Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Shutterstock/Farknot Architect
Oireachtas Committee

Teaching union to tell TDs that staff are subjected to 'inappropriate' comments by parents on social media

The claims will be heard at the Oireachtas Education Committee this afternoon.

A TEACHERS’ UNION will tell TDs today that staff in schools are often subjected to “inappropriate behaviour” by parents who comment about them on social media.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) will also say that it is concerned that school staff who identify as LGBT+ do not always feel accepted in their workplace.

The union call for more training and support in LGBT+ inclusion and visibility in schools when it appears before the Oireachtas Education Committee later today.

The committee is set to meet this afternoon to discuss school bullying and its impact on the mental health of both staff and pupils.

“We are concerned that teachers who identify as LGBT+ may not always feel accepted or represented in their workplaces. That has to change,” the INTO’s Assistant General Secretary David O’Sullivan will tell the committee in his opening statement.

“We recommend that teachers are provided with comprehensive professional development, training and support in LGBT+ inclusion and visibility within the school environment.”

The committee will further hear that teachers are also subjected to other forms of “inappropriate behaviour”, including through “negative comments” and “untoward behaviour” from parents on social media.

“All teachers, irrespective of their sexual orientation, race, or disability must be treated with dignity and respect in their workplaces,” O’Sullivan will say. 

The INTO, which represents primary school teachers across the country, will also tell the committee that many of its members have not received any training in how to educate pupils about and prevent homophobic and transphobic bullying.

The union will recommend that anti-bullying procedures for schools and professional development should be updated and that there should be more supports to address identity-based and cyber bullying.

“Teachers have a strong sense of responsibility towards their pupils,” O’Sullivan will say.

“However, they are not psychologists or psychiatrists. Psychological, socio-emotional and mental health supports are practically non-existent for our primary pupils.”

The INTO will call for schools to have counsellors and therapists available to pupils who require support when they experience bullying or interventions when they engage in bullying behaviours.

“Such supports would go a long way in having a positive impact on mental health,” O’Sullivan will say.

Meanwhile, the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) will also appear before the committee today, when it will tell TDs that tackling the post-primary Relationships and Sexuality curriculum is one of a number of ways to improve inclusivity in schools.

“A lack of education can lead to animosity so we need to teach our students as soon as they enter education about real world issues and use practical up to date language,” the union’s opening statement reads.

“Language is vitally important when it comes to tackling bullying. The use of passive slurs and derogatory language in schools normalises the victimisation of certain groups.

“The passing of a simple snide remark can often snowball into full on bullying. We need an education that is constantly adapting and evolving to the vernacular and vocabulary of each generation, something which is constantly changing.”

The union will also call for a different approach to be taken to pupils who bully others by reforming them, not reprimanding them.

ISSU will say that this will help students who have bullied to learn and grow personally and help them to become more accepting of others.

“We need to help both victims and perpetrators in this scenario. We all have a duty to make every effort possible to help re-educate students who have bullied so that they do not repeat this behaviour.”

The committee will also be called on to improve mental health funding and how it is spent, and ISSU will say that “typical posters or awareness campaigns” are often inadequate at tackling problems faced by pupils.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel