Davis College in Mallow notified gardaí after staff found out this week about graffiti in a cubicle that listed a small number of names under wording that suggested the one with most ticks would be raped. It is not clear if one or more people were involved in the graffiti and the 20-plus ticks.
But the principal Stephen Gilbert confirmed last night that it was the third such list at the school, which had said on Thursday that no other incident of this nature had been reported by teachers or students to management.
“School management has now been made aware that there were two other lists and a thorough investigation is underway to investigate who may have been the author [or authors] of the lists,” Mr Gilbert said.
The school has said the graffiti discovered on Wednesday was was removed immediately and the female students whose names appeared have been offered whatever support they need.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said yesterday it was obviously a serious incident, but noted the school was taking it very seriously and acting on it.
“We will make sure they get the right supports that appropriate action is taken. I’ve asked NEPS — the National Educational Psychology Service — to visit the school and support the school in what it’s doing,” he told reporters.
NEPS staff do not usually work directly with students in situations like this, but typically work with teachers and management instead. They help schools to set up responses to serious incidents, including situations where the school community has been affected by a tragedy such as a death.
Mr Bruton also referred to the detailed well-being programme being rolled out to junior cycle students nationally, which includes social, personal and health education (SPHE).
On Thursday, Davis College’s principal said in light of a spotlight nationally on the topic in recent weeks, SPHE teachers at the 800-student school were to facilitate discussions on the subject with every class.
Meanwhile, in Limerick yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said while he was sure the school authorities would take any appropriate action that was necessary, the incident was very worrying. “It does further emphasise the need to modernise and improve relationships and sexual education in our schools. Minister Bruton announced we were going to do this anyway but I think this really does emphasise that even more so, (especially) in the age of social media and in the age of prevalent pornography,” he said.
“We’ve an obligation, I think, both as parents and as educators, to really educate our kids more about appropriate behaviour,” the Taoiseach said.
Also yesterday, the Oireachtas Education Committee invited submissions to a review it is carrying out into sexual health and relationship education at schools and organisations that interact with young people. Chairperson, Fianna Fáil TD Fiona O’Loughlin, described the events at the Mallow school as “very shocking”.
The review that will include what is taught to young people about contraception and consent had been included in the all-party committee’s 2018 work programme in January. But those wishing to make a submission have less than a week to do so. The committee may also invite some stakeholders to address their views to the committee in public hearings on the issue.
Ms O’Loughlin expects the report on their deliberations to feed into the wider review of relationship and sexuality education (RSE).