Bullying in Ireland: The Extent of the Issue

Arguably one of the most pressing child protection and safeguarding issues in Ireland is bullying within schools and colleges. In this blog, we discuss the definition of bullying, types of bullying behaviours, the school's anti-bullying policy and the recording and management of bullying allegations.

Bullying Definition  

The Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools define bullying as “unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time”. 

Examples of bullying behaviour include:  

  • Deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying 
  • Cyber-bullying 
  • Identity-based bullyings such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs 

It is important to remember people of all ages can be bullied, we tend to associate bullying with children and young people, however, adults can also be bullied at their place of work or by their own friends and families.  

Paul Ryder, Ireland AM presenter, has previously shared how homophobic bullying forced him to quit school. Ryder reveals that he left secondary school in Ireland as he couldn’t take the “mental torture” of being picked on for his sexuality by students and teachers alike. 

It is vital that all students feel supported within the school environment and that all schools and colleges take this child protection concern very seriously and have zero tolerance for any form of bullying.  

Types of Bullying 

Types of bullying can include: 

  • Physical aggression: including shoving, pushing, punching, biting, kicking, poking and tripping people 
  • Intimidation: including aggressive body language, shouting, invading someone’s personal space 
  • Isolation/exclusion: a more subtle form of bullying that can be hard to spot. Can include passing notes, online or handwritten insults, groups ganging up against an individual, threats of ending a friendship, spreading rumours or giving the silent treatment 
  • Cyber-bullying: a common and evolving form of bullying carried out over communication technologies such as social media, text, and email. Read more in our Cyber-bullying blog  
  • Name-calling: Persistent name-calling which hurts, insults or humiliates should be regarded as a form of bullying. The name calling can be around physical appearance, religion, accent or academic ability  
  • Damage of property: personal property that is damaged is a form of bullying such as clothing, mobile phones, school equipment such as notebooks, pencils etc  
  • Extortion: demands or threats made for money or other goods  

Indicators of Bullying 

Here are some possible signs that a child or young person is experiencing bullying 

  • Anxiety around going to school or travelling to and from school 
  • Skipping school repeatedly or avoiding once enjoyed after-school clubs  
  • Deterioration in academic performance 
  • Loss of concentrations 
  • Loss of interest in schools or other activities  
  • Reoccurring physical illnesses such as headaches or stomach aches 
  • Unexplained changes in mood or behaviour 
  • Visible signs of stress, anxiety or distress such as withdrawn behaviour, nightmares, not eating, bedwetting etc  
  • Out-of-character comments about teachers or other students 
  • Possessions missing, lost or damaged  
  • Increased requests for money or stealing money 
  • Unexplained physical injuries such as bruises or cuts 
  • Reluctance and/or refusal to say what is troubling them  

Anti-bullying policy 

It is a requirement for all schools to have an anti-bullying policy within the framework of their code of behaviour. It is vital that all members of staff have a clear understanding of the aims of the policy and there are effective strategies for dealing with all types of bullying both on and off the school grounds. 

The main aims of an anti-bullying policy are: 

  • To create a positive school culture that is welcoming of differences 
  • To create an environment, which is open, supportive and encourages students to discuss any bullying behaviour they are witnessing or experiencing  
  • To raise awareness among the school community, including students, staff, volunteers and parents, that bullying is unacceptable behaviour  
  • To ensure comprehensive supervision and monitoring through which all aspects of school activity are kept under observation 
  • To provide a procedure for reporting, recording and managing all allegations of bullying 
  • To develop a program of support for those affected by bullying and for those involved in bullying  
  • To work with various local agencies in countering all forms of bullying  
  • To facilitate the ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the school anti-bullying policy  

This policy should be available to all staff, students and parents or carers in person or on the school's website and should be updated annually.  

Managing and Reporting Bullying  

It is vital to have a secure system in place for both reporting and recording instances of bullying as well as managing the incidents. MyConcern is The Safeguarding Company’s solution for the easy recording, managing, and reporting of any concerns including instances of bullying both in person and online.  

Having a system to manage allegations of bullying is vital not only to protect the children and young people within your care but also to have data to show inspectors, governors and board members that your policies and procedures are robust and all complaints are dealt with swiftly.  

The next steps will depend on the school's anti-bullying policy and the severity of the bullying incident. It is vital to act quickly as incidents may leave children and young people upset or distressed. It is also important to involve the young people and parents in the response and management of the situation.  

Posted Date

17th August 2022

Georgia Latief
Marketing Content Manager

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