One Direction star Niall Horan has joined with Keith Duffy of Boyzone, and Olympic boxer John Joe Nevin, to call on Athlone primary schools to join Irish Autism Action’s new anti-bullying campaign which was launched this week.
Backed by Irish company Swapkit, the Boyzone popstar has teamed up with the autism charity for a nationwide campaign aimed at bringing anti-bully action packs to 1,000 schools across the country in the next school term.
“We hope that primary schools across Westmeath and nationwide will join our campaign,” said Keith Duffy.
In order to participate local primary schools can register online this month at: www.autismirelandantibullying.ie, collect old phones for recycling over the summer, and then trade these for an educational pack that teaches kids how to recognise, deal with and stop bullying.
Father-of-two Keith Duffy warned that children who are being bullied often feel helpless.
“Victims of bullying can feel trapped, that they can’t do anything about it. They’re terrified that if they tell anyone the bullying will get worse. But these action packs teach children how and where to get the help they need to stop the bullies for good,” he said.
Using specially created software, the action packs teach children how to identify common bullying scenarios and what to do if they ever fall victim to bullies. Westmeath schools can sign up now before term ends or join online when they reopen in September to register for the 2013/14 campaign.
And although it’s run by Irish Autism Action, Keith said the campaign is for all children.
He added: “The horrible fact is that anyone can be bullied. A recent ISPCC report found 23% of nine to 16 year-olds reported being bullied, either online or face to face. That’s nearly a quarter of all the children in Ireland, it’s a horrific figure. Bullies often get away with what they do because their victims just don’t know how to make it stop. Hopefully these action packs will give children the tools they need to speak out and stop bullies for good.”
Each pack contains a special computer animation to teach children about bullying. Accessible cartoon characters talk about bullying in a non-threatening manner, and teach children there’s no shame in admitting you have been a victim of bullying.
Kevin Whelan of Irish Autism Action said the charity’s previous education campaign to swap old phones for iPads which helped over 1,900 families was so successful they decided to launch a new campaign this time aimed at tackling bullying from an early age.
“Kids that are a little bit different, such as those with autism, tend to suffer more from bullying. But it can affect all children. All schools have to do is register online at www.autismirelandantibullying.ie to receive a recycling pack. As soon as the school collects its required amount of old mobile phones it will receive its CHASE anti-bully reward pack in the post,” he concluded