Report finds 44% of Irish teens subjected to violence at school

Bullying and physical fights ‘pervasive part of young people’s education in Ireland’ – Unicef

Nearly half of Irish teenagers (44 per cent) say they experience peer violence at school, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). Image: iStock

Nearly half of Irish teenagers (44 per cent) say they experience peer violence at school, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). Image: iStock

 

Nearly half of Irish teenagers (44 per cent) say they experience peer violence at school, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

The report, which looked at bullying worldwide, notes that while girls and boys are equally at risk of bullying, girls are more likely to become victims of psychological forms of bullying and boys are more at risk of physical violence and threats.

Some 28 per cent of Irish students aged 13 to 15 said they had been bullied at school at least once in the past couple of months, with 27 per cent saying they had been involved in a physical fight at least once in the past year.

The report, the Irish element of which is based on data from the World Health Organisation’s Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study, says that peer violence is “a pervasive part of young people’s education in Ireland” which impacts on students’ learning and their wellbeing.

The report, entitled An Everyday Lesson: #ENDviolence in Schools, is based on Unicef analysis of data from 122 countries around the world.

An average of three in 10 students from the 39 industrialised countries examined admitted to bullying their peers.

Fundamental

Peter Power, Unicef Ireland executive director, said education is fundamental in a child’s life and every child should feel safe and secure at school.

“Violence is not a lesson any child needs to learn,” he said. “Experiencing violence has serious effects on a child’s wellbeing, and in the long-term it can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide. No child should go into school fearing violence.”

It also says that in an increasingly digital world, bullies are disseminating violent, hurtful and humiliating content online “with the tap of a key”.

Unicef called for the strengthening of bullying and violence prevention and response measures in schools, for communities and individuals to join students as they speak out about violence and to work to change the culture of classrooms and communities, and for the collection of more data on violence against children in and around schools.

Irish teenagers trying to combat violence and bullying in their school have been asked to provide details of how they are doing so on the Unicef website.