New Forum Established To Tackle Cyberbullying

Figures released today by Minister for Children, Francis Fitzgerald, show that up to 25% of school pupils have had experience of cyberbullying – either as a victim or as a bully.

Minister Fitzgerald revealed the figures at a new anti-bullying forum yesterday, adding that one in four girls and one in six boys had been involved in bullying online.

The new forum has been established to explore ways to tackle bullying in schools. Current Department of Education guidelines on bullying have been in place since 1994 – before the era of the internet.

A working group established by the forum will examine how these guidelines should be revised and updated.

Mr Quinn said: “Bullying is a problem which I take very seriously. Bullying in school can ruin a young person’s enjoyment of some of the most important years of their life. In extreme situations it can also, tragically, lead to a young person taking their own life . . .

“I am very anxious that the forum focuses on identifying the practical steps and recommendations that could be taken in the short term to improve how schools approach and tackle bullying.”

At present, students are alerted to the dangers of cyberbullying as a routine part of the social, personal and health education programme for students up to the Junior Certificate. However, teachers complain that the time needed to address these issues is often not available because of the crowded curriculum. The issue receives even less attention during the two-year Leaving Certificate cycle, according to teachers.

More than 100 stakeholders, including representatives of student, parent and school management groups, teacher unions, support groups for victims, rights activists and bullying experts attended the forum opening.

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