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Cyber Bullying Guide

General Awareness

At this point in time there is clear generational distinction between the Digital Natives – our teenage population who have grown up with new media and Digital Immigrants – the older generation of parents and teachers that has grown up without new media. Our young people are more in tune with, more accustomed to and indeed probably more dependent on technology.

ChildWise research (Irish children aged 5-16 years) found that children spend approx. 1hr 20min a day online.
1/3 of children access the Internet from their bedroom.

While new developments have undoubtedly brought benefits to business, education and life in general, they have also brought extra pressures when mew media particularly social networking sites are abused.

The top 2 sites accessed by Irish children aged 5-16 years are Facebook and YouTube

Specific online and social networking risks include:

Online bullying or ‘cyberbullying’ as it has come to be known.
“Cyberbullying is any behaviour performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discomfort on others ” (Tokunaga, 2010)

It differs from traditional bullying and is potentially more damaging because

  • There is a larger audience.
  • No time/location barriers. Bullying can now take place 24/7
  • Because it is on line it reduces empathy as victims reaction often not seen

Posting information that

(a) could be used to embarrass or manipulate them;

(b) could cause psychological harm;

(c) could be used by criminals to steal their identity or property or – though very rare – determine their physical location to cause physical harm.

Dangers associated with online activity include:

Damage to reputation or future prospects because of young people’s own behaviour or that of their peers – unkind or angry posts, compromising photos or videos, or group conflict depicted in text and imagery.
Spending too much time online, losing a sense of balance in life.
Exposure to inappropriate content – although, typically, worse content can be found out on the Web at large.
Potential for inappropriate contact with adults (parents need to ensure that social networking does not lead to offline contact unapproved by them and other caring adults in their children’s lives).

General Advice

  • Make sure your Facebook account is private –either “friends only” or customise your settings.
  • Make a good strong Password and keep it private
  • Your password should contain CAPITAL and lowercase letters (A b C), symbols (* & %) and numbers (3567)
  • Use different passwords for each account – otherwise you risk someone getting at all your accounts if your password is compromised.
  • Only accept people as “friends” if you know them in real life
  • Do not post personal information like address, phone number etc.
  • Do not post pictures that give away personal information
  • Remember –Once you post something online it is out of your control. It can be copied, pasted, or forwarded by other people.

What to do . . .

What to do if a Student is Cyber-bullied? Immediate Actions

  • Remind them it is not their fault -It’s the person doing the bullying that’s got the problem
  • Don’t Reply to the sender
  • Keep the Message
  • Block the Sender/Remove as Friend
  • Report Problems to website/mobile phone operator
  • Report Serious Issues to the Gardaí

Illegal issues include someone making inappropriate sexual suggestions, racist remarks,        or persistent bullying that is seriously damaging to the victim’s well-being.

  • Let us know in school what is happening so that we can help.

Bullying of students is handled in the school under the behaviour code section 3.3.d and 6.3.c. which states:

‘Anti-social acts against any member of the school community such as bullying, intimidation, extortion, rough conduct, harassment, teasing and exclusion will not be tolerated.  Breach of this rule will be handled in accordance with the Anti-Bullying Policy in the school.  Any act of assault or violence against any member of the school community will be considered a grave offence’. (3.3.d)

In reference to behaviours in 3.3.d  incidents will be investigated by the Year Head and/or Deputy Principal and the seriousness of the and nature of the incident determined.  Procedures outlined in the School Bullying Policy will be followed in handling such situations and the determination and imposition of sanctions will be a matter for the Discipline Committees.  (6.3.c)

The school policy on bullying covers the following based on the The Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour in Primary and Post Primary Schools (pdf) published by the Department of Education and Skills

  • The creation of a school ethos that encourages students to tell about bullying.
  • Raising of awareness of bullying as unacceptable behaviour with management, students, teachers and parents
  • Monitoring and supervision of school activities
  • Developing procedures for reporting, investigating and dealing with bullying
  • Developing a programme of support for those affected by bullying and those involved in bullying
  • Working with local agencies to combat all forms of bullying in school and the local community.

We developed this page in the school to assist parents and students to better manage activity on social networking site. In developing the page we are indebted to materials developed by Maureen Griffin.

