In Bullying Around the World

Bullying in Ireland

Bullying in Ireland

A recent study in Ireland shows that up to 15% of students  in Ireland have been cyber bullied, while about half that number reported that they have bullied others.

Bullying is nothing new; it’s been around since ancient times, but when you think of the progress we’ve made in other areas since the Stone Age, it’s clear that it’s high time to stamp it out.

Schools in Ireland are asking Face book and other social media for help in fighting incidents of cyber bullying.

Junior high and high school principles are calling for Facebook and other social media sites to appoint staff members to take calls from schools and parents in an effort to help stop cyberbullying.

The school heads are upset because social networks are not responding to requests from educators to remove posts about students in their care.

According to Clive Byrne, director of the NAPD (The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals), “networks such as Facebook have a greater role to play in dealing with the problem.”

“Social networks ought to have a dedicated liaison officer whose job it is to take calls from schools and parents and act promptly in deleting offensive posts,” he said.

Patricia Cartes, the safety director for Facebook recently told the Irish Independent that it gives priority to complaints from juveniles, especially when the complaint involves allegations of cyber-bullying.

“What I can certainly say is that 100pc of those (complaint) reports are looked into. We are on 100pc coverage and we highly prioritize reports involving minors and cyber-bullying,” she said.

“We would also investigate if any (abusive) content is linked to bad networks, because that is usually how it works. We try to get to the root of the problem, not just the one account that has been mentioned.”

.”But the reality is that there is bullying in the world. There is bullying in schools. There is bullying online. We will never eradicate it. But what we want to do is to provide the tools to help deal with it.”

13-year-old Erin Gallagher from Donegal died last month, and 15 year-old Ciara Pugsley from Co Leitrim took her own life in September, both had been victims of cyber- bullying.

Last weekend Lara Burns Gibbs, 12, took her life at home in Kilcock, Co Kildare. Her death has also been linked to cyber-bullying.

A 13-year-old Donegal girl talked to friends on a social media website and told them of her plan to commit suicide. Although all the details have not been released, it is known that the teenager had been the target of a long-running bullying crusade on the Internet.

Just a few weeks ago, another teen, 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley, from Leitrim, died after being the victim of a cyber bullying campaign. Ciara was a student at St Clare’s Comprehensive School in Manor-Hamilton. She was bullied by some other teenagers on the social media website. The social media website was set up to allow people to ask questions.

Ciara became a missing person several weeks ago. Her body was found in a forest near her residence.  There was no note. Gardai are reportedly investigating the messages the teenager received on the Internet to determine to what extent the girl’s death is attributable to cyber bullying

Ciara’s father, Jonathon has spoken publicly to urge other teenagers who are going through tough times to value their lives. “Just don’t do it. Your family and your friends need you,” he said.


The grandfather of bullying victim Erin Gallagher is angry that professional help wasn’t available to prevent Erin from committing suicide.

“The family has been devastated since Erin’s death almost two weeks ago,” James Gallagher said.

“There are many different types of abuse, so physically you can see what happens but mentally you can’t. When somebody gets mentally abused its torture,” he said.

“They’ll go into their shell and go away into a corner. Nowadays it’s 24/7 and they (bullies) can get you on the mobile phone and laptops.”

“To me, parents don’t look at that and don’t know what their children are up to. At the end of the day it was too much for her and she couldn’t handle it.”

“These people should have been here to help Erin, not us.”

“I don’t want to buy a paper in the morning and see another child of 12 or 13 and see a broken-hearted mother.”

The family wants the Government to create programs to stop the epidemic of teen suicide.

“I want to see teachers getting more educated on bullying. I’d like to see young people being educated on abuse so that they know what abuse can lead to.”

Speaking to TV3’s ‘MidWeek’, he said “I would also urge parents and other family members to support and encourage victims in doing so.”

A Facebook tribute page honoring Erin Gallagher has already attracted over 2,000 well-wishers, with calls to hold charity runs in her name and the banning of a website linked to the 13-year-old’s death.

The Facebook page was set up by friends and family of the tragic teenager after she was found dead on Saturday.

Erin was allegedly being bullied on the internet by other youths, which may have contributed to what happened.

Fran Anderson wrote on the Facebook page, “beautiful young girl, hope her bullies are wracked with guilt today”, while Anne Martina Moore added Erin was “just a child, [it’s] so sad”.

