Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, of a new Anti-Bullying Forum that will address cyber-bullying as part of its remit. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor has urged the Minister to ensure that the forum will lead to up to date anti-bullying guidelines for our schools which deal with the issue of cyber bullying.
“Our anti-bullying guidelines for schools were created in 1993 and have clearly become outdated. I sincerely hope that the Anti-Bullying Forum established by the Minister will lead to stronger and more robust anti-bullying guidelines for our schools which also address the issue of cyber bullying.
“This is an issue that is particularly close to my heart. As a former school principal, I am well aware of the often lasting harm which bullying inflicts on its victims. I would urge the Anti-Bullying Forum to look at how school management can address occurrences of bullying between pupils outside of school hours, especially on the internet.
“It is important to point out the crucial role of parents in identifying and addressing bullying, whether their child be the perpertrator or the victim. Parents have a particular duty to monitor what their children are doing on the internet. A worrying issue which is on the increase is the targeting of teachers on the internet. Online innuendo, which is often of a sexual nature, can cause considerable upset to its victims.
“I believe that education on bullying within our schools should be given greater priority and I hope the anti-bullying forum will look at this issue. The Junior Cert Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum informs pupils about the dangers of cyber-bullying. However teachers complain that SPHE is often under-prioritised in favour of other subjects.
We have made progress in recent years in recognising and addressing the issue of bullying inside and outside our schools but it’s clear that we still have a long way to go. I am very hopeful that the Anti-Bullying Forum will help point the way towards lessening the incidences of bullying in and around our schools.”