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Facebook lobbied on school bullying

FACEBOOK will be asked by officials to deal directly with school principals about cyberbullying complaints.

Officials from the Department of Education will meet Facebook executives on Thursday to ask the social network giant to respond directly to schools about serious incidents of cyber-bullying of pupils.

Facebook has been accused of ignoring pleas from Irish principals to discuss the risks associated with the misuse of social networks by young people.

 

Engagement

Secondary school principals sought the discussions in the light of the growing misery suffered by some at the hands of bullying classmates.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said a delegation of officials working to tackle cyber-bullying is looking forward to the meeting.

She said: "The department wants to ensure there can be appropriate levels of engagement with school principals when situations arise.

"The problem of cyber-bullying is being taken very seriously by the department."

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn told Dublin TD Alan Farrell in the Dail last week he was "very disappointed that Facebook has indicated that they will not engage directly" with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPS) and that Facebook would not agree to meet the head teachers.

NAPS said it wants a hotline to be set up to handle cyber-bullying complaints involving Facebook, which could be used by teachers and parents, too.

Facebook's reply to NAPS set out its approach to safety and cyber-bullying, as well as arrangements in place for reporting any concerns.

But NAPS director Clive Byrne said the letter from Facebook ignored the request for a meeting.

Mr Byrne welcomed Facebook's commitment to a "zero-tolerance approach to bullying".

But he added: "Given the deeply hurtful nature of some online posts, and their sometimes tragic consequences, we believe that Facebook has a duty to handle calls from schools, users and parents directly using dedicated liaison teams".

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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