Today, Facebook and the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) at DCU have launched a three-year partnership which will see an anti-bullying and online safety training programme offered to every post-primary school in Ireland.

Supported by Facebook leading ABC experts will offer this training and research programme to teachers and parents of 12 – 17-year-old students across the country. Through face-to-face workshops and online modules, participants will be equipped with the tools to identify and understand bullying and develop the skills to support students when it comes to online safety.

Speaking at the launch, Professor James O’Higgins Norman, ABC Director and UNESCO Chair on Tackling Bullying in Schools and Cyberspace said, “In a study we conducted in 2017, school principals cited a lack of time and resources available to train teachers and the need for additional support as the main challenges in tackling bullying and online safety in schools. Through this partnership we are aiming to deliver much-needed training in tackling bullying and online safety for both teachers and parents in schools nationwide. By adopting a train-the-trainer approach this programme will empower teachers and parents to further educate whole-school communities in bullying, cyberbullying and online safety issues.”

Upon completion of this programme, parents and teachers will be able to:

Define and identify bullying, cyberbullying, and online safety;
Engage empathically with children and young people;
Investigate and resolve reported incidents;
Teach children and adolescents how to nurture respectful relationships, and develop better communication skills offline and online; and
Support colleagues in strengthening their abilities to educate young people about bullying, cyberbullying, and online safety.

Julie de Bailliencourt, Facebook Global Safety Policy Manager commented: “We are delighted to support the work of the National Anti-Bullying Centre through this partnership. Making sure people feel safe when they come to Facebook is our most important responsibility, especially when it comes to young people. Through partnerships like this one, we know we can all better tackle the issue of bullying, whether offline or online.

“Over the last 14 years, we have built and continued to improve our safety policies and reporting processes and we want everybody who uses Facebook to feel safe and supported when they connect online with their friends and family. Over the three years of this initiative, we aim to help teachers and parents understand the complexities of bullying and develop the skills to support students when it comes to online safety.”

The programme, which is scheduled to begin in January 2019, will be offered to an estimated 800 post primary schools across Ireland and will operate within the framework of the Department of Education & Skills recently published Wellbeing Policy for schools and the Government’s Action Plan for Online Safety. It is also designed to support the implementation of the Government’s Action Plan on Bullying (2013) and will be delivered to teachers with support from the Association of Teachers’ Education Centres in Ireland.

Commenting on the partnership, DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith said:

“This partnership between Facebook and the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU is an excellent initiative and will have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of students and their families. I welcome the fact that the focus is on providing training for teachers and parents who are both faced with the growing challenge of supporting students dealing with all the complexities and dangers associated with bullying, cyberbullying, and online safety. The award of the prestigious UNESCO Chair on Tackling Bullying in Cyberspace and Schools earlier this year is a measure of the global scale of the problem and of the expertise developed by Prof. O’Higgins and his team. This project is an excellent manifestation of the public good that can derive from that.”

John Church, CEO of the ISPCC also supported the partnership, saying, “The ISPCC is delighted to support this new evidence-based schools’ programme to be delivered by Dublin City University and funded by Facebook. Through our work with children and young people, the ISPCC is acutely aware of how bullying and online safety issues can impact upon a young person’s life, their self-esteem and their ability to grow. These issues are not something that any person, but particularly any child or young person, should ever have to experience.

Adding, “The Action Plan on Bullying requires schools to address the issue of bullying across their entire school community, while the first National Action Plan for Online Safety highlights the need for improved online safety education for all. This approach in the delivery of the programme is very much welcome – children, parents, teachers and the wider school community all have an important role to play in tackling bullying and helping children and young people to stay safe online.”

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