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Government must do more to tackle cyber-bullying– Deputy Jonathan O’Brien

8 March, 2013 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has said more must be done to tackle cyberbullying in schools and said the number of young people affected by this issue is “very worrying”.
The Cork North Central TD made his comments after raising the recent EU Kids Online Survey with Education Minister Ruairí Quinn.He asked what was being done to address the estimated 14% of children aged 9 – 16-years-old in Ireland who suffer the effects of bullying for around two months after the incident occurs, compared to the 2% European average.
He continued: “The findings of the EU Kids Online Survey are very worrying and the impact of cyber bullying in Ireland seems to have far greater long-term consequences when compared to other EU countries.
He said that behind the statistics there is hardship and this kind of deviant behaviour can even be a factor leading to suicide.
“A survey carried out before Christmas also showed that 17% of teens have experienced cyber bullying- that half of all children bullied online said they were very upset or fairly upset (52% and for 44% this has a lasting effect).
“Recent attempts to raise Irish internet safety, particularly with the launch of the Watch Your Space campaign, which is devoted to providing a portal for young people so they can show their support for victims of cyber bullying is of course welcome. Similarly, the introduction of a new module in schools called “Connect with Respect” which will be carried out by Gardaí and is aimed at helping students understand the impact of cyber-bullying may also prove useful.
However, more still needs to be done.
“In January Sinn Féin introduced a Bill that would have updated the existing school bullying guidelines to include cyber bullying and also made those guidelines mandatory. Regrettably, our bill was rejected but what the debate showed that the popularity of the internet, and in particular social media websites such as Facebook, can be misused by bullies.
“Education Minister Ruairí Quinn must do all within in his power to address this issue.”

Note to editor:
Deputy O’Brien asked the following PQ:
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills to respond to the latest findings from the 25 country EU Kids Online survey that claims Irish children suffer the effects of cyber-bullying for longer than those in other EU countries and should the Watch our Space action plan to combat cyber bullying and other measures designed to combat this issue not be enshrined in legislation.

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