Teachers lack training to combat cyberbullies

Two thirds of teachers say their training is insufficient to enable them to resolve cyberbullying situations.

Teachers — even those who have qualified in the past two years — are not being given sufficient training to deal with the challenges posed by cyberbullying, according to a study of Irish secondary school teachers.

“Teachers do not believe that training to date has actually told them how to deal, on the ground, with specific incidents,” said Trinity College Dublin researcher Caroline Wheeler.

“They want clear guidelines and to date have not received them through training.”

Ms Wheelers’s research is to be presented at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s AGM today.

The research was generated from surveys of teachers and one-on-one interviews.

It found that just over a third of teachers felt they were able or very able to resolve cyberbullying incidents to the extent that all involved felt content, whereas the remainder thought they were unable or somewhat unable to cope with such incidents.

“There is clearly a big need out there for teachers to be properly trained with clear training in this area,” said Ms Wheeler.

“However, another finding is that teachers feel that they alone cannot solve this problem and can’t be expected to solve this problem. They have very clearly said that the wider community and parents need to play a role in combating this problem too.”

She said cyberbullying prevention policies need to be put in place in schools.

Earlier this week a survey by Irish anti-bullying service Bully 4U showed that despite a minimum age requirement of 13 years, 85% of nine to 12-year-olds are using social networking site Facebook, and 35% are on Twitter.

“There is a frustration among primary school teachers and principals who are having to deal, on an almost daily basis, with cyber- bullying issues on Facebook when their students clearly should not be on Facebook,” said Jim Harding, director of Bully 4U.

The survey also found Irish schoolchildren were highly critical of Facebook’s perceived apathy and inactivity towards material which was complained about or reported to the site.

Fuzion PR’s social media consultant Greg Canty, who helped produce an award -winning

Safebook poster on responsible social media usage, fears Facebook is now more concerned with the rise in popularity of Twitter than user protection policy.

He cites a decision to permit the broadcast of a video of a woman being beheaded, and recent changes to teenage privacy settings so they are now fully public unless changes are made by the user.

“Have they lost all objectivity and social decency by employing too many young guns who just do not have the life experience and moral compass required to deal with policy and such huge issues?” he asked.


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