The cyberbullying project began last November in Colaiste Iosagain, Portarlington when the Transition Year co-ordinator, Margaret Nolan, was approached by the vice-principal, Siobhan Higgins, asking if students could to give a presentation on cyber bullying to the other pupils.
The aim of this presentation would be to help raise awareness of cyber bullying and to help all of the students understand its consequences. Splitting up into three groups, the Transition Year students began gathering information and advice on how to deal with cyber bullying.
One of the groups carried out a survey among first year students in the school and presented their findings to the rest of the school during their presentation. The survey showed that cyber bullying was becoming more of an issue among younger students.
As part of the project, many of the students looked up examples of cyber bullying online by looking at Facebook and Ask.fm pages of bullying victims. Some of the comments included “Nice make-up, is it nutella?” and “No one likes you, get some real friends.”
One person in each group was given the task of putting all of the information into a power-point presentation, which was then presented to the school principal and vice-principal for it to be approved.
At the assemblies, the Transiton Years gave the other students information on cyber bullying as well as some characteristics a cyber bullying victim might have.
“They might avoid school, or contact with technology, they might appear isolated, they might be very reluctant or uncomfortable when talking about their online activity.”
They also informed the other students that bullies usually bully because of their own problems.
“They might do it because of their own low self-esteem, they may have been a victim of bullying themselves, it may make the bully feel powerful or the bully might be too cowardly to say it in person.”
They also gave the students helpful tips on staying safe online as well as phone numbers for important helplines like the National Association for Victims of Bullying and Childline.
The TY years also visited two primary schools - St Patrick’s Boys Naitonal School in Portarlington and the Gaelscoil in Portlaoise.
They spoke with the sixth class. The primary school students were asked how many of them had a mobile phone or a Facebook account.
To the surprise of many TY students, most of the hands went up.
“They’re only in primary school, that’s really scary!” said one transition year.
Another group of Transition Year students gave their presentation at a parentl Suicide Awareness Night in Coláiste Íosagáin. The students believed was well-received by the parents in the school.
Three Transition Year students and their English teacher represented their class on the Will Faulkner Show on Midlands 103 where they discussed cyber bullying and shared their opinion on the subject.
On the show, the students explained some of the consequences of cyber bullying and the effects it can have on both the bully and the victims as well as giving their opinion on cyber bullying,
“Cyber bullying is really common among teenagers today, we definitely need to educate more people about it.”