Teens ©

What you are aware of, you are in control of. What you are unaware of controls you.

Gene Barry


The Emotional Awareness Course for Teens is a 2 hour weekly course that runs for 8 weeks. The objective of this course if to enable teens to become aware of their emotions and to know how to control them. The teens attending will also become aware of their thinking patterns, how they are affected by them and how to rid of negative thoughts. In other words, the objective of this course is for the teens attending to feel calm, happy and peaceful in all aspects of their lives. For bookings and information call 022 46618.


Everyone has some degree of emotional intelligence. Some people are naturally very emotionally intelligent, while others may find that at least some of the time, emotions become overwhelming and interfere with their communication and relationships and lead them to say or do something they later regret. For some people, these difficulties can be persistent and cause major problems at school. Many studies have found that higher emotional intelligence, more than academic ability, has been shown to improve lifelong physical and mental health and can also make it more likely that a person will succeed in school and in the workplace. Self-awareness can play a key role in EQ, however being aware of the emotions of other people is also important.

Much of what teens do online releases dopamine into the brain's pleasure centres, resulting in obsessive pleasure-seeking behaviour. The user-friendly software in a devise you are using means that it is easy for you to understand and use. However, the workings of many of today’s social media apps result in addictiveness. Is it possible that internet companies are hijacking neuroscience to gain market share and make large profits? Are social media companies creating an obsession, and then exploiting it? Gaming companies talk openly about creating a compulsion loop.


The compulsion to continually check social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Email, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter etc. on smartphones is driven in some cases by dopamine releases that occur in anticipation of receiving good news. It also causes anxiety due to fear of what you may have missed, have been excluded from, have been included in that you did not want to be part of, seeing something shocking, not getting the likes you anticipated, receiving negative comments etc. The growing influence of social media on Irish teens’ self-esteem results in almost half of them “always or sometimes” feeling disappointed if they don't get a response quickly after they have posted.


A study published in the Irish Medical Journal suggested that Social Networking Site (SNS) usage amongst Irish teenagers poses significant dangers, which are going largely unaddressed. The study found that 33% of users thought they spent too much time using SNSs, 40% had tried to spend less time using SNSs, and 40% found it difficult to resist SNSs. 


Tuesday June 27th 2017

Snapchat introduce location map


A new Snapchat update introducing a map feature that will let their users track each other’s exact location in real-time is raising safety concerns for parents. The Programme director of CyberSafeIreland, Cliona Curley is advising parents to ensure that the privacy settings on their children’s apps are secure. “It’s not a good thing if kids are giving away personal information online, that could include anything from their full name, to their age, to their location. In terms of location in particular, it’s very easy for adults with a sexual interest in children to find them online and correspond with them,” Ms Curley said.


Snapchat ‘Snap Maps’ puts users and their photos onto the new interactive in-app map where their friends and other Snapchat users can track where they are at any given time. The user’s videos and photos posted publicly can then be discovered by anyone on the map. When users of Snapchat activate this feature for the first time, they will be given three options: to make their location visible to all their friends, to selected friends only or to no one at all. Snapchat is calling the latter option ‘ghost mode’. The users who have chosen to share their location with their in-app friends can be seen on a map that shows the exact street they are on, and their precise location on that street.


Safety fears

When a Snapchat users select Ghost Mode, their location is not available to anyone else on the map. However, there are added dangers when people can physically locate your children, as many apps will try to share their location. In certain instances, both children and parents are not aware of this. The CyberSafeIreland Programme Director has advised parents to keep in close contact with their children who are using social media apps, and to keep track of who they’re adding as friends. If parents want to keep their children safe while using Snapchat, it is most important they ensure that the Snapchat ‘ghost mode’ is being used. Parents need to review their children’s friend lists, ensuring that they know everyone on it.

 

UNICEF report on teen suicide in Ireland

21st June 2017


Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries is the first report to assess the status of children in 41 high-income countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified as most important for child wellbeing. UNICEF Ireland chief executive Peter Power described the report card as a "wake-up call" for Ireland. "Despite economic recovery and the idea that the consequent rising tide will benefit everyone, it is clear children are experiencing real and substantial inequality," he said. "Services are inadequate in several areas and policy change is badly needed."


This report from UNICEF shows that Ireland has the fourth highest rate of suicide amongst teenagers in the EU/OECD region. This latest report card on child well-being which shows that Ireland’s rate for teens losing their lives by suicide is much higher than the international average. The Psychology Society of Ireland, ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday have called for great focus on measures to tackle the high rates of suicide among teenagers in Ireland.


The society’s chief executive Terri Morrissey said depression and suicidal thoughts among teenagers were major health problems in Ireland but early intervention and the promotion of well-being and resilience could prevent such issues. “Far too often we hear about such issues when it is already too late and we have to deal with the consequences and aftermath. Intervening at an early stage would have been effective,” she said.


