School Bullying and the Impact on Mental Health Report published; ISPCC urges action on recommendations

Today, the Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science published its report on School Bullying and the Impact on Mental Health.

The ISPCC made a submission to the public consultation and is delighted to see some of its representation within the final report.  

In its submission, the ISPCC highlighted that there was clear evidence that school bullying does have an impact on children’s mental health, with this impact sometimes lasting into adulthood, but that a dearth in research made it difficult to understand the prevalence and impact of the problem.

Therefore, it is encouraging to see one of the report’s recommendations outline the need for improved data gathering and analysis to inform future policy priorities and service provision.

Ireland has struggled to address the issue of bullying effectively because of this lack of data, particularly in terms of bullying incidence and presentation, and ‘what works’ in the management of bullying cases.

The recommendation to establish a National System for the compilation of disaggregate Data Collation and Measurement on incidences of Bullying and Cyberbullying in all Primary and Secondary Schools is to be welcomed.

Furthermore, it is encouraging to see the report recommend that the Department of Education treats the issue as a priority.

John Church, ISPCC CEO responded: “This report states clearly that bullying, online or otherwise, is not to be tolerated; it is not a ‘rite of passage’ and it is not ‘just a feature of childhood’.

“We know from the children we listen to and support on our Childline service that bullying can have short and long-term effects on a person’s mental health and we all have a responsibility to work towards preventing it occurring in the first instance.”

Strengthening children’s resilience is at the core of the work the ISPCC does.

It is imperative that children are afforded every opportunity to strengthen this skill to be better able to cope with life’s inevitable adversities, including being able to address school bullying in a way that limits the impact such an experience has on their mental health and that allows them to ‘bounce back’ better.

The recommendation of a reconstituted and enhanced on-site National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is to be welcomed too.

John Church continued: “In terms of cyberbullying and the impact that can have on a person’s mental health, we welcome the recommendation that an Online Safety Commissioner with the power to deal with individual complaints be established as a matter of priority.

“The ISPCC has and continues to call for the establishment of same.

“Whilst all the recommendations in today’s reports are broadly to be welcomed, they will need significant budgetary considerations.

“We ask that appropriate funds be ring-fenced to ensure these recommendations are implemented without delay if we are to begin to tackle this issue meaningfully.”

What to do if your Child is being Cyber-bullied

child
child

Bullying of any kind is an awful experience for a child to go through but cyber-bullying is especially insidious because there’s no physical escape from it.

All it takes is a mobile phone to ensure that your child can be bullied at any time, day or night, regardless of whether they’re at school or at home.

Are there certain signs that could indicate that my child is being cyber bullied?  

Yes. It’s time to talk to your child about cyber bullying if

  • your child is avoiding school, or seems upset, sad or angry (especially after using the phone or PC)
  • your child is withdrawing from usual activities
  • your child suddenly lacks interest in computers or rapidly switches screens when you enter the room

Be honest with your child

Make sure they know not to give away personal information online, especially on public websites or to people they do not know. Personal information includes their name, address, phone number, email address, photographs of themselves, or any financial information such as bank account numbers.   

However, it’s also important to show your child that he or she should not allow cyber bullies to ruin their relationship with the internet. Remain calm and show them that the matter can be dealt with in a way that does not involve retaliation. 

Be aware that social media has probably become an extension of children’s daily lives – a hurtful comment online can be devastating. 

By telling your child “don’t use that site anymore”, your child is effectively being punished for being bullied.  Some things you and your child can do together are: 

  • Block or remove the person as a follower. It is also advisable for children to block others they see abusing people online  
     
  • Report the issue to the site/app or phone company 
  • Get your child to take screenshots of the evidence which may be required by the Gardai or the school  
     
  • If the bully attends your child’s school, parents should link in with the school to advise what is happening.  The school will have an anti-bullying policy which will include cyberbullying.  
     
  • For more serious instances of bullying or abuse such as harassment, grooming or sexually inappropriate content, contact the Gardai. 

For more information, articles and videos about online safety, visit our Digital Ready Hub. 

What is Cyberbullying?

cyberbullying
cyberbullying

The last thing any parent wants to think about is their child being a victim of bullying.

However, the widespread use of social media platforms has brought a new dimension to issues such as harassment and bullying and unfortunately, it’s not always something parents can control. 

Bullying is defined as ‘unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time’.

 

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying refers to bullying which is carried out using the internet, mobile phone or other technological devices.

It generally takes a psychological rather than a physical form but is often part of a wider pattern of ‘traditional bullying’.

 

What should you teach your child about bullying?

The last thing any parent wants is to think that their child might be a victim of bullying.
However, the widespread use of social media platforms has bought a new dimension to issues such as harassment and bullying and it’s not always something parents can control.  
Bullying is defined as ‘unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time’ 


‘Cyberbullying’ refers to bullying which is carried out using the internet, mobile phone or other technological devices.
It generally takes a psychological rather than physical form but is often part of a wider pattern of ‘traditional’ bullying. 


What should you teach your child about cyberbullying?


As a parent, it’s advisable to have regular chats with children to find out what sites they are using, who they are following, their likes and dislikes.


Bear in mind, your child may also be a cyber bully, therefore it’s important that they understand the various dimensions of cyber bullying and proper netiquette.

  • Avoid hurting someone’s feelings online

  • Respect other people’s online rights

  • Avoid insulting someone

  • If someone insults you, remain calm

  • Avoid ‘crashing’ discussion groups

  • Respect other people’s privacy

  • Be responsible for your online behaviour

 

For more information, articles and videos about online safety, visit our Digital Ready Hub.