Teachers need help to deal with bullying in the classroom: O’Brien
Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has said the government must act and introduce measures to address bullying in schools. The Cork Central TD made his remarks after submitting the issue for Topical Issues’ Debate in the Oireachtas.
Deputy O’Brien said: “Recent research published by the Irish Medical Journal shows that in Ireland, suicide is the leading cause of death among young males aged 15-24, a rate that is the fourth highest in the expanded EU. Despite this, it is still not mandatory for teachers to receive training to deal with bullying at school.
“The very sad death recently, by suicide of a teenager from Leitrim has been linked to cyber bullying and has been compared to the case of 15 year old Phoebe Prince, from Co Clare, who took her life in the US in 2010 after a campaign of bullying at school.
“Complaints to the Ombudsman’s Office on educational matters have risen from 37% in 2010 to 47% in 2011 with a high proportion relating to bullying in the classroom.
“Ireland is a signatory to the Council of Europe’s Children’s Charter so at the very least, it should be mandatory for teachers to receive training to deal with bullying.
“I believe an extensive audit is needed to exam how bullying is impacting on schools throughout the Irish State. Initiatives such as the Safe School Programme, which introduces accredited measures to address bullying and is based on empirical research and best practise in other countries, should be considered.
“The National Anti-Bullying Coalition estimate that the cost of bullying in schools could be over €100m. This figure includes 16m in costs to the health-sector of the 9,600 cases of self-harm due to bullying every year; at least €40m for substitution costs to cover teachers absent because of bullying; increased demand on education and health services because of students absent from school, and the costs for parents through lost time at work or moving schools.
“So even if we ignore the moral imperative on us to ensure bullying in schools is dealt with on a statutory footing, there are significant savings to the State and I would urge the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to do all within his power to seriously look into this matter.”