THE Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has awarded its first Shield Anti Bullying Flag to Bantry Youthreach Centre.
The flag was presented to the centre by the ISPCC’s National Anti-Bullying co-ordinator Sinead McKee, in recognition of the Bantry group’s work in strengthening their preventative and proactive approach to bullying. Bantry Youthreach undertook months of work in the area of bullying prevention to reach the necessary criteria to attain this award.
‘There are 104 Youthreach centres across the country and while many have participated in the anti-bullying programme, Bantry Youthreach is the very first to attain the ISPCC Shield Anti Bullying Flag,’ said Sinead. ‘This Flag is a symbol to the Bantry community and to West Cork that Bantry Youthreach have made strong efforts in counteracting bullying behaviour. This award publically recognises them for taking a positive, proactive approach to bullying.’
Helen Walsh, who works in the Resource section of Bantry Youthreach, said the programme had a positive impact on the centre: ‘As we are a small community of staff and students, a whole-centre approach was vital to the success of the programme, and it helped us to raise awareness of what constitutes bullying and the negative effects of being an inactive bystander.’
She added: ‘Unfortunately, we too often meet vulnerable students who have been negatively affected by bullying in the past, and it was great to watch the students really come together to support each other and stand up for each other.
‘The positive effects of the programme on the centre are visible in the attitudes of students towards bullying, and towards each other. The programme helped to build trust between the staff and the students as we worked together to complete the criteria we needed to meet to attain the flag.’
Helen also described how proud staff and students are of receiving this award: ‘There is a great sense of pride here in Bantry Youthreach to be the first centre in the country to achieve this award, but we will not be complacent. We will continue to strive to develop a caring and inclusive atmosphere and a positive centre culture and we encourage other centres to do the same.’
Youthreach member Cheyenne Todd highlighted the enjoyment she got from taking part in the campaign. ‘It made me inspired to do my best to prevent bullying. It has made me much more aware of how bullying effects people physically and emotionally.’
The ISPCC invites any other Youthreach centres, schools, local sporting clubs with a juvenile section, youth clubs and pre-schools in West Cork to come on board. For more contact Sinead McKee at [email protected] or 086 722 6788 or see www.ispcc.ie/shield.