said about them and they use these opinions to define themselves.

“People need to understand that they are not defined by that comment on the corridor, that ‘like’ on Facebook or that embarrassing photo on Instagram that someone may have posted. They are defined by the good that they say and do, more importantly they should define themselves. “Realising what our purpose is in life is a very challenging thing for many people of any age and some go through life never knowing, but take a few moments and think of all the great things in your life and use them, you have the purpose to be you.

“Nobody else does can be you! At the end of the day all the positives in your life is what will truly matter and all the negativity will just be background noise.”

The avid campaigner hopes to tour as many primary schools as possible during her university year next year to deliver her inspirational anti-bullying message.

St Paul’s head of pastoral care, Christine Fearon, describes Anita as a “very resilient and  high-achieving young woman.”

“It is remarkable that she has taken the initiative herself to launch an anti-bullying campaign. She is a great girl who has very much inspired not just her peers but also the staff in the school. She is an excellent role model.”