Children exposed to violence more likely to be cyberbullies. [Irishexaminer, by Niall Murray, 21/05/14]

The report found that cyberbullying on its own may not be responsible for mental health problems or suicidal tendencies. It says there are likely to be a range of contributory factors in victims of cyberbullying who suffer with those issues.

Helen Gleeson, the report author, said positive peer and family relationships have been shown to help buffer the more negative impacts of involvement in cyberbullying. “In contrast, young people who experience violence, harsh discipline, or neglect are at an elevated risk of being involved as both bullies and victims,” Dr Gleeson wrote.

Her report for the Department of Education and the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention was launched alongside the National Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University. Its work, having moved last year from Trinity College Dublin, will include research on how bullying can be tackled in schools, online, and in the workplace.

Dr Gleeson found similar risk factors — poor peer relationships, emotional and behavioural difficulties, more unsupervised time online, and bullying others face-to-face — in young people most at risk of being cyberbullied as those involved in traditional bullying, either as victims or bullies.

“Most young people who are cyber-victimised are also often subject to traditional types of bullying. It is difficult to determine whether negative impacts result from cyber or traditional victimisation,” she wrote.

Cyberbullying has been directly linked to a number of cases in recent years in which teenagers have taken their own lives. Dr Gleeson’s report said experiencing it is most likely to be one of a complex range of factors that contribute to poor mental health and self-harm or suicidal ideation.

She cited 2009 research which found that almost one in four Irish children reported experiencing traditional bullying but only 4% experienced cyberbullying, although it rises to 10% for mid-adolescents.

The report said it is likely that entirely new programmes are not needed to tackle cyber-bullying because it appears to be closely tied to traditional bullying. It suggested that further research is needed on the effects of family interventions, and on the media’s role — as some research has found reporting to have a detrimental effect on attitudes and beliefs. Studies on peer support strategies are also recommended.

While many strategies are often recommended in previous research, some have been found to be more effective than others. Dr Gleeson found little evidence to show that technological strategies, such as keeping passwords private or greater use of reporting facilities on social media sites, are ultimately effective.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said most of the 12 actions recommended in his department’s bullying plan last year have now been implemented, including training sessions for parents organised through the national parents’ councils, the requirement on all 4,000 schools to have dedicated anti-bullying policies, and a number of other measures.

Dr Gleeson said developing coping strategies can help reduce the negative impacts of cyberbullying, and recommends parents talk openly with children about the issue and what to do if they encounter cyberbullying.


Bully 4u agrees completely that young people who experience violence, harsh discipline, or neglect are at an elevated risk of being involved as both bullies and victims. Parents buying violent age inappropriate video games for children please take note. The report also found little evidence to show that technological strategies, such as keeping passwords private or greater use of reporting facilities on social media sites, are ultimately effective. Despite this Bully 4u would strongly encourage students to keep their passwords private and to report all cases of cyberbullying and abuse.

Cyber-bullying a risk factor in suicide: report. [, by Katherine Donnelly, 21/05/14]

However, although cyber-bullying is a risk factor in suicide, where young people have attempted to take their own lives it is not the only reason. Attempted suicide occurs in conjunction with other risk factors, such as mental health difficulties and family problems, the report found.

The report provides an overview of existing research on the prevalence and impact of bullying linked to social media on the mental health and suicidal behaviour among school-aged children.

Author, Dr Helen Gleeson, who was commissioned by the Department of Education and the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention, also looked at the most effective means of intervening in cases of cyber-bullying and ways to prevent it.

It was published at the launch of the new national Anti-Bullying Centre in Dublin City University (DCU), by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore. The centre has transferred from Trinity College where it was established 18 years ago.

Although Dr Gleeson found some inconsistencies in existing research, such as in the levels of cyber-bullying reported, there was also common ground.


Cyber-bullying is less prevalent than traditional forms of bullying, but most young people involved in cyber-bullying also tend to have experience of traditional bullying.

In Ireland, 24pc of children reported experiencing traditional bullying, while 4pc reported experiencing cyber-bullying, rising to 9pc-10pc for mid-adolescents.

Dr Gleeson found that most research suggests that the bullying experience is likely to exacerbate existing mental health difficulties, such as anxiety or depression, which, in turn, may increase the risk of harm of suicidal ideation.