Martina Callaghan struck the same note as many other contributors, saying: “You wee pet, our thoughts and prayers are with your family at this sad time.”

The remark was echoed by Kelvin Lynch, who said: “RIP Erin, you didn’t do anything to deserve this, sleep tight.”

While some called for the website to be banned in light of alleged links with the 13-year-old’s death, other site visitors have suggested organizing a charity 5km run.

According to a member of the board of management at Erin’s school, HEALTH service officials were warned that Erin Gallagher was a suicide risk two months before she killed herself.

Donegal mayor Frank McBrearty, who sits on the board of Finn Valley College, said an alarmed parent went to social services after learning from his daughter that Erin was being bullied and was threatening suicide. It is not clear if the HSE intervened after being told of the parent’s fear for the safety of the teen. The disclosure has instigated an independent investigation into the teen’s suicide.

Mr. McBrearty said a complete inquiry needs to be conducted. “There are serious allegations being made that this was reported to the authorities eight weeks ago. That needs to be investigated and why was there no action taken,” he said.

“As a public representative, I have a duty. I have a parent making this allegation to me. He reported it to the social services about the girl. I feel I have to speak now. It is allegation and counter allegation — you can only cross bridges when you come to them.”

The Labor councilor said he has tried to convene a school board management meeting since Erin’s death, but his efforts have been unsuccessful.

“I asked the principal (Frank Dooley) to call a school board of management meeting but he declined

.”He said he had consulted with the chairman of the board of management (Patrick McGowan). “I said I am not happy with it. I speak for myself and there should have been an emergency meeting of the board of management. “I feel the full board of management should have met and discussed what needed to be discussed and seek the advice of the HSE as to the way forward,” Mr. McBrearty said.

“We should be ensuring that no other teenager commits suicide and the Government should be looking at bringing in legislation that protects everyone and promotes positive mental health.”

Erin died almost two weeks ago. Yesterday the HSE said: “We are offering every support and service to all concerned in this unfortunate tragedy but we cannot possibly comment on an individual case.”

Friends of Erin Gallagher are requesting that the social media website be terminated. Erin was found dead a few days ago. Erin had told friends she was going to take her life because she had been the target of a bullying campaign on

The website, which was set up to answer user’s questions, made the front page a few weeks ago after Ciara Pugsley, 15-year-old Leitrim girl lost her life. The tragic death led to a Gardai investigation into messages she received from other members of the site. Although in itself is innocent, the latest tragedy has led to cries for it to be dismantled.


Geoffrey Shannon, chairman of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, told an audience of educators and lawyers, over the weekend, that the laws on cyber bullying are not appropriate.

“I do not think the law has caught up with the technology,” he said, at a seminar on education and the law at St Angela’s College in Sligo. “This issue was being dealt with under harassment legislation, but “we need legislation that is fit-for-purpose, legislation that reflects the technology that now exists, Dr. Shannon said.”

‘The new child-protection frontier is in this area of technology,” he told the conference.

“We know the physical challenges and the physical risks, but it is that online world that seems so remote and so innocuous, and yet has devastating consequences for children.”

The child-protection expert called for a “strong disciplinary response from schools to cyber bullying of children.”

“All of the state agencies need to start talking to each other.”

Victimization online takes on a different reality, because it follows the child outside of the school yard,” he warned.

Mr. Shannon also cited the lack of cooperation between the various agencies concerning the issue of bullying, saying this was “one of the issues where we continue to spectacularly fail our children.”

Being bullied as a child may be a significant factor in adults becoming addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.

Counselor Helen Murphy, who investigated the connection between childhood bullying and substance abuse, said “bullying featured hugely” among the subjects she interviewed.

As part of her research, Ms Murphy, who previously worked at Fellowship House, a treatment program for men that forms part of the Tabor Group addiction treatment service, interviewed former addicts who were now in recovery.

“The overwhelming result was that childhood experiences were the significant factor in leading them to addiction and bullying featured hugely,” she said.

The types of bullying the subjects were exposed to include being bullied in school and/or being bullied at home. Some of the men had been subjected to verbal abuse and emotional bullying and in most cases, the bullying was prolonged. Some of the men had been subjected to serious physical abuse as children.

