Glengormley pupils take part in the Respect Programme

Crime, anti-social behaviour and community safety have been under the microscope at two local schools in Newtownabbey.

Approximately 400 11-16 year-olds at Glengormley High School and Edmund Rice College took part in the Respect Programme this year, funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).

Developed by the Children’s Safety Education Foundation (CSEF), the Respect Programme teaches teenagers about the consequences of anti-social behaviour and crime including hate crime on communities, as well as the health, safety and wellbeing of young people.

The Housing Executive supports the project in different areas of Northern Ireland each year. In the last six years, 12 schools have taken part - that’s thousands of students across Northern Ireland.

Glengormley High pupils with teacher, Gary Coey.

Michael Fitzgerald, from CSEF, works alongside schools to roll out the programme.

He said: “As part of the Respect Programme we encourage young people to challenge stereotypes, consider opposing viewpoints and examine citizenship issues.

“We are delighted to receive this support from the Housing Executive, which will enable us to continue our vital work in the community.”

A total of £2,500 was provided from the Housing Executive’s Community Safety fund for new text books, E-books, worksheets and student surveys which were all revised and adapted as a result of the pandemic to allow teaching to continue.

Michael Fitzgerald (Children’s Safety Education Foundation), a student from Edmund Rice College who took part in the Respect Programme, Pastoral Care teacher Geraldine Davey and Jackie O’Kane (Housing Executive Community Safety Team).

Jackie O’Kane, from the Housing Executive’s Community Safety Team, said: “We want to empower young people to make positive choices and play an active role in their community.

“This is the sixth year we’ve funded this community safety project. It uses real life situations to demonstrate how everyone in our society deserves, and should be, respected.

“This year Glengormley High School and Edmund Rice College have used the Respect Programme to help their pupils discuss and learn about issues associated with anti-social behaviour and community safety in a constructive and engaging way.”

Gary Coey, teacher from Glengormley High, said: “The Respect Programme is rich with information needed to help live healthy, safe and positive lives. This sits well with our learning for life and work curriculum which ensures all our young people are able to make informed decisions and become positive contributors to their communities.”

Geraldine Davey, Head of Pastoral Care from Edmund Rice College, added: “As part of the Year 12 personal development programme our pupils have been utilising the RESPECT magazine. Using the resources provided, a range of topics were explored, and opportunities provided to discuss the impact of these at home, in school and in the wider community.

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“The pupils responded really well to the material by opening up from a personal or social media perspective, and it was fantastic that they had the opportunity to do this. The pupils were very engaged with the content and design of the magazine and the facts provided kept the pupils informed with up-to-date information.

“The RESPECT magazine encouraged our young people to reflect on their lives and gave them the tools to make informed decisions, which will help to support their mental health and well-being, now and in the future.”