She said experiencing cyberbullying was most likely to be one of a complex range of factors that contribute to poor mental health and self harm or suicide ideation among young people.

Girls are at greater risk of negative impacts of being cyberbullied, but may be more likely to seek support than boys.


It’s widely reported in the media coverage of this report that 4% of students are cyber bullied, rising to 9-10% for mid adolescents. Research from the ABC found that a lot of young people don’t recognise that what is happening to them is cyberbullying. They see it as something that happens to others. Consequently they under report. Education needed to empower these students.

Report launched yesterday by Department of Education

Interesting report launched yesterday.

Strategies that have been found to be effective in addressing cyberbullying include;

-problem focused coping strategies,

-involving and educating parents,

-positive school climate,

-clear school policies on dealing with cyberbullying,

-training for teachers and school staff, and

-involving students in forming policies and deciding sanctions.

Report available here

Bullying’s Long-Term Effects Seen in Both the Bullied and the Bully. [National Geographic, by Sarah Zielinski, 12/05/14]

The effects of bullying in childhood can last a lifetime, both for the child who’s bullied and for his or her tormenter.

But according to a Duke University study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, while young adults show long-term ill effects of having been bullied in childhood, those who did the bullying might actually be healthier than their peers in one important measure.

The report is based on findings from the longitudinal Great Smoky Mountains Study, which started in 1993 and followed 1,420 children from western North Carolina. Researchers interviewed the participants at up to nine points in time, first when they were children and adolescents (aged 9 to 16) and again when they were young adults (aged 19 to 21). The study was led by William Copeland, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

Earlier reports, including some from the Great Smoky Mountains Study, showed that young adults who were bullied as children can have long-term mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and depression.

But this is the first indication that being the bully might actually be protective. The reason this escaped earlier notice, according to Copeland, is that previous work lumped together two kinds of bullies: those who were also sometimes bullied themselves (whom he calls bully-victims) and those who were “pure bullies.”

Bully-victims “have the worst long-term emotional problems and poor health outcomes,” Copeland and his co-authors wrote. By separating them out of the analysis in this new study, they wrote, it became clear that “pure” bullies “gain benefits from bullying others without incurring costs and may be healthier than their peers, emotionally and physically.”

Protective Effect of Bullying?

The current study measured blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—a biomarker of chronic inflammation that’s been linked to cardiovascular risk and metabolic syndrome—over several points in time during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. CRP is a sign of stress on the body, Copeland said, and “a harbinger of health problems down the road.”

CRP levels increased in all participants as the study subjects got older, the scientists found. But those who had been bullied had the highest level of increase, and former bullies had the lowest. Those who were bully-victims fell somewhere in between, at about the same level as participants who had not been involved in childhood bullying at all.

“There seems to be a protective effect for the bullies because of this enhanced social status, or their success that comes along with being a good bully,” Copeland said. The pattern was present even after controlling for body mass index, substance use, health status, and exposure to other types of trauma.

But Catherine Bradshaw, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence in Baltimore, Maryland, cautioned against overinterpreting the lower CRP levels in bullies. Rather than a health benefit, the lower CRP levels might just reflect a difference in the bullies’ underlying biology, not unlike biological differences that have been seen elsewhere in children and adults with patterns of aggressive behavior.

And even if the Duke findings are evidence that being a bully might be good for people, at least along this one dimension, it shouldn’t be read as a license to bully, she said.

There are “well-documented studies, both short- and long-term, showing that kids who are involved in bullying do have other problematic outcomes,” Bradshaw said. For instance, children who bully are more likely to be members of gangs, carry a weapon, and have truancy problems.

Copeland added that the enhanced social status of bullies that he believes might account for their lower CRP levels can and should be achieved in more morally acceptable ways. Varsity sports, anyone?

ISPs urge parents to manage their children’s access to Internet; and top tips to keep your child safe online. [, by Ravi Mandalia, 14/05/14]

ISPs in the UK including BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have urged parents to manage their children’s access to Internet rather than blocking it straight out and has provided tips to keep their children safe online.

By launching child internet safety organisation dubbed Internet Matters, the ISPs have offering advice to parents on ways to shield their young ones against cyber bullying, sexting, online grooming as well as pornographic content.

