A report compiled last by academics from the National University of Maynooth has indicated the extent of the issue of bullying in Irish schools.
The report follows the tragic suicides of 15 year old Ciara Pugsley from Dromahair as well as Erin Gallagher (13) from Donegal and more recently Lara Burns Gibbs (12) from Kildare.
The study surveyed 122 students from two mixed gender schools and revealed that 21% of those surveyed said they had been the victim of traditional bullying in the previous six months while 17% said they had been the victim of cyber-bullying.
Of those surveyed, 9% admitted they had engaged in cyber-bullying.
The report revealed, “Victims were most frequently bullied by a single female or a small number of females, from a different class but the same year (as the victim) and were bullied least often by several large groups of bullies of both sexes from a lower year.”
It was also stated in the report, published in the Irish Journal of Education that, “Four people said the bullying had gone on for longer than six months, with the majority of cyber-bullying incidents lasting just a week or two.
“Victims were slightly more likely to confide in friends than with their parents but in six cases they had told no one.”
In the wake of recent tragedies the Joint Mangerial Body (JMB) has advised 400 schools that students should be banned from taking photographs of other students or staff members in an effort to combat cyber-bullying.
The advice from secondary school managers states the only exception should be when pictures are specifically required for school projects.
The updated JMB guidelines focuses on sites such as Facebook and Twitter with the challenge for schools being to ensure the use of such sites does not facilitate cyber-bullying or breaches of privacy.
A spokepserson for the JMB was qouted in the Irish Independent saying, “Connecting with students on social media can seem like an effective means of communication.
“However, this gives students potential to access personal information about teachers and the opportunity to target them with abusive behaviour.”