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Children’s Ombudsman recommends schools take action on cyber-bullying

A nationwide consultation of over 300 pupils finds schools need to better encourage students to take responsibility for their actions.

The front cover of Emily Logan's report following a nationwide consultation on bullying.
The front cover of Emily Logan's report following a nationwide consultation on bullying.
Image: Ombudsman for Children

A NATIONWIDE CONSULTATION involving over 300 primary school pupils has led the Children’s Ombudsman to recommend that schools take more affirmative action to prevent cyber-bullying.

Emily Logan’s Bullying Report consulted with pupils from diverse geographical and social backgrounds seeking to come up with a comprehensive document on the extent of the bullying problem in Ireland’s schools and how to tackle it.

The report recognises that cyber-bullying is “a big issue” and said schools had a larger role to play in encouraging pupils to deal with the problem.

Among the recommendations are:

  • schools should explain exactly what cyber-bullying is, and the forms it can take
  • schoolgoers should be encouraged to take responsibility for their words and actions online
  • pupils should be educated about the impact their words and actions can have in a real-life setting
  • pupils should be made aware of the adverse consequences of cyber-bullying, such as a permanent record of their actions
  • giving advice on how pupils should act – including taking screen grabs and speaking to trusted adults

The report comes after two Irish teenagers took their own lives in response to bullying they had been subjected to online – in both cases through the anonymous website Ask.fm, which allows users to accept and answer anonymous questions from others.

On the whole, the report recommends that schools look to establish a culture where it is seen as acceptable to speak out about bullying, and where students do not feel pressure about ‘telling’ on their bully.

“Although children and young people often chose to focus in on specific dimensions to the issue when working together in their small groups, the collated findings establish an even weighting between prevention and intervention strategies,” the report said.

The young people who responded to the consultation were of the view that all members of the school community should be able to have a role in developing their school’s bullying plan.

“Bullying is everyone’s business and, as such, everyone in school should have an opportunity to input into the school’s development of its anti-bullying policy,” it said.

Infographic: Safebook: How to stay safe online

Read: Ask.fm founder on bullying: “It is not about the site”

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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