“A lot of them started drinking or using to escape from the emotional pain that the bullying caused,” she said.

Ms Murphy said the traumatizing effect of bullying on children and the potential consequences highlight the need for schools to not only have anti-bullying policies, but to ensure that those policies were enforced.

“We would also be calling for greater awareness about the long-term effects of bullying,” Ms Murphy said. Too often efforts to deal with bullying ended when the bullying stopped, but Ms Murphy said what people didn’t always realize was that the child often needed long-term support. Their self-esteem is destroyed. The emotional impact can be devastating. Often a lot of work needs to be done alone with the child,” Ms Murphy said.

Finbarr Cassidy, treatment manager at Fellowship House, said Ms. Murphy’s research is extremely important.

“It’s the first piece of research of its kind done in Ireland. It’s very important in terms of understanding the causes of addiction. In simple terms, it shows those who were bullied as children turn to a substance to kill the pain, which in turn fuels the addiction,” he said.


Ireland’s traditional love of “slagging” may contribute to chat room banter and segue into cyber-bullying.

A new study has revealed that cyber-bullying can be hazardous because it often involves a victim’s friends and it is difficult to get away from it due to today’s easy social media access.

The study may instigate a sweeping reorganization of anti-bullying programs instituted by schools, and government agencies.

The study also children are gaining access to social media sites at a much younger age than previously thought.

Staff at one Dublin primary school was astounded to learn that many students under the age of 12 had Facebook accounts.

The study found that so-called cyber-banter on the internet can easily turn into bullying.

The study was conducted in Dublin, and it shapes one of the primary issues discussed at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s 42nd annual conference.

Several researchers have warned that Ireland needs to revamp its anti-bullying and teen support mechanisms to react appropriately to the dangers of cyberbullying.

Researchers found that:

• Cyber-bullying is an easy way to bully someone.

• Friends or former friends of the victim often bully.

• Victims are usually targeted initially because of often small, insignificant disputes.

• Victims don’t want to tell am adult because the bully was once a friend.

• Children who are cyber-bullies think it is funny, not harmful.


The conference on teacher education, north and south, said that despite the obvious benefits of new technology, cyber bullying was a concern and, unlike face to face bullying, could take place at any time.

The paper on “addressing the growth of social media and tackling cyberbullying” also noted there are “several websites which promote eating disorders”.

It cites what it describes as “troubling data” on the use of social networking sites:

* A third of teenage boys and 41% of teenage girls said they were made to feel uncomfortable by an adult on a social networking site;

* 71% of boys and 75% of girls were made uncomfortable by another teen;

* 10% of boys and 12% of girls were bullied on social networking sites;

* 16% of boys and 5% of girls admitted to bullying.

It says the main differences between traditional bullying and cyber bulling is that children who would not otherwise engage in bullying do so online.

The report says there are difficulties in legislating in respect of social media sites, because the global nature of the internet means laws must be drafted between many countries.

It says some laws already in place can deal with the issue — including Incitement to Hatred, Criminal Damage, and Defamation Acts — but “the cost involved in pursuing a case through the courts may be prohibitive and this is a matter which requires further examination”.

It recommends an education campaign for children, teachers, and parents, and says consideration should be given to a number of suggestions, such as one from Google which said it would be happy to work with the Department of Education on a “digital literacy curriculum” for schools.

However, the effect of cyber-bullying has been intensified by the emergence of social media and sites such as which offer anonymity.

Cork Institute of Technology researcher Shane Kearney also found that parents of just one-in-six Irish students checked their children’s phones for evidence of cyber-bullying, and approximately 10 per cent students had been bullied online.

Social media is having a bad effect on the mental health of children in Ireland, according to a commentary about cyberbullying by a group of senators.

The Oireachtas committee on communications will soon release a report recommending an overseeing body for that will produce guidelines for social media content.

It said the Office of Internet Safety “does not adequately deal with cyber-bullying”, that the office has “no formal regulatory role”, and “its primary function is to monitor the current self-regulatory model agreed with internet service providers.”

The committee investigated the issue after a number of suicides connected to alleged online bullying, including that of two sisters, Erin, and Shannon Gallagher who both committed suicide last winter.

At the funeral of Erin, father John Joe Duffy pleaded for the regulation of social media sites.

