The Department of Education has published new anti-bullying procedures for schools.

The procedures urge schools to include a strong emphasis on the prevention of bullying behaviour.

Schools must also make clear that the definition of bullying includes cyber-bullying as well as homophobic and racist bullying.

The new guidelines include new oversight procedures.

School principals will be obliged to report regularly to school Boards of Management.

Boards will also have to carry out annual reviews of schools' anti-bullying policies and their implementation.

Schools are required to begin developing anti-bullying policies in compliance with the new guidelines immediately.

They must have the new policies in place by the end of the next school year at the latest.

The procedures apply to all primary and post-primary schools.

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals has welcomed the procedures .

Clive Byrne, Director, NAPD, said: "Today is a good day for schools, who will now follow a standardised approach to dealing with bullying inside and outside the school, online and offline.

"These procedures are equipping school leaders to manage instances of bullying by following clear rules that will apply to every school in Ireland.

"Crucially, parents will be fully informed as to how schools will deal with a case of bullying through their anti-bullying policy, published on the school website and made available through the parents’ association."