Cyberbullying not reflected fully in survey

Marisa Reidy

Published 26/02/2014 | 05:36

A SURVEY showing that 16 per cent of secondary school students have experienced cyberbullying does not reflect the full, awful reality of the situation in Kerry, mental health experts here warned this week.

A SURVEY showing that 16 per cent of secondary school students have experienced cyberbullying does not reflect the full, awful reality of the situation in Kerry, mental health experts here warned this week.

According to those working with victims of bullying, an increasing number of students in Tralee and north Kerry are self harming as a result of cyberbullying, the majority being young girls.

Aidan Murphy, who is project manager and clinical coordinator of Jigsaw Kerry, says that because many victims fail to report cyberbullying, the figures released by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) may be hugely underestimated.

"If anything, I'm surprised by the figures as they are probably a bit low, given our experience," he said. "Sometimes, cyberbullying can be very difficult to detect as it often happens at home at night, in the bedroom, and is not as visual as something that may happen on the school yard."

Mr Murphy said that cyberbullying is far more prevalent now than 'traditional bullying' and exists primarily among teenage girls who are being bullied on social media, via text or by the latest mobile phone App, Snap Chat, which allows people to send a message that is automatically deleted after 10 seconds.

"Schools appear to have tackled traditional, school yard bullying extremely well but unfortunately there appears to be a rise in cyberbullying," he said. "We find that young people get abuse over their weight, their appearance or even their family dynamic, for example if their parents are separated or if they have step brothers or sisters," he said.

Mr Murphy says that there is a direct link between cyberbullying and self harm and that unfortunately, in his experience, the incidences of self harm as a result of bullying have become more and more common.

"Because of the secretive nature of cyberbullying, there is a high level of self harm directly linked. That's the worrying reality," Mr Murphy said, calling for more interaction between schools, parents and students to combat the issue.

The NAPD survey released this week revealed that the number of secondary school students experiencing cyberbullying has risen by a third in the past 12 months, with 16 per cent of students admitting being a victim. It also found that almost one in 10 students admitted bullying another, and that only 26 per cent of parents monitor their children's activities online on a daily basis, while 15 per cent never monitor their children's online activity.

Kerryman

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