The investigation disclosed that is no central body that has the task of managing claims that media users are engaging inappropriate behavior.

“This has been left to the social media companies themselves,” says the report.

“One social network provider received some 100,000 requests per day but had just 90 people to deal with such requests.”


According to the ZenithOptimedia research, childhood bullying is twice as prevalent as parents believe. More than half of online bullying in children happens on Facebook while 14% say they experienced harassment via Instagram.

One in five children has said they have been bullied online – that is twice the level of bullying parents think is going on.

Zenith Optimedia surveyed 1,000 adults and almost 200 children about their experiences of harassment online.

The research found that Irish parents are underestimating the level of cyberbullying – with just one in 10 saying they think their child has been bullied.

Bullying using Snapchat was higher among girls than boys at 29% and 16% respectively. Of those that have been cyberbullied a third say they have experienced feelings of depression because of it.

Online bullying does not always stop at childhood and often continues into adult years.

One in 10 adults has said they have been bullied online, with one in four women reporting body shaming online.

Declan Kelly, Deputy MD at ZenithOptimedia, commented: “We carried out this research to look at how Irish people are interacting with the internet on a daily basis but also to examine how safe the internet is.

“What we found was that quite a large proportion of Irish children have experienced some form of online bullying. What it also showed was the inconsistency between parents’ perception of what’s happening with their children online and the reality.”


Cyber bullying among children in Ireland is a growing problem and teachers are confused as to how to deal with it, a survey has revealed.

Researchers from Stranmillis College, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin, took evidence from teachers and principals in over 100 schools.

They found that a lot of the cyber bullying that takes place social media and electronic devices happens outside of school. However, parents seem to expect teachers to resolve the problem.

More than 50% of teachers said it was a growing problem. However, when it came to older children, 75% of teachers found it was a problem.

The report quotes the principal of a primary school in Northern Ireland as saying that “the modern tablet technology had created a growing problem of cyber bullying.”

Researchers found that 73% of teachers in Northern Ireland were trained in cyber safety compared to 39% in the Republic of Ireland. Schools in Northern Ireland were also more likely to have a designated member of staff to deal with the issue.

Almost half of the schools surveyed had offered training to parents. But teachers say that parents do not comprehend the hazards of purchasing phones and tablets with internet access for their children.

Some teachers think that parents are abdicating responsibility because they buy the devices for their children and expect schools to deal with cyber bullying issues.

According to an Oireachtas document released by a team of Senators, The misuse of social media is affecting the mental health of Irish teenagers.

Paul C O’Dwyer of the National Anti-Bullying Coalition told the Oireachtas Communications Committee that some social media sites get thousands of requests each day and do not have enough personnel to deal with them.

The committee also urged that guidelines specific to cyberbullying be positioned nationally, so that school principals have a path to follow.

Committee vice-chairman John O’Mahony said: “There is no doubt that social media has immense potential for public good and civic engagement,” but called for “a more coordinated approach to tackling the irresponsible use” of social media sites.

The committee held hearings after a number of suicides last year were connected to cyberbullying.

Some of the recommendations in the report include:

  • When underage children open social media accounts, the relevant company must quickly close the account and delete all data connected to it.
  • Employers should be required to introduce a social media policy which clearly defines bullying and cyberbullying and describes the consequences of a breach in policy.
  • More focus should be placed on the education of parents, teachers and children on the safe use of the Internet.

The report referenced the debate centered on, an anonymous question and answer site frequented by teenagers in Ireland. When asked earlier this year about suicides which some have been connected to the website, founder of Mark Terebin said “As far as we can see, we only have this problem in Ireland and the United Kingdom most of all, trust me. There are no complaints regarding cyberbullying from parents, children or other sources in other countries. It seems that children are crueler in these countries.”

The Oireachtas Communications Committee  held hearings in regard to the number of suicides which were linked to cyber bullying last year. In a submission to the committee, St Patrick’s Hospital said: “Social media is having a negative effect on Irish child and adolescent mental health services in terms of cyber-bullying, exposure to unsuitable violent and sexual material, as well as excessive use of social media websites instead of actual social interaction.”

According to Pink News, Ireland’s minister for education and skills has announced new guidelines that require all schools to create a written plan to address and prevent anti-LGBT bullying.

