Four in 10 children have been victim of bullying in past year. [ Irish Independent, by Ralph Riegal, 24/12/2014 ].

The survey comes as the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) said it now hopes all primary schools nationwide will use their anti-bullying education kit.

The ISPCC kit, ‘Shield My School’, helps schools to evaluate the effectiveness of their anti-bullying measures.

Under new Department of Education guidelines, schools need to have anti-bullying policies in place that are regularly assessed as to their effectiveness.

The kit also helps schools to understand the importance of a prompt, effective response to any bullying issues.

The kit is already in use in Dublinand is now being rolled out to schools across Cork.

The ISPCC said it hopes all Irish schools will make use of the kit, which was developed in response to the over 9,000 calls received by the charity in 2012 in relation to bullying.

An ISPCC survey has found that:

* Forty per cent of nine-year-olds had encountered some form of bullying over the previous 12 months.

* Twenty-two per cent of primary schoolchildren said they had been bullied at some time.

* Twenty-six per cent of secondary schoolchildren said they had been bullied or knew someone who had been bullied.

ISPCC volunteer Maggie Mulpeter said it was vital that all interest groups worked together to minimise bullying.

“We believe there is a need for a concerted effort nationwide to work in partnership with schools, parents and communities to reduce incidents of bullying,” she said.

Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly (FG) said the issue of cyber-bullying was now one of the European Parliament‘s policy priorities.

Mr Kelly backs tough new regulation proposals aimed at controlling abusive online content and tightening the responsibilities of website providers.

The proposals will also enhance co-operation between EU member states, given that cyber-bullying is now seen as a cross-border issue.

It is hoped the new regulations can come into force by 2014/15.

The issue of bullying and, in particular, that of cyber-bullying has been highlighted by a number of high-profile tragedies in Ireland.

The deaths of Donegal teen Erin Gallagher (13) and Leitrim teen Ciara Pugsley (15) in 2012 were both linked to sick bullying on the Latvian-based social media site.

Erin’s sister, Shannon (15), took her own life two months after her sister’s death.

Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, briefly suspended his Twitter account last year after what he described as “depressing” attacks by anonymous internet ‘trolls’.