City to host second annual Anti-Bullying Conference

Child wearing blue denim short and trousers sitting in doorway with head in hands.

Bullying can have a huge and lasting impact on mental and emotional health

The second annual Portsmouth Anti-Bullying Conference will take place on Tuesday 22 January at Portsmouth Guildhall.

Approximately 300 primary school children from across the city will come together to learn about bullying, how they can spot it and how young people can be more engaged in tackling this issue.

The event will also feature eight breakout sessions, from organisations including the University of Portsmouth, Hampshire Constabulary and Portsmouth Education Partnership.

Dr Wendy Sims-Schouten, Head of the Mental Health in Childhood and Education (MICE) research hub at the University of Portsmouth, will be leading the session on mental health. She said: “With the increased focus on mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, both in the media and in Governmental pledges, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that bullying can have a huge and lasting impact on mental and emotional health. In my talk, I will address the link between bullying and mental health, and discuss ways forward.”

The conference has been organised by Rock Clothing, a Portsmouth-based non-profit social enterprise. It is also sponsored by Portsmouth City Council, Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth College, iDare2Inspire and Peter Ashley Activity Centre.

Managing Director and Founder of Rock Clothing Keiran O’Toole said: “It is without a doubt one of the most common issues within our society, yet the most deprived in terms of educating young people. After experiencing bullying at school, and losing faith in the education system, I am on a mission to bring young people to the forefront of tackling bullying and driving change in their schools. We should embrace the power of young people and give them a voice to support the wellbeing of others within their educational institutions.

“This conference will see 300 young people from across Portsmouth come together to be the catalysts of change in their school. It’s heart-breaking to hear a young person who is constantly getting hurt by bullies say ‘I’m used to it’; come on people, don’t we have a moral obligation?”

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