29th January 2013 - School leaders welcome Government’s Action Plan on Bullying

‘Primary schools must give children confidence to speak to parents or teachers where bullying occurs,’ says IPPN

‘We must empower children to embrace information age while teaching them about its risks,’ says NAPD

School leaders have welcomed the Government’s Action Plan on Bullying, launched today [Tuesday], saying it raises public awareness of a growing problem in classrooms and promises more practical help for schools and parents in tackling bullying.

The Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), the professional bodies for primary and second-level school leaders, described the plan as ‘an important step in confronting bullying, particularly cyberbullying’.

‘Clearer guidelines on how to tackle the problem are needed as the nature and medium of bullying changes with the advance of technology,’ said Seán Cottrell, IPPN Director. ‘We must bear in mind that schools cannot legislate for cyberbullying outside school, parental practice at home or an unregulated internet. But they can ensure that their anti-bullying policies are up to date, identify bullies and take appropriate corrective action, and develop children’s confidence and skills to report bullying to a trusted adult. The Government’s planned anti-bullying policy template and framework for recording incidents of bullying in schools should help in this regard,’ he said.

IPPN has called for greater allocation of curriculum time for Social, Personal and Health Education to build children’s confidence to speak out about bullying as early as possible. 

NAPD described the Government’s plan as a ‘timely intervention’, not least because cyberbullies have a ‘vast technological arsenal at their disposal including mobile phones, email, instant messaging, chatrooms, blogs, bulletin boards and social networking websites’.

‘Cyberbullying is not just a school issue; it is a societal issue,’ said Clive Byrne, NAPD Director. ‘But as educators, we have a responsibility to empower children to embrace the information age while at the same time teaching them about its risks and the huge damage cyber abuse can cause someone’s self-esteem,’ he said.

NAPD recently issued advice to school principals, helping them to better understand cyberbullying and urging a prompt response where cases arise.

‘We have encouraged schools to introduce an internet educational module for all students highlighting the seriousness of cyberbullying, and to devise and implement a school-wide policy that monitors cyber risk and outlines steps for dealing with it. We have issued guidelines to schools on dealing with cyberbullying as a principal, year head, guidance counsellor, victim and perpetrator, as well as urging schools to educate parents associations about the dangers of social media platforms and new technologies,’ said Mr Byrne.

NAPD will shortly announce the results of a survey on the extent of cyberbullying conducted by Amárach Research.

Both IPPN and NAPD made submissions to the Government’s anti-bullying action plan.

They have welcomed the commitment by the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, to tackling cyberbullying, but urged that schools be ‘adequately resourced and supported in delivering anti-bullying strategies locally, including the provision of adequate continuous professional development for teachers and principals’.

IPPN and NAPD said the co-ordinated plan of training for parents and school boards of management underlines our ‘shared responsibility for tackling bullying since the problem is manifest inside and outside the school gate’.

ENDS

 

 

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