A parents’ group today urged schools to “pull up their socks” following a €10,000 award to a pupil who was bullied.
Cillin O’Donnchadha, 10, was verbally abused, kicked, punched and spat at while he attended Scoill Chearbhaill Uí Dhalaigh in Leixlip, County Kildare.
His parents, who are from Lucan, County Dublin, sued his former school for failing to do anything about the bullying while he was aged six and seven.
The National Parents Council Primary said it was not a unique case and called on schools to re-examine their anti-bullying policies.
“It’s at management and principal level there is inaction. When we see something like this coming out, I hope the one small benefit to that family is that they see schools and boards pulling up their socks and making sure there is a climate that doesn’t permit bullying,” said chief executive Fionnula Kilfeather.
The parents of Cillin O’Donnchadha claimed he had been humiliated and traumatised by what had taken place. Scoill Chearbhaill Uí Dhalaigh agreed to pay a €10,000 settlement at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin yesterday.
Ms Kilfeather said it was very traumatic for families to have to resolve bullying cases through the courts.
“It’s a really significant thing for parents to have done and it just shows the depths of despair that they had reached, that nothing was going to happen for the child,” she told RTE radio.
A nationwide study by the anti-bullying unit in Trinity College in 1997 found that 31% of primary school students and 16% of secondary school students had been bullied at some time.
The unit has said that although most people have a clear mental image of the “classic” school victim as a small, chubby, bespectacled individual, bullying can happen to any pupil.
The bullying can have a severe effect on the victims, who imagine that there is something wrong with them, and also on the perpetrators, who can learn a pattern of behaviour that they carry with them into later life.
The unit recommends that parents discuss bullying with their children and ensure that their school has effective anti-bullying policies.