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.

Latest News Articles:

Global Shares to create 80 new jobs
Ford 100 Fest on Ford family farm to mark 100 years of Ford in Ireland
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival launches delectable programme
Healing with a harp
Plan the perfect wedding day at the Fota Island Resort Wedding Forum
Clutching at straws for Coalition
Lee’s and Nils: West Cork clubs in the city
The walk of a lifetime
West Cork farmers take gold at National Farmer of the Year Awards
Shining success for Union Hall Centra store at 2017 Quality Awards

Join us on Facebook

Dunmanway Historical Association regrets to announce that the talk on Sile na Gig which was to take place on Thursday, 24th August in Atkins hall @ 8:30pm has been cancelled. ... See MoreSee Less

18th August, 2017  ·  

This year Wild Atlantic Tag sponsored by Marine Harvest will take place in Adrigole on Saturday August 5th. All are welcome, whether you are a team entry or an individual looking to join a team. The teams will be divided into two sections, Social & Seriously Social! Please contact Sean (0879568363) or Joey (0879865827) to register. It promises to be great craic with plenty of refreshments available pre and post-match! Fantastic local musician Eoghan McEllhenny will entertain the rugby masses from 4.30pm followed by Peadar O’Callaghan and renowned Natural Gas will round off the night from 9.30pm! ... See MoreSee Less

14th July, 2017  ·  

A woodland walk will take place on the 22nd June at 7pm in Glengarriff Nature Reserve. This is a great opportunity to learn about woodlands, their plants and wildlife and is an opportunity not to be missed. Glengarriff Nature Reserve was designated as a Nature reserve in 1991, and covers over 300 acres in size. It is a beautiful and unique woodlands containing many different habitats and is owned and managed by NPWS primarily for conservation and amenity purposes. The event is led by National Parks Ranger Clare Heardman and has been organised by Cork Nature Network For further information please contact events@corknaturenetwork.ie ... See MoreSee Less

19th June, 2017  ·  

Jump to: