School bullying initiative a step in right direction
Bullying is one of society's modern scourges. Whether it is bullying of individuals in the school yard or cyber-bullying, which is even more pernicious and difficult to regulate, it has to be stamped out. Schools have been grappling with this issue and now Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has issued a set of guidelines, ordering 4,000 primary and secondary schools to introduce mandatory procedures to deal with the issue.
There have been too many tragic events in the past number of years for any section of society to pay lip service to the issue any longer.
From next Easter school principals are to be held accountable for bullying policies and they will be required to report regularly to their board of management on how bullying issues are dealt with in the school.
Bullying is a two-way issue – there is a bully for every pupil who is bullied.
It is now essential that school bullies are called to account and dealing with bullying encompasses bringing those involved and their parents together so that the issue is sorted within the school.
Of course, as everyone who has been in such a situation knows, these conflicts are not always black and white and for school principals trying to deal with them, it is often an unenviable and thankless task.
The issue of cyberbullying is even more difficult.
One experienced commentator has written about "the sewer of toxic hatred" that appears online in response to certain opinions. How much more difficult it must have been for young boys and girls who are subjected to such online abuse, often from anonymous and sometimes orchestrated sources.
The Education Minister has conceded that bullying can ruin a young person's enjoyment of some of the most important years of their lives.
It can also cause untold distress and misery for their families.
This is a welcome initiative and the minister is to be commended for taking it.
PUBLICANS' LATEST PLAN DOESN'T TAKE ACCOUNT OF TECH-SAVVY YOUTH
Publicans argue quite convincingly, it may be said, that drinking in a public house is drinking in a 'regulated environment' as opposed to the unregulated consumption of alcohol in the home.
Promoting the pub as a 'responsible' place to drink might seem strange to people of a certain generation, but this was taken a step further by the Vintners Federation of Ireland's decision to encourage parents and their children, who are over the legal age limit, to use the pub as an alternative family venue.
This is, of course, a matter of self-interest for publicans, who have seen their trade decimated by cheap off-license sales, the smoking ban, the crackdown on drink driving and the changing culture of young people who no longer include the pub as part of their social life.
Publicans are obviously concerned that as the older generation passes on there is nobody replacing them in the bars and lounges which once thrived as the hub of many communities.
While it will be interesting to see how this initiative works it seems unlikely that most modern teenagers would have much interest in drinking with their parents.
With iPhones and laptops at the centre of their social life, it is hardly likely that they will want to sit in the pub with their parents when they could be at home with their friends playing with their hi-tech toys, having a drink and readying themselves to go out to a club.