Brussels, 11 December 2015
The 2nd International Conference of the European Anti-bullying Network was held at the heart of EU institutions, the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels, under the aegis of Greek MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos (S&D Group) and with the participation of Greek and other Members of the European Parliament, as well as representatives of international, European and national organizations active in the field of children’s rights.
The conference under the title “Placing Bullying as a Priority in the European Agenda”, which was addressed amongst others by the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, brought together academia and organizations working on the ground in tackling and preventing bullying, and presented to the Members of the European Parliament the alarming increase of the problem as well as the need for coordination on a European scale.
In addition, participants had the opportunity to exchange useful experiences and good practices implemented on the national and European levels, focusing on empowering children and preventing the phenomenon. YouSmile – European Student Volunteer Network was highlighted during the conference as one of the useful tools that promote child participation.
The members of the ΕΑΝ network expressed their strong commitment to mobilize national and European actors involved in fighting the problem and create the necessary dynamism in view of the next EAN General Assembly and Board of Directors meetings as well as the 3rd international conference that will take place on 23 and 24 June 2016 in Malta.
The main conclusion drawn during the conference was the need to increase awareness on the problem within societies and approach both national and European political actors in an effort to promote initiatives addressing the ever increasing phenomenon of bullying.
“When a child tries to commit suicide because of bullying it means that this is a serious issue within our society which is developing into a public health issue. Behind numbers of bullying incidents they are children and their families. The goal of this pan-European effort is to tackle the phenomenon in Europe in a coordinated way and, thus, to protect thousands of children from bullying” said Costas Yannopoulos, President of the European Anti-bullying Network and “The Smile of the Child” Greek Organization for Children.
Hosting MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos (S&D Group) said in his opening address: “Given the ever increasing extent of the problem, as suicide incidents from children victims of bullying demonstrate, we need to realize that bullying constitutes one of the main risks for children that need to be taken into serious consideration”.
The keynote speaker of the conference, Peter Smith, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of London, presented research surveys on bullying that among others demonstrate an increase in cyber-bullying. According to these surveys, 10.3% of children have bullied 2 to 3 times in a period of 2 months, whereas 11.3% has experienced some form of bullying under the same period.
In Greece, only 1 in 10 children that are experiencing a form of violence are receiving some kind of support from specialists, whereas according to a European survey conducted in 2012 by “The Smile of the Child” 31.98% of children have experienced bullying.
On the margins of the conference the General Assembly and Board of Directors meetings of the network were also held at the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels on 8 December 2015.
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The European Anti-bullying Network was established upon the initiative of the Greek Organization “The Smile of the Child” along with Organizations from 12 EU Member States in the framework of the EAN project and under the funding of the Daphne III Programme of the European Commission.
The EAN network is currently comprised of 20 members from 15 EU Member States (from Greece, Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).
For more information on EAN visit its website on www.antibullying.eu