PARENTS are flocking to training sessions to learn how to help beat the bullies.
There has been huge demand for places on a new programme that started rolling-out nationwide this week.
Some venues have packed out and such is the level of interest that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has increased the funding so that extra training nights can be laid on.
Originally, Mr Quinn allocated €40,000 for the programme, a joint initiative of the National Parents Council post primary (NPCpp) and the National Parents Council primary (NPC).
But yesterday, only days after it kicked off, he announced further funding of €20,000 to allow for more sessions to take place.
As a result, the number of training nights countrywide scheduled between now and Christmas will increase from 70 to 115.
Bullying is an age-old problem, but it has taken a more insidious turn with the advent of cyber-bullying, where texting and social media mean that targets can never escape the taunts.
Cyber-bullying was blamed for the tragic deaths of two teenage girls in Ireland last year.
Various surveys have sought to measures the extent of bullying among young people in Ireland. An NUI Maynooth study found 17pc of 12- to 18-year-olds had been bullied.
The EU Kids Online (Ireland Report) found that 23pc of nine- to 16-year-olds had been bullied and 4pc were victims of cyberbullying.
According to the The Growing up in Ireland study, 40pc of nine-year-olds reported being a victim of bullying.
The free, two-hour sessions for parents are part of the Department of Education's new Anti-Bullying Action Plan, which also includes new procedures for schools to help address the problem.
The training is designed to support parents around issues of bullying and to inform them about new anti-bullying procedures for schools, published last month.
NPCpp chief executive Jim Moore said it was not only about providing information to parents, but also emphasising the role they must play in supporting their children and the school community.
Mr Quinn said parents had "a hugely important role to play in tackling bullying and these sessions will give them the tools they may need to do this".
He said the training programme was "a fantastic example of how we can reach out and really help students".
The parents' bodies are also developing an information leaflet for parents who attend the training sessions, which will be available on their websites.
Parents can book a spot on the anti-bullying programme by registering online at either www.npc.ie or www.npcpp.ie.