independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Video: Plan is welcome but the issue won't just go away

THERE is no one solution to bullying.

The Action Plan being launched by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn this week represents one long-overdue measure, but on its own it won't make bullying disappear.

All the evidence suggests that tackling bullying, indeed preventing it happening in the first place, requires the engagement of all of society.

However, schools are key, because while the bullying may happen outside school hours, school is where almost one million Irish four- to 19-year-olds spend much of their waking hours and, inevitably, it spills into that space.

Bullying is not new but when the previous guidelines were issued to schools in 1993, there may not have been a recognition of the extent of homophobic bullying. Racism has also reared its head.

Bullying has taken on a particularly invasive form in the shape of cyber-bullying. The bully can remain anonymous while following his or her target anywhere and at any time – a nasty text message at night, a Facebook posting for all to see.

Schools have the expertise to deal with issues such as this, but the evidence shows that the best approach to tackling the problem is one where parents are involved.

Parents need to educate themselves and, in so doing, educate and empower their children to deal with bullies.

Social media has taken the world, and schools, by storm and with it has come the unwelcome onslaught of cyberbullying.

It has been a rapid learning curve, and so it will continue. Schools will need ongoing support from the policy makers, and an Action Plan that is not static but that continually responds to changing needs.

Irish Independent

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