Friday 6 December 2019

New school project sees bullying fall - but online attacks rise

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A programme to beat the bullies in primary schools is showing positive results - but more pupils are reporting being intimidated and attacked online.

A year after its introduction to pupils aged seven to 12 in some Irish schools, the Finnish-based initiative has had a major impact on aspects of their behaviour, a report has revealed.

Bullying has decreased overall, and students felt their teachers' attitudes towards bullying had improved and that they were doing more to decrease it in their school.

Some 69pc of children who had been bullied said it had completely stopped or lessened, while 72pc of students who had bullied others said they had completely stopped or were bullying less.

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However, the incidence of cyberbullying increased over the same period, according to a survey of almost 3,000 first to sixth-class pupils in the first eight schools in which the programme was introduced. Another 10 schools were added this year.

Developed

The first results from the programme found 6pc of the pupils were victims of online bullying at least two or three times a month, but that figure has risen to 8pc in 2019.

The findings are based on a survey of 3,000 pupils in eight primary schools in Co Louth and Co Meath, participating in the KiVa anti-bullying programme, which was developed in the University of Turku, Finland. KiVa, which takes a structured approach to preventing bullying, through lessons and online games, and to tackling bullying effectively where it does occur, has been found to be successful in a number of countries.

In Ireland, it operates through the Genesis Programme, Co Louth, a consortium of partner organisations including early learning and care centres, schools, community groups and statutory organisations.

The full evaluation of the first year of the programme has been presented by Dr Martin Stynes of the Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection at Dublin City University.

Programme manager Hugh Doogan said they were pleased with the first year outcomes, but added: "It is not the time to be complacent. There is more work still to do."

Irish Independent

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