ISPs have urged parents to manage rather than blocking their child’s access to the Internet by carrying out monitoring activities including checking on websites visited through browser history; parental control software; deletion of social profiles of their children which are no longer in use; and encouraging their kids to ignore and block cyber bullies rather than getting involved in a confrontation.

Top tips to keep your child safe online

  1. Set parental controls on all the devices used by your child – be it laptop, desktop or even handhelds including smartphone and tablets.
  2. Educate and encourage your kids to use child-friendly online search engines. You can enable safe search option and tweak the settings in browsers like Google and Bing. You can even set safety mode in popular apps such as YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, etc.
  3. Educate your kids about cyberbullying. Cyber bullies feed on reactions so educate and encourage your child to not to reply to bullies thereby making an active choice of not handing over power to cyber bullies.
  4. Keep an eye on browsing habits of your child by checking history of the web browser they use.
  5. Use built-in privacy tools to ensure adequate privacy of your child on social media platforms and block anyone who is cyberbullying them.
  6. Remind your child that anyone whom they have met online might feel like a friend, but they may not be who they are claim to be.
  7. Make it a habit to check information about your child on social media platforms and sites your child uses. In case you find inappropriate and inaccurate information about your child online, ask either the person who posted the information or the site administrator to get rid of the information.
  8. Keep an eye on the apps downloaded by your child on smartphones and tablets.
  9. If you child is not actively using a social network, it is advisable to delete the profile.
  10. Educate your child about online pornography and talk to them periodically as no filter is 100 percent effective.

DCU develops filter to fight cyber-bullies. [, by Alan O’Keeffe, 12/05/14]

Computer experts at the college have developed a prototype filter aimed at blocking hateful and offensive language detected on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The filter seeks to weed out terms of abuse, harassment, bullying and racial taunts.

The filter will use a variety of methods, including the use of semantics and word association.

DCU researchers are working with large multi-national partners such as Microsoft, Symantec and Intel in a bid to bring the filter to market within the next 18 months.

The troll trap is being developed at CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content, a DCU research centre funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

The centre’s commercial development manager Steve Gotz said it wants to develop a system that could detect content in messages, tweets or emails that could be harmful.

He said it was a particularly difficult challenge as bullying can be “very subtle in form, yet drastic in consequence”.

The system being developed could alert a parent or teacher that a child has posted something offensive. It may hide or remove the harmful message or alert an employer by email about inappropriate language.

Such a system may one day help families like the parents of Wee Oscar’ Knox who became the victims of trolls.

The five-year-old, who died of cancer last week, had been the subject of sick troll activity on the internet.

Trolls posted messages that said the little Glasgow Celtic fan was “not the only boy in Northern Ireland with cancer”.

National Cyberbullying Conference Ireland


Bully 4u and the National Anti-Bullying Centre DCU, have joined together to host a national cyber bullying conference.The conference titled “Understanding and Managing Cyber Bullying” will be held on the 1st of September 2014 in the main Conference Centre at Dublin Castle.

The conference will be of particular interest to; Principals, Deputy Principals, Guidance Counsellors, Boards of Management, Parents Associations, Academics, Legal Profession, Health Care Professionals, Parents,etc.

Attendance at this conference will support individual school management’s education requirements under the government’s anti bullying guidelines.

The conference will be opened by Mr. Sean Kelly MEP -MEP of the Year for Research & Innovation 2012 & Digital Agenda 2014.

Chaired by Ms. Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD – Chair of Education & Skills Committee, Member of Health & Children Joint Oireachtas Committee.

“Children and Internet Safety-Some Recent Developments”. Dr Geoffrey Shannon – Government Appointed Special Rapporteur on Child Protection

“Cyberpsychological interventions in cyberbullying: Tackling technology facilitated online aggression” Mary Aiken – Director RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre. Her research looks at the impact of emerging technology on human behaviour, including the negative aspects such as cyberbullying.

“Youth online communication and safety: experience”. Liva Biseniece – Director of External Relations

“Don’t be taught a lesson. Liability of schools and personal liability of teachers under health and safety law. An interactive training session with a health and safety lawyer.” David Fagan – Business Legal

Other speakers (with details to follow);
– Clive Byrne, Director NAPD.
– Dr James O’Higgins Norman, Director National Anti Bullying Centre.
– Colmon Noctor (psychoanalytical psychotherapist, St Patricks Adolescent Service) and Kevin Deering (Bully4u).

