Students seek cyber-bullying input

Young prefer to learn about online care from peers not authority, conference told

Student messages on how to solve cyber-bullying will be sent to Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Student messages on how to solve cyber-bullying will be sent to Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

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GENEVIEVE CARBERY

Young people should be consulted on Government policies affecting cyber-bullying, a secondary school student conference was told today.

Some 150 young people from over a dozen Dublin schools attended the ‘Empowering our Generation’ conference organised by Drimnagh Castle secondary school student council.

A preference for learning about taking care of themselves online from peers rather than looking to authoritative figures was one of the major issues discussed among students.

The council organised the conference to allow for input of young people on the best way to tackle cyber-bullying, student council spokesman and sixth class student Warren Farrell said.

Speakers at the conference were cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Brian O’Neill of the DIT School of Media about cyber-bullying statistics.

“We promote students teaching parents [about cyber-bullying] and we think education is key,” Mr Farrell said.

The young people also discussed issues around parents monitoring their online activity. “Students said it was their social space ….when their parents were young they would not have expected to be followed,” Mr Farrell said.

Another issue discussed among students was that cyberbullying seemed to be more prevalent among girls, Mr Farrell said.

As part of an interactive session students wrote messages on a ’post-it’ wall about how to solve cyber-bullying, which will be compiled and sent to Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn.

“We wanted students to know how get the message out to the Minister about what young people think,” Mr Farrell said.

The meeting was part of a range of initiatives by the student council of the all-boy’s secondary school to try and combat cyber-bullying.

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