Student reports of online bullying up 33%

There has been a “disturbing” rise in the number of students who report being cyberbullied.

A study by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) also found a growing gap between what parents are aware of and what is actually happening in the lives of their children.

The 33% spike in reported incidents has prompted calls for the Government to support special training for parents, especially those aged over 45, on how to identify incidents of cyberbullying and monitor their children’s online activity.

It is just one of several draft recommendations prepared for Government by the NAPD, which commissioned the cyberbullying survey as part of a campaign to raise public awareness.

The findings, to be published today as the ISPCC launches its Anti-Bullying Month campaign, include:

-16% of students admit to being a victim of cyber-bullying — a 33% increase on the 2013 figure;

-Only 12% of parents knew about this bullying;

-9% of students admit to having cyberbullied another student — an 80% rise;

-Only a quarter of surveyed parents monitor their children’s online activity daily. 15% never monitor;

-64% of parents aged under 35 monitor their children’s online activity weekly, compared to 40% of parents aged over 45.

“The findings are quite disturbing because despite ongoing media attention around the problem, there has been a 33% increase in students reporting to being victims of cyberbullying compared to last year,” said NAPD director Clive Byrne.

“Furthermore, there is an 80% increase in students admitting to being the transgressors of cyberbullying.

“For educators, parents, students, and school leaders, this reality poses a clear and present threat to the collective morale of schools across the country.”

He also pointed to the gap between the number of children who reported suffering cyberbullying, and the number of parents who knew about it.

“It’s fairly obvious that there is a divergence between what parents are aware of and what is actually happening in the lives of their children,” he said.

“Less parents are reporting that their children are victims of cyberbullying, while more teenagers are admitting to being victims. The survey clearly indicates that the less parents monitor their children’s online activity, the less they know about it and thus the less they are able to detect it.”

The NAPD’s draft recommendations to tackle cyberbullying will be submitted to the Department of Communication’s internet content advisory group.

Its recommendations include providing more training for parents, particularly in older age brackets, on how cyberbullying manifests itself on social media sites, and the introduction of a classroom module on cyberbullying as part of the Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum in junior and senior cycles.

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