Cyberbullying incidents 'soar' during pandemic, Oireachtas committee hears

Published date01 June 2021
Bullying in schools has become more difficult to monitor and intervene on due to the "ever increasing catalogue of ways bullying can occur".

Damian White, President of the Irish Primary Principals Network told the Joint Committee on Education that bullying has a "severe impact" on victims, as well as their friends and family who witness the bullying.

"If unchecked, it can have a devastating effect on those involved and on school morale in general. It can lead to social isolation, stress, depression and suicide," he said.

More support is needed for school leaders, with updated resources on the various types of bullying which can occur in a school setting while emotional counselling should be available," he said.

Schools also need to have a standalone anti-racism policy in order to make racism "something that is completely unacceptable in schools", and more needs to be done to make teaching as a profession more racially diverse, Mr White told the Committee.

Rachel O'Connor, Principal at Ramsgrange Community School in Wexford said the focus of schools should be on prevention rather than intervention, as the move to the online space over the past 15 months has made it "far more difficult to monitor bullying".

Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh noted there is "something qualitatively different about cyberbullying in how it can travel inside and outside school gates, over weekends and countrywide in a very short space of time."

He said there is a huge deficit of mental health services for school children in areas such as the South-East.

A positive school culture where...

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