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Common system response for early school leaving and bullying prevention needed across EU Member States
11 January 2017
Dublin City University
A report for the European Commission led by Dr. Paul Downes, School of Human Development at Dublin City University’s Institute of Education, outlines the need for a common system response for early school leaving and bullying prevention. It also highlights the importance of community outreach, multidisciplinary teams and family support approaches and seeks to address discriminatory bullying.
It examines evidence from European and international research, reviews national practices and the work civil society organisations and aims to inform policy-makers and practitioners at EU, national, regional and local level on the most effective strategies and practices for preventing bullying and violence in schools.
Major gaps in national approaches towards school bullying and violence prevention are highlighted, including;
● A large number of EU Member States do not have national school bullying and violence prevention strategies, even those with particularly high bullying rates.
● Existing strategies are confined to universal prevention approaches, without focusing on the differentiated needs of certain groups, and with no strategic focus on discriminatory bullying against certain groups e.g. migrants, Roma, LGBTI, those experiencing poverty etc.
● Inadequate focus on student participation in the design of anti-bullying approaches, including from minority groups.
● A number of EU member states with highest report levels of hostility to LGBTI groups have no strategy for prevention of homophobic bullying
The report stresses the need for a more comprehensive strategic approach at national level to prevent school bullying and violence, including a focus on discriminatory bullying. A number of recommendations include;
● The need for establishing supports such as school based emotional counselling services to intervene early to prevent the destructive consequences of bullying from amplifying
● The need for cross departmental policy synergies between education and health for more effective preventions
● Involvement of young people who are part of minority groups in the design of concrete curricular resources that address bullying prevention and challenge prejudice.
● Establishment of an individual family outreach strategy at school level to foster engagement with families, especially those of highest need with a view to establishing community-based multidisciplinary teams as early intervention family support services, linked with schools.
● Development of specific community outreach strategies relying on structured cooperation and communal spaces to allow different groups to meet can help overcome prejudice between groups.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, DCU Institute of Education, said:
“Bullying is a serious concern for all EU member states due to its sizeable prevalence in many countries and its negative long-term impact on physical and mental health, as well as educational outcomes such as early school leaving. There is not simply one bullying problem. It is a multifaceted problem requiring multifaceted solutions.”