DCU to lead global bullying research

Teachers and parents will get to play a part in global research led by Dublin City University (DCU) to help combat school bullying.

DCU is to lead a worldwide overview of research into the prevention of bullying and interventions to deal with it, focusing particularly on issues in schools.

The four-year programme has been given the backing of Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation.

It will lend its branding to the establishment at DCU of a four-year post known as a chair, possibly to be a professorship, to lead the international research collaboration.

While the chair and any support posts are to be funded by DCU itself, university president Brian MacCraith said the Unesco designation is a rare backing that lends significant prestige to the project.

It will see DCU’s anti-bullying experts interact with leading researchers on this subject around the world.

As well as comparing approaches to monitoring, measuring, and working to combat bullying, new research will also be conducted by DCU’s well-established National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre.

During the four years of the Unesco chair at DCU, its researchers will develop and run anti-bullying online safety programmes for parents and teachers.

“Principals tell us all the time that teachers recognise this is a problem, but they need training, and parents are constantly asking what they can do,” said Prof MacCraith.

“This will have practical outcomes for students in schools and homes, we will be drawing on expertise to create these programmes and inviting parents and teachers into DCU where they will be delivered.”

While all aspects of bullying are to be investigated in the international research, there will be a particular focus on schools and cyberbullying.

“Our research here tells us that two-thirds of online and cyberbullying is related to what’s happening offline,” said Prof MacCraith.

“A lot of work has been done but it’s growing in scale and it’s a moving target.”

He said the fact the university gets to lead the collaboration means its researchers will get to understand best what works or does not work internationally, and how technology can also be used to improve the situation.

He said DCU is prioritising research in this area already at its Anti-Bullying Centre but the Unesco chair will allow it to build on this work.

“The overall aim is to establish best practice in prevention and intervention around bullying, if it’s happening in the first place, and what interventions work to reduce it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mary Immaculate College in Limerick is to offer two postgraduate courses for teachers interested in developing and improving their literacy teaching and understanding or ability to lead school policies on the topic.

The two-year master’s in education and four-year PhD in literacy education aim to meet requirements of national strategies and policies that emphasise the need for teachers to benefit from high-quality national and international research in their promotion of effective literacy instruction.

“Good literacy skills, including digital literacy, and knowledge of contemporary research on literacy assist teachers across all disciplines in schools,” said Seán de Brún, head of Mary I’s language and literacy department.


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