Social Media Guide

You will find a guide to Social Media Platforms for Parents and Carers here.

The Digital age of consent in Ireland is 16 – does that mean it is illegal for me to sign up to a social media account if I am under 16?

The Digital Age of Consent in Ireland is 16 under section 31 of the Data Protection Act 2018. This means that in order to legally process the personal data of a person under the age of 16, a social media platform must make reasonable efforts to obtain the consent of that person’s parents. It is the social media platform, rather than the child, which could be in trouble if someone who is under 16 signs up themselves. Additionally, most social media platforms provide that a person under the age of 13 cannot set up an account even if they have their parent’s consent.


Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos, text, and drawings. The appeal of Snapchat is the messages disappear after 10 seconds and can only be viewed once.

You must be 13 years old to set up a Snapchat account. 


Facebook has over 955 million active users, more than half of them using Facebook on a mobile device (Facebook, June 2012).

Facebook is for 13 years & older.

If Facebook discovers a user under 13, they (say they) will delete the profile.

In particular we recommend that you check that your son/daughter has posted his/her correct age on the profile since there are protections in place for teens under the age of 18 and these should be availed of.

1.      We strongly recommend that as a parent you look at the following links since they have invaluable advice and information on protecting your son/daughter online. :

2.      We recommend to students that you get to know how to manage the settings page…

Here you can

  • Customize settings
  • Control who can send you messages
  • Control who can search for you online
  • Control who can ask you to be friends
  • Control who can post on your wall (Profile)
  • Remove a friend
  • Control pictures others post of you
  • Managing your timeline.

3.  We also recommend that you familiarise yourself with the method of reporting problems including ‘social reporting’.



  • No. 1 online video site –72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (YouTube, 2012).
  • Enables users to upload and share original videos
  • Can also comment on videos uploaded –can post anonymously.  Unfortunately, Inappropriate videos or comments are often posted (fighting/dangerous driving/sexual content etc.)
  • Children should be 13 years old to use YouTube
  • YouTube is a self-policing site –encourage students to report inappropriate/illegal material

In relation to maintaining your reputation of countering bullying, we recommend that you learn how to removing Inappropriate Videos – especially if they reflect on a friend or yourself.

The quickest way to get a video removed is by the person who put up the clip. The following link shows how to do this:

Mobile Phones

Main Concerns regarding mobile phones are

  • Cyber-bullying
  • Use of phones during school
  • Sexting

Cyber-bullying can take place on a student’s mobile phone as well as on other devices. It is particularly problematic as the student has their phone on them so much of the time outside of school.

Use of phones during school

The use of phone during school is covered by the school Behaviour Code.

5.1.c It is our expectation that the teaching-learning environment be free from distraction. Mobile Phones and other devices.

Mercy Mounthawk is promoting a ‘phone-free’ environment. A student
bringing a phone to school must carry it in a Yondr pouch. Students may not
use phones during the times of the school day or during school activities
unless given permission by a teacher. Each student will be assigned a
personal Yonder Pouch. It is each student’s responsibility to bring their Yondr
Pouch with them to school each day, to keep it in good condition and not
damage it and to report to the Year Head if there are any issues with their

Authorised use of phone during school day.
Phones may be un-pouched by teachers in class throughout the school day
where the teacher feels the use of a phone will be of benefit in teaching and


“Sexting” or “Sex texting” refers to children sending nude or semi-nude photos to others with their mobile phones

•Research suggests that 22% of teen girls and 20% of teen boys have engaged in sexting (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy)

•Irish experience – (10 years +) most common amongst 3rd year students (1 in 4)

•Main reasons –Pressure, flirt, attention, to be popular, revenge

There are specific risks attendant on this behaviour:

  • Pictures may be distributed to others (mobile or internet)
  • Increase risk of victimization (bullying)
  • Mental health issues/Anxiety/Depression/Suicide
  • There may be implications in Law –Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998
  • Future employment and college admission may be jeopardized

We strongly recommend that following:

  • We recommend that parents consider the use of MobileMinder for Parents.  Go to to find out details.
  • We recommend that you check out Block It –O2 service –block unwanted text, pictures & video messages
  • Instil in children the understanding that, while social media outlets such as Snapchat delete media after a short time, it is very easy for others to ‘screengrab’ the content and store it permanently.

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