Country’s school principles demand that dangers of cyberbullying be put on the curriculum [Irish Mirror, by Pat Flanagan, 31/08/2014]

The country’s school principles today demanded that the dangers of cyberbullying be put on the curriculum.

The head teachers also want to extra funding and more training to tackle the growing problem which has led to students taking their own lives.

The National Cyberbullying Conference will hear today (MON) that this sort of intimidation is blighting the lives of young people and sapping teacher morale.

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has called for more funding and training for school leaders to tackle school bullying.

NAPD director, Clive Byrne said: “NAPD research has consistently shown that parents want greater help with the problem of cyberbullying and look to schools and teachers to fill the information deficit which exists.”

The school heads want a dedicated classroom module on cyberbullying as part of the Junior and Senior cycle curriculum.

They are also calling for an increase in the Department of Education’s budget to provide training to parents on cyberbullying.

The principals want to see the development of school guidelines to deal with the problem which can be used by parents if they have concerns that their child is being cyberbullied at school.

Clive Byrne added: “While the issue of cyberbullying has to be tackled in schools, homes and in the wider community, our schools have an important role to play, not least because of the amount of time which young people spend there.

“Our schools can become pivotal to stamping out cyberbullying, provided both teachers and parents are equipped with the right tools and resources to identify and deal with cyberbullying.

“Increased training for educators and parents is key to this objective. All resources in the education sector have been stretched in recent years.

“However, the detrimental consequences of cyberbullying on the lives of our young people in particular, means that we can’t ignore the problem or fail to adequately resource it.”

Mr Byrne also urged school leaders to use their influential role in shaping the lives of young people to foster an atmosphere of tolerance in secondary schools.

In his speech to the conference today he will outline the numerous ways school leaders can help in tackling cyberbullying which he admits has impacted upon morale in schools across the country.

Last February the NAPD commissioned a national survey on cyberbullying which showed an increase in students reporting being both the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying compared to a similar survey conducted a year earlier.

The NAPD Cyberbullying Survey is carried out annually by and polls a thousand people across Ireland, including parents and children.

The survey also asked participants about what they think schools should do to respond to cyberbullying.

It found that 78% of those asked said schools must advise students on internet safety.

Another 71% wanted schools to ban smart phones while 63% wanted a ban on social media usage.