Friday 13 December 2019

More than half of Irish primary schools aware of homophobic bullying in classrooms

The National Anti-Bullying Research conference will be staged at Dublin City University over the next two days.
The National Anti-Bullying Research conference will be staged at Dublin City University over the next two days.

Ralph Riegel

More than half Irish primary school principals surveyed admitted they were aware of cases of homophobic bullying or name-calling.

The revelation came as a major anti-bullying conference will examine the alarming spiral in cyber-bullying, its link to increasing rates of teenage self-harm in Ireland and the effectiveness of State intervention programmes.

The National Anti-Bullying Research conference will be staged at Dublin City University over the next two days.

It will feature submissions from worldwide experts on bullying and how the Internet with social media, in particular, has given new weapons to the bullies.

A key submission will be from Dr. Bernie Collins, Dr. Seline Keating and Prof. Mark Morgan of the ‘All Together Now’, pilot educational awareness programme on homophobic and transphobic bullying in primary schools.

New Irish research has found that experiencing homophobic bullying when young is associated with seriously elevated levels of self-harm and suicidal behaviour.

More than half (57pc) of Irish primary school principals surveyed said that they were aware of homophobic bullying or name calling.

The researchers are now examining a new pilot project, running in the

2015/16 academic year, which aims to equip primary school teachers and principals to better handle cases of bullying and, in particular, bullying which involves homophobia.

The pilot project is being conducted in 20 schools across Dublin, Wexford and Donegal.

All three school clusters are being provided with on-line supports as part of the research.

It is hoped the findings of the pilot project will evolve into a new national strategy on handling bullying at primary school level.

The conference will also hear research from Dr. Ibrahim Tanrikulu Dr Ozgur Erdur-Baker on the motives behind bullying and cyber-bullying.

Their research focused on 277 university students.

It found that bullying motives were accounted for by revenge (36.1pc), entertainment (17.1pc), dominance (8.6pc) and harm (6.1pc).

Taken together, those four motives were found to explain almost three-quarters of all bullying instances.

The research is viewed as critical in the preparation of anti-bullying strategies for primary and secondary schools as well as for colleges and universities.

A mother and father whose daughter took her own life after a vicious cyber-bullying campaign warned that more needs to be done to help families left traumatised by suicide.

Colette and Anthony Wolfe said they remain heartbroken nine years after their beloved daughter, Leanne, took her own life.

Leanne had just turned 18 when she was discovered dead in the bedroom of her family home at Carrigtwohill, Co Cork in March 2007.

Just a few hours earlier, she had gone into the bedroom of her older sister, Triona, and whispered: “I love you.”

The Wolfe family were completely unaware of the bullying Leanne was enduring until they discovered a diary she had hidden in her bedroom.

“I can honestly say that the Leanne we knew was not the Leanne in those diaries — to be quite honest I did not recognise that child,”Colette said.

The Leaving Certificate student had been bullied by six people but two had subjected her to particularly vile and hurtful abuse.

 Leanne was bullied by texts and messages on her mobile phone but had also suffered verbal and physical abuse including being repeatedly slapped on one occasion.

“She recorded this in her diaries and we checked her mobile phone and realised she had been threatened on the day she died.” Now, the Wolfe family have devoted their lives to helping other families left bereft by the suicide of a loved one.

 They founded the support group, ‘You Are Not Alone’ (YANA), and warned that such support networks are vital to helping people left scarred by bullying and its aftermath.

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