A light lunch with tea and coffee will be provided during the day.

Tickets priced at €165 are available to purchase here 

Controversial Anonymous Apps Popular Among Venture Capitalists. [Daily Digest News, by Slav Kandyba, 03/05/14]

Social media posts land people in trouble, so it only makes sense that a slew of  mobile apps have cropped up to allow for anonymous social media. Secret, Whisper and Yik Yak liberate users to ask questions and post musings that they would otherwise not post.

While the apps are growing quickly and attracting venture capital funding, their downside has been exposed as well. Concerns have been raised that anonymous “users can too easily spread false rumors, malign people by name and bully their peers,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Yik Yak, which launched in December, was taken down in Chicago in March when middle and high school students went on it to cyber-bully classmates. Another high school was shut down when an anonymous bomb threat was posted. Yik Yak is now keeping closer watch on posts and has blocked usage of the app at middle and high schools.

Websites such as and 4chan already allow users to post anonymously. The mobile apps are an evolution seen seen as an alternative to Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks becoming “a forum for feel-good comments and self-promotion,” said USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism social media expert Karen North.

“People are not hard-wired to keep secrets or even to want to keep secrets,” said North.

San Francisco-based start-up Secret launched in late January and has raised more than $10 million, including $8.6 million from Google Ventures. Chrys Bader-Wechseler, one of Secret’s founders, said “Facebook has ‘become saturated and everybody you know is on it … it’s very hard to share something that’s really personal because it goes out to this mixed audience and it stays permanent on your profile.”



More than 400 pupils a year fleeing bullies in Essex schools. [BBC News, by Laurence Cawley, 03/05/14]

In 2012 443 pupils switched school compared with 441 last year, according to a freedom of information request to Essex County Council.

The charity Family Lives said “stronger partnerships” were needed to support the victims of bullying.

The National Association of Head Teachers said bullying was “one of the most sensitive” issues staff face.

The figures released by the county council do not go into any detail as to the type of bullying the affected children have complained of.

‘Fear of retribution’

But Sion Humphreys, policy advisor to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said cases of cyber-bullying – in which victims are targeted by bullies over the internet or telephone – was on the rise.

And the perpetrators of cyber bullying, he said, were “often” the parents of other children.

“Despite this awareness and readiness to address bullying,” said Mr Humphreys, “it remains one of the most sensitive and often most challenging behaviours facing adults in schools.”

Reasons for these difficulties, he said, included victims being concerned about sharing information with adults and “fear of retribution allied with the cultural reluctance to ‘grass up’ peers”.

“A second matter is defining bullying. Most children will from time to time be unkind in various ways and this is sometimes perceived as being bullying.

“Whereas such behaviour must be challenged and dealt with appropriately, bullying should be defined as an ongoing and systematic campaign to undermine and hurt others, physically and/or emotionally.

“Schools can only act on the basis of evidence even when gut feeling may dictate that the accusations are grounded. This is difficult for alleged victims and their parents to accept and is understandably a source of frustration and annoyance.”

Suzie Hayman of the charity Family Lives, which runs the BullyingUK website, said: “Any child being bullied is one child too many.

“Family Lives believes there needs to be a stronger partnership between parents, pupils and teachers to increase parental engagement and improve child outcomes.

“Although circumstances vary depending on the type of school, teachers tell us that the tension between a heavy workload and the demands from parents for more time-consuming forms of communications must be eased if engagement is going to improve.”

Parenting problems: What should you do if your child is a bully? [Express, by Rachel Caryle, 04/05/14]

parenting, problem, child, bully, trick, expert, Rachel Caryle


When a new girl joined our primary school in the final year, the other girls found her highly annoying: she’d barge into games, order us around and try to split up friendships. With hindsight, of course, she was just nervous and trying to fit in. But what did we do? A group of us picked the longest nettles we could find from the school field, then we pinned her against the wall and tormented her with our stingers. In class we hid her pens and paper-bombed her when the teacher’s back was turned.

When we were all hauled up in front of the head a week later, no one really knew whose idea it had been or why we had done something so cruel and unfair. Retribution was swift; there were apologies and tears. We never tried anything like it again.