Studies indicate that 50% of students have experienced verbal abuse with content and 25% have been subject to physical threats.

Declan Kelly, Deputy MD at ZenithOptimedia, said “We carried out this research to look at how Irish people are interacting with the internet on a daily basis but also to examine how safe the internet is.”

“What we found was that quite a large proportion of Irish children have experienced some form of online bullying. What it also showed was the inconsistency between parents’ perception of what’s happening with their children online and the reality.”

Sandra Irwin-Gowran, Director of Education Policy at Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), said: “These new procedures provide the opportunity to radically transform the lives of young LGBT people in every school in the country, and make Irish schools safe, supportive and affirming for young LGBT people.”

Advocates for LGBT youth praised the announcement from education minister Ruairí Quinn. “These new procedures, which are mandatory for both primary and post primary schools, provide the opportunity to radically transform the lives of young LGBT people in every school in the country and make Irish schools safe, supportive and affirming for young LGBT people,” Sandra Irwin-Gowran, director of education policy at Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said in a press release.

Michael Barron, director of Youth Services, issued a statement calling the policy “a major breakthrough.” He added, “Every class in every school in Ireland has LGBT students. Many schools are already working to create a climate that is safe and supportive for these students. Many other schools, however, are not working to support LGBT young people, and these procedures provide much-needed support and direction for those schools.”

“The fact that the Department of Education and Skills now requires all schools, both primary and post primary, to address bullying and to develop education strategies to ensure that LGBT young people are welcomed and supported in every school is a major breakthrough.” He added.

Meanwhile, a new bill promises to throw cyber-bullies in jail. Bullies would get up to 12 months in jail under a crackdown proposed by a senator who has been subjected to social media bullies

Lorraine Higgins has written a law intended to target those who attack people online. Posting a message that causes someone to take their own life would be an offense under the proposed bill.

Ms Higgins has reported two death threats to gardaí, as well as other messages threatening members of her family.

“They’ve no difficulty in communicating with Oireachtas members or agencies of this state when they’re seeking to avail of our corporation tax rate but yet when it comes to responsibility or their users they totally shirk that,” Ms Higgins said.

Penalties would also include a fine of up to 5,000 dollars.  Ms Higgins also said that “service providers needed to do more,” and she is concerned that Facebook never answered a complaint she made.

The Galway senator believes it is time to take this issue more seriously. “It is necessary in order to keep our online social media platforms a safe and decent place for everyone to discuss ideas and debate, she said. “I am absolutely intent on bringing forward a piece of legislation that will protect people, not just politicians but to protect vulnerable people and children.”

Ms Higgins, who has background in law, said that “the nature of offences would mean abuse would be considered case by case…and that the  media must be held as accountable as traditional outlets when used as a platform for abuse and bullying.”

Ex-minister Pat Rabbitte is bringing a separate bill forward. The former Labor leader’s proposal would make it an offense “to send, or cause to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or menacing in character.”

The horrifying result of bullying is still front-page news in Ireland:

Gardai are asking for help in finding Jasmine Scally, a missing teenager from Ronanstown. She was last seen on September 17, 2016 in Douglas, Cork. She is 5ft 8in tall, with dark hair and brown eyes. When last seen, Jasmine had on black leggings, a black jacket and a black shirt. Anyone who knows where Jasmine can be found is asked to contact the Gardaí.

Bullying is nothing new; it’s been around since ancient times, but when you think of the progress we’ve made in other areas since the Stone Age, it’s clear that it’s high time to stamp it out.

Bullying in Ireland is a serious issue that is now being recognized by the country. Tragic incidents of suicide have forced everyone concerned to pay attention to bullying in the schools and on the Internet. The schools in Ireland are gearing up rapidly to solve this problem, as well as other social issues.

Junior high and high school principles are calling for Facebook and other social media sites to appoint staff members to take calls from schools and parents in an effort to help stop cyber bullying.

When allowed to run rampant, this aggressive and harmful behavior can lead to very bad outcomes for both the bully and the bullied. Conversely, everyone benefits when bullying can be reduced or eliminated

Technology has brought joy and hope to many, but like any new innovation, it can be used for the good of society, or to its detriment.

Hopefully, parents, educators, authorities and  social media sites will stop blaming each other and team up to eliminate the blight of bullying and the scourge of cyber bullies.


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