Tackling bullying in West Cork

Posted on: 9th February, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Lydia Bracken is an advocacy volunteer with the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She is originally from Ballinadee and is currently undertaking a PhD in children’s rights in University College Cork.

West Cork is home to some of the finest schools in the country. Our students go on to win prestigious awards and much of this success stems from the outstanding level of education which they have received. This education has allowed us to proudly maintain our mantel of an isle of saints and scholars. For some students, however, school does not provide a tranquil escape into education. Unfortunately, and despite the best efforts of schools, the educational setting remains a breeding ground for bullying behaviour. This is not a new phenomenon but rather one which has occurred for generations. The main difference nowadays is that the type of bullying experienced by children has expanded. Cyberbullying is becoming more and more prevalent. As such, although several years ago, a child experiencing bullying would be able to escape this and find respite at home and during school holidays, this is no longer the case. Internet access means that young people can experience bullying 24 hours a day. Sadly, many children are reluctant to report instances of bullying. As a result, there is often a discord between the amount of bullying experienced by children and the amount which is reported to teachers and other adults

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) launched its Anti-Bullying Shield Campaign in March 2012 to protect children from bullying. This campaign has many different aspects which are designed to address the complex issue of bullying and to ensure that the whole community has a role in dealing with it. One aspect of the campaign is the ISPCC’s ‘Anti-Bullying Toolkit’. This is a self-assessment tool for schools and clubs to help them to identify how effective they are in dealing with and reducing the instances of bullying within the school or club and community. The toolkit consists of 10 statements, based on Irish and international research, relating to the management of bullying. Each statement is followed by a series of questions which allow the reader to assess where they are as an institution in relation to this best practice. The toolkit questions encourage the participants to reflect on their approach to bullying and to identify the areas where they are strong and those which require more attention.

The toolkit allows schools and clubs to properly assess the strengths and weaknesses of their anti-bullying policies and in meeting each statement, the body can create a safer, more bully-proof environment. I would encourage all schools (whether primary or secondary) and clubs to adopt the toolkit for this reason. The toolkit can be downloaded from the ISPCC website (www.ispcc.ie) free of charge and it only takes two hours to carry out. Those two hours can yield fantastic results in terms of lowering the instances of bullying and creating an anti-bullying culture within the community and so I would encourage as many schools and clubs, youth groups and other organisations as possible to adopt this initiative.

In addition, the ISPCC has launched its Shield Flag Award. This Award is given to schools and clubs in recognition of their efforts to combat bullying. It stands as an outward symbol to the community that the school or club is one which has made great efforts to tackle bullying and that such behaviour will not be tolerated. It shows the community that the school/club is proactive in reducing instances of bullying. In order to become eligible for the Award, the school/club must:

1. Complete the Anti-Bullying Toolkit and undertake any additional follow up work,

2. Appoint a lead person/co-ordinator who would have overall responsibility within the school/club for all anti-bullying measures and activities,

3. Hold an anti-bullying ‘Awareness Week’ or ‘Friendship Week’ at least once a year,

4. Install the ‘Stand Up’ Bullying Report Tool on the school/club website / Facebook page, and promote this facility to the community, and

5. Have to have an up to date Anti-Bullying Policy in line with Department of Education Procedures.

The ‘Stand Up’ Bullying Reporting Tool is an online reporting tool which allows a student or concerned community member to make a report to the relevant person(s) within the school/club of a bullying incident they have witnessed or indeed a  bullying experience they have themselves experienced. These reports may be submitted anonymously or otherwise. As such, this tool offers young people another avenue to have their voices heard and it is designed to encourage young people to report instances of bullying in circumstances where they may otherwise have been reluctant to do so.

To see Shield Flags flying on all of the schools and clubs in West Cork would send a powerful message to the community and beyond. It would show the rest of the country that West Cork is standing up to bullying and that this practice will not be tolerated within the county bounds. As a West Cork native, I would be proud to see such a sight and I am sure that other community members would share this sentiment. It is open to debate as to whether we can ever eliminate bullying entirely but we can certainly take all efforts to reduce instances. It is to be hoped, therefore, that as many schools and clubs as possible will adopt the ISPCC’s Toolkit to help make West Cork an even better place to grow up.

For more information, please contact Sinead McKee: e: Sinead.McKee@ispcc.ie; Mobile 086 7226788 or Office 021 455 1914.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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