'We must double our efforts to tackle identity bullying in schools' as more migrants arrive
Ireland needs to double its efforts in schools to tackle bullying as more migrants come into the country, according to an Irish expert on the subject.
Research, both in Ireland and internationally, reveals that physical appearance is the most common reason for being bullied - with race, nationality and skin colour the second most common reason, said Dr James O'Higgins Norman, director of the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU.
Dr O'Higgins Norman was speaking ahead of the World Anti-Bullying Forum 2019 at DCU, the largest ever gathering of experts, educators, parents and policy-makers discussing and sharing ideas on the best possible methods to tackle bullying, cyberbullying and online safety.
He said as Ireland welcomes more migrants and people of different ethnicities "we need to double our efforts to ensure that our schools continue to be models of best practice when it comes to tackling identity- based bullying".
The forum is particularly timely coming in the wake of a report by Unesco that school violence and bullying is a major global issue.
It found that bullying has a significant negative effect on children's mental health, quality of life and academic achievement.
Close to 1,000 participants will attend the three-day event in DCU, which opens today, where speakers include Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, of the international children's organisation Unicef; Antigone Davis, the global head of safety at Facebook; and Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Government special rapporteur on child protection.
The list of speakers also includes Liam O'Brien, CEO of the Vodafone Foundation; Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, EU Parliament co-ordinator for children's rights; Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children; and Junior Education Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.
The event has been organised by DCU in partnership with Friends, a non-profit organisation dedicated to tackling bullying, the International Bullying Prevention Association and Unesco.