Seven-teacher anti-bullying team meets up weekly
THE LORETO in Wexford is to the forefront when it comes to taking proactive, anti-bullying measures.
The school recently formed a seven-teacher anti-bullying team which meets weekly to come up with proactive measures and to react to any incidents that have been brought to its attention.
'The response to bullying needs to be as robust as it can be,' said Principal Billy O'Shea.
Mr. O'Shea said that while he didn't believe the incidence of bullying had increased, it was a very different beast now than it had been in the not-too-distant past.
'When I was at an all-boys' school, the bullying was there in front of you. You could see it happening before your eyes, but now it can take place after children go home from school and in their own homes,' he said.
'Bullying and anti-bullying procedures should be high on the agenda of every schoool – unfortunately the ease with which bullying can occur has raised made it more of a possiiblity, but what I would say to be positive is the more proactive schools area in creating awareness of it, the more successful they will be,' said Mr. O'Shea.
He said the school had moved with the time to mould its anti-bullying measures as the nature of the problem has changed over the years.
'One of the reasons we have changed is that that the nature of bullying has changed...it can now happen in the privacy of young people's own bedrooms and sitting rooms and that can impact on a school,' said Mr. O'Shea.
'So, while we would not noitce an increased incidence, it can be a lot more difficult to to discern because of way it happens through the social networks. It should be named and spoken about in schools, but the fact that it can happen in secret means there's an increase in the complexity of cases.'
Meanwhile, every school in the State is about to receive new teaching resources from the Department of Education and Skills to combat bullying, including cyberbullying in schools.
The Department will provide the 'Up2Us' Anti-Bullying kit, which will include a teachers' handbook, suggested anti-bullying awareness activities and other resources for students themselves.
'The new kits will raise public awareness of a growing problem in classrooms and promises more practical help for schools. It is critical that teachers are armed with the most effective tools and strategies to instill in their students that bullying in any form is damaging and unacceptable', according to Clive Byrne, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals.
'As educators, we have a responsibility to our students to ensure that information technology and the internet enhances their knowledge and understanding but equally that we empower them to be able to deal with the risks which the internet can also pose,' he said. 'Bullying, and cyberbullying in particular, does not start and end at the school gates, which is why the involvement of parents is so vital. As much as teachers require supports, training and greater information to identify cyberbullying, so too do parents.
'Social media platforms and their functions are constantly evolving and changing so it's important that all adults – parents and teachers alike – don't get left behind as technology evolves. Bridging that divide between tech-savvy kids and the risk of parents being left in the dark about their children internet usage must constantly be addressed.'
He said all stakeholders – government and relevant Departments, schools and teachers, parent groups, community and voluntary groups – must continue to work together to ensure that parents have the knowledge to protect their children from the riskier aspects of their children's' social media usage.