Homophobic bullying 'widespread'

Mon, Jun 15, 2009, 01:00

Homophobic bullying is widespread and must be tackled, Minister for Children Barry Andrews has said.

Speaking at the launch of a report on teenage mental health this morning, the Minister said young people should be educated about the serious dangers of homophobic bullying.

And he said, it was particularly worrying to hear that some young people had experienced homophobic bullying by teachers.

The report, Teenage Mental Health: What helps what hurts, was produced following consultation with 277 young people in Athlone, Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Sligo through the Office of the Minister for Children.

It found that self-image, school and exam pressure and family relationships were the top three areas which affected the mental health of teenagers. They were also affected by bullying, peer-pressure, death, isolation and relationships with boyfriends and girlfriends.

Confusion and slagging about sexual orientation was cited as a big source of bullying in the report and bullying was experienced in school, on the internet, via mobile and in sports clubs as well as in large groups.

Mr Andrews said young gay people had told him their experiences of homophobic bullying were significant and damaging and had left some people very traumatised.

"Homophobic bullying is widespread and must be tackled," he said.

He also said the use of new technology in bullying, including social network sites and text messaging, meant the perpetrators did not see the consequences of their actions.

It was also particularly worrying to hear that some young people had experienced homophobic bullying from teachers, the Minister said.