Dr. Paul Downes, Associate Professor of Education (Psychology), School of Human Development, gave the opening keynote presentation at the Austrian Ministry of Education Conference, Vienna, Prävention und Intervention bei (Cyber)mobbing“ Die Bedeutung einer umfassenden Schulstrategie für das physische und psychische Wohlbefinden. His presentation, How to tackle bullying and prevent school violence in Europe, was based on the report for the European Commission of the same title that he led: Downes, P. & Cefai, C. (2016). How to tackle bullying and prevent school violence in Europe: Evidence and practices for strategies for inclusive and safe schools. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union/EU bookshop.
The national conference took place on 20-21 November, 2017 and was opened by the Austrian Minister for Education, Dr. Sonja Hammerschmid. It was attended by school psychologists, social workers and teachers across Austria, as well as by Senior Education Ministry officials in Austria, including the Director-General for Schools.
Dr. Downes' presentation called for stronger structural links between health and education as part of a combined strategy for school bullying and early leaving prevention. He offered a critique of current peer support approaches, of the limitations of much of US research regarding older students and bullying, as well as highlighting the importance of parental involvement, while observing key weaknesses in current international approaches to parental involvement for school violence prevention.
Paul Downes also gave an invited presentation to the National Advisory Council for the Irish Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ Better Outcomes Brighter Futures National Strategy on 22nd November. His presentation was entitled, Better Outcomes Brighter Futures and the National Education Welfare Service: The Strategic Drift regarding Poverty and Social Inclusion, including Emotional Counselling Supports. The other invited presentation to the National Advisory Council was by Noel Kelly, Director of the National Education Welfare Services.