A new study conducted by the Anti-Bullying Centre at Trinity College in Dublin has found that a staggering one in four girls and one in six boys have come in contact with cyber-bullying. With bullying moving away from schoolyards and into the online social-media arena, teachers and parents are facing the growing problem of how to control the matter.
The Herald reports on the findings from Trinity College which show that access to social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter for children, has breathed new life into bullying.
The statistics reported by Trinity College show that one in four girls and one in six boys have been a part of cyber-bullying, either as the victim or the bully. The figures coincide with recent research from the Growing Up In Ireland study that showed 24 percent of nine to 17-year-olds have reported being bullied.
The new data from Trinity College has been passed on to Department of Children, which is now supporting an anti-bullying forum due to take place in May.
Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald said "Bullying can have an absolutely terrible and corrosive impact on our children and young people, on their confidence, their self-esteem, their mental health.”
"It's abusive of young people and desperately damaging. We already have high suicide rates and it's the most vulnerable that will be hurt,” she added.
Fitzgerald also said that cyber-bullying posed a particular risk because parents "might be a bit slower to find out".
For instance, just last week the Herald reported on a 10-year-old boy who was being terrorized online by bullies who had gone as far as the create a Facebook page saying “Everybody Hates [name].” The abuse became so bad that his parents opted to switch their son into a different school.
The boy’s father, Gerry Dalton said: "We weren't aware of the page because we don't allow our youngest son on Facebook."
Minister Fitzgerald told the Herald that on a recent visit to London she witnessed how Scotland Yard "have a complete room of computers looking at what's happening online” insinuating that procedure needs to be reexamined in Ireland.
"When the [bullying] coalition came in to see us they brought in a young woman whose bullying had not been interrupted by the school, where her complaints were not taken seriously and that day is gone."
Minister Fitzgerald also added that she wants cyber-bullying prioritized in the new Children & Young People’s policy being prepared by her department.