26th January 2017 - Bullying levels down but children’s emotional wellbeing is still under threat

The Annual Conference of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) will this week hear that children’s emotional wellbeing is a continuing cause of concern for primary school principals.

Over 1,100 primary school leaders will be in attendance at Citywest Convention Centre on Thursday, January 26th to hear IPPN President, Maria Doyle unveil the findings of a recent IPPN survey on children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

IPPN, the recognised organisation that represents the professional needs of 6,600 primary school leaders in the Republic of Ireland has been to the forefront in recent years in promoting positive mental health, self-care and wellbeing for both staff and pupils in our 3,300 primary schools.

While welcoming the fact that the survey of school principals reveals a drop in instances of bullying in our primary schools, Ms Doyle expresses disappointment with the fact that less than 22% of principals feel adequately trained to identify mental health issues in children.

The survey findings indicate that while instances of child neglect and bullying seem to be decreasing at primary school level over the last 3 years, emotional problems fuelled by family issues such as marital breakdown and financial problems are on the increase. More than half the principals that responded rated this as their greatest challenge.

There is also increasing evidence of a spike in anxiety levels in our nation’s children with a quarter of responding school leaders identifying it as a growing problem requiring attention.

The IPPN President welcomes the fact that almost one in four principals have seen a drop in levels of school based bullying since the revised guidelines on bullying behaviours were introduced.

She stated “the landscape is not all doom and gloom and we, in IPPN, will continue to be involved in the roll out of programmes that support wellbeing in our schools. However, the Department must be more proactive in providing training for educators and funding for targeted emotional wellbeing programmes so that the increasing levels of childhood depression and anxiety, as identified in our survey, are halted as a matter of urgency”.

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