Back then, the B-word was never mentioned but our behaviour was clearly bullying as defined by psychologists – it was intentional, harmful, repetitive and involved an imbalance of power.

Still a feature of school life today, such behaviour is now discussed more openly. But attention is focused – quite understandably – on the victims and their families. What to do if it’s your child who’s terrorising the playground is a question that rarely gets asked, yet in a recent survey of 1,000 parents, a third admitted that they suspect their child may be guilty of bullying. Some do it just once in a mad power-grabbing moment (as we did), while for others that taste of power becomes a way of life. Whatever the circumstances, parents are confronted with a problem.

“It can happen in any family,” says bullying expert Dieter Wolke, professor of psychology at the University of Warwick. “We often assume this is a problem of poor children from troubled homes, but you find bullies in every social class.”

His research has revealed two types of bully: “pure bullies” – ring leaders who are clever, socially successful and manipulative – and “bully-victims” who begin on the receiving end but then start bullying others to grab back some power.They are socially a bit defeated and are usually quite troubled children,” explains Professor Wolke.“The pure bully, on the other hand, knows how to manipulate social situations and has a good understanding of people’s emotions. That can make it hard for parents to recognise the problem, because these children are seen as ‘cool’ and have plenty of friends.”

So how can you tell if your child is a bully? Professor Wolke warns that he or she will often start on siblings. Watch out, too, if your son or daughter frequently speaks disrespectfully about other children, says Luke Roberts, national co-ordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance. He says that Year 7, the first year of secondary school, is a key time for bullying, as children try to work out where they fit into their new, larger peer group.

Intimidation doesn’t have to be physical, either. Once children get to secondary school, there tends to be a gender split: boys bully with their fists while girls use psychological tactics – socially isolating victims and spreading rumours – which makes the problem that much harder to spot.

Luke Roberts has worked with girls’ schools where teachers have strenuously denied that bullying was taking place. “The school would say, ‘We don’t have bullying here.’ No, maybe not physical, but there was a lot of emotional violence going on – who was in the group, who was invited to which party, who was being left out.”

Parents, too, are often very reluctant to listen to accusations. “It can be very unsettling because of what it implies about your parenting,” adds Roberts. “It’s no wonder that parents often say, ‘It can’t be my child.’ But allegations should never be dismissed out of hand.”

Former teacher Márianna Csóti, author of How to Stop Bullying, advises any parent in this situation to question their child closely. “If your child steadfastly denies bullying, check the story with other sources and find out who witnessed the incident,” she says. “If you still can’t get a clear picture, tell your child to leave the victim well alone, and that if there is any further complaint you will have to take the other child’s side.”

Csóti suggests informing the other parents what you have said to your child, and asking for their child to keep his or her distance too. Then advise the school, so it doesn’t become a battle between two sets of parents.

If your child admits to bullying, explain the devastating impact this can have on another child. Talk also about friendships and what it takes to be a good friend.

To solve the problem long-term, you need to understand what is causing it – and that may mean some soul-searching. Parents shouldn’t necessarily blame themselves, says Csóti, but it is worth looking into your family for any underlying causes.

“If parents are overly strict, there can be a sense of powerlessness that children find hard to accept. They need some control in their lives so they find it elsewhere,” says Karen Sullivan, author of Bullying. “Alternatively, some children of very busy parents seek attention in other ways.”

Whatever happens, you shouldn’t feel that you’ve raised a monster, especially if it’s an isolated episode. “Many bullies are just normal children who are undergoing a period of stress, perhaps from exams or family difficulties,” adds Sullivan.

If there seems to be a problem, make sure your child has the opportunity to talk and express their feelings at home. Give them a few responsibilities – such as looking after a pet – so they can shine at something and lift their self-esteem, says Sullivan. Allow them to make some decisions about their lives and encourage empathy and kindness by demonstrating it yourself. Also check that your academic expectations aren’t too high. If anger is a problem, find better ways for your child to release all that emotional energy – through sport, perhaps. If your child is a ringleader, channel their leadership skills in more productive ways, maybe through an organisation such as Sea Scouts or Air Cadets.

“It’s never nice to admit your child is a bully, but we shouldn’t feel struck down by guilt,” says Sullivan. “Talking it through with your child and having the courage to get everyone in the family to make changes can make all the difference.”