"We welcome the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, to St Paul’s today. It is a wonderful to see all of our 1 st years, our 2 nd years, our 4 th years and our 5 th years here to meet and to greet the Minister. We also welcome Fr. Eugene Curran, the chairperson of our Board of Management to the school.
The Minister is at the top of the Education tree. He is a member of the Government. As such he legislates for education and oversees the entire Irish Education System. These are turbulent times for schools but today is about students and more importantly about students’ health and wellbeing.
As part of the National Stand-Up Awareness against LGBT- related Bullying Week 2016 we are proud as an all boys’ school to be asked to launch this campaign. Bullying exists in so many forms and can have very lasting damage. To those here today who have been victims of any sort of bullying I say two things:
1. It is not your fault
2. Your oppressor has his/her own problems.
People find it hard to accept difference in any form.
The purpose of an Anti-Bullying week is to shine a light on behaviour, to make us think about our own behaviours, our own prejudices and our own fears. Anti-Bullying week also asks us to understand that as children of God everyone is born different – UNIQUE – and our challenge is to be able to accept people for who they are and not for what we want them to be.
Bullying occurs when someone uses their power, their size or their words to intimidate others and to make them feel bad about themselves. They want to impress their peers and to have a cheap laugh. This has significant impact in a school situation because we are all striving to understand who we are and to ‘fit-in’. This is our development phase and I want to say here and now that nobody has the right to intimidate, threaten or bully another person which may cause long-term damage to their mental health.
Our school mental health committee ‘Solas’ wants to shine a light on this situation. They want us to think about the impact of our words and actions on others. They want us to care for others and not to use people to make up for our own deficiencies. They want us to stand up to bullies and to make a difference. They want all of us to be happy and secure in our own skin.
So I ask all of us to use next week to reflect on who we are and what we want to be remembered for when we leave school. If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes it can help you to understand what it is like to see the world differently. It can help you to become a more understanding person and ultimately a better person.
I now want to pass you over to Sean O’Connor, a 5 th year student, who wants to share his experiences with us. I want you to listen carefully and consider what he has to say. Sometimes we say things and do not think of the impact of our words.
I want you to think about how our actions and words can affect others………."
- Michael Behan
Principal, St. Paul's College
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