Teaching Internet Safety in Primary Schools will help Combat Cyber Bullying

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, has today (Wednesday) welcomed a number of key recommendations in the Report of the Internet Content Governance Advisory (ICGA) which sets out what steps the Government can take to help address cyber bullying and deal with the range of issues posed by social media and our ever growing presence online.

“The issue of internet safety and how to deal with online abuse is a complex and ever evolving area, and one which deserves a considered response. The report, which was requested by the Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte TD, contains a number of practical recommendations which could have a positive impact on how we interact with each other online.

“My primary focus on this issue has always been on education. While laws making online abuse an offence might make the headlines, I think that changing the way we talk to our children about how they act online will have a much more lasting impact. The report recommends that internet safety and digital literacy skills should be included in the curriculum at both primary and secondary level – I measure I would strongly support.

It also says that further support should be given to training directed at parents to make them aware of cyberbullying and give them tips on how to deal with it. A number of tragic high profile cases last year, when the suicides of young teens were linked to cyber bullying, shocked the nation. We need to give both children and their parents the skills to face up to online abuse and the tools to know how to address it.

“I also welcome the proposal that the Safer Internet Ireland Centre (SIIC) should develop an online platform and a helpline which would act as a resource for children, parents, teachers and anyone else with an interest in the area. This one-stop portal would contain a range of support and advice on all elements of internet safety.

“An implementation group involving five government departments has now been set up to ensure these recommendations are acted on, and a set of agreed actions are expected soon. Legislation to make online abuse an offence can only be part of the solution. Education must be to the forefront.”

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