Ms Morrissey added, “there is a range of methods and therapies that have been demonstrated to have been effective and which can be used to prevent behavioural, psychological and emotional problems. Well-being and resilience can be promoted through sport, exercise, healthy eating, parental support and other forms of physical, emotional and mental development.”


The rate for Irish adolescents aged between 15 and 19 per 100,000 population Ireland’s 10.3, ranking 34th out of the 37 wealthy nations surveyed. This seriously high rate is well above the national country average of 6.1 per 100,000.


This report shows another worry, with a rise in the self-reporting of mental health issues among adolescents in Ireland. It tells us that 22.6% of children aged between 11 and 15 have stated that they had experienced two or more psychological symptoms more than once a week.


Other findings regarding Irish children: 

  • 18.3% of children are living in relative income poverty

  • 23% of children in Ireland are living in multidimensional poverty

  • 17.9% of Irish children under 15 live with an adult who is ‘food insecure’

  • 9.1% of 15-19-year-olds here are not in education, employment or training



Europol Report

19th June 2017


The European Union police agency Europol launched a campaign warning of the rise in online extortion targeting children. Children as young as 7 are falling prey to the crime known as sextortion or webcam blackmail. This online coercion and extortion of children, which is a form of digital blackmail where sexual information or images are used to extort sexual material, sexual favours or money has rocketed in recent years and remains largely under-reported. The criminals prey on children who have shared sexual images of themselves online, targeting them to get more sexually explicit material for financial gain.


A new trend is where the perpetrator demands for the victim child to include other children, such as peers or siblings in the images/videos.  In these instances, children who use safe practices online, or younger children who may not use the Internet can be targeted. It is most important not to underestimate the personal and psychological toll on these victims as a number of children have reportedly committed suicide in the last few years having fallen victim to this crime.


Europol’s report reveals that female child victims are being blackmailed more significantly for sexually explicit material (84%) compared to their male counterparts (53%). The exact figures regarding the increase in the crime are not available, in many instances because the victims are unwilling to make a report due to embarrassment regarding the material they provided or lack of awareness that they have been subjected to a criminal offence. Europol says the phenomenon is skyrocketing and therefore cyber safety is a most important child protection issue and we need to listen to young people and children and be there for them.


Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre; “Children are increasingly using the online environment to communicate and form relationships and this should be considered as a natural part of their development. However, it is our collective responsibility to educate them on the threats they may experience and also protect them to make the online environment as safe as possible.  Where something untoward happens online we should provide clear and effective reporting and support mechanisms so they understand where to turn to for assistance. Don’t pay and don’t feel embarrassed to report it to the police. If someone threatens you with sharing sexual photos or videos of you unless you send them more or pay them money, follow these steps:


  • Don’t share more, don’t pay anything.

  • Look for help. You are not alone.

  • Preserve evidence. Don’t delete anything.

  • Stop the communication. Block the person.

  • Report it to the police.


https://www.europol.europa.eu/sayno.


The Mental Health of Young People in Ireland, a report published by the RCSI illustrated the scale of anxiety for young Irish people. The research, conducted by Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan Group, found that approximately one in eight young adolescents had experienced an anxiety disorder. This report also found that by the age of 24, one in four had experienced either a mood or anxiety disorder.


The scale of anxiety has been described as a silent epidemic by experts. Dr Harry Barry, whose Flagging series of books covers anxiety, phobia and depression, recounts the principal of a large Dublin school telling him that, the single greatest problem in our school is the extraordinary level of anxiety. Dr Barry says there are many schools who maintain special rooms during exams to cater for students worried about panic attacks.


“As much as they would like to think otherwise, the teenage brain is not good at multitasking. Having a constant stream of messages and updates arriving on their smartphones is a major distraction to students trying to study.”

Luke Saunders

Founder of Studyclix  

​​

Studies have shown that over 50% of Irish teens are addicted to their mobile phones, and like all addictions this leads to other problems. Nomophobia, the fear of being without your mobile phone leads to a form of anxiety disorder. ​

Anxiety is our mind and body's natural reaction to a threat or danger and is most often referred to as our Fight or Flight response. When our brain interprets a harmless situation as something dangerous, our body becomes unbalanced and resorts to automatic defence mechanisms, paralysing us and making us more vulnerable. Our body then releases hormones such as adrenaline, which in turn results in physiological reactions occurring in our body. Anxiety can lead to depression, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, stress, migraines, nausea, nervousness, phobias and queasiness.


In June 2017, health researchers at DCU's School of Health and Human Performance found that the ability of children to master basic tasks is not meeting developmental milestones for fine motor skills. Their research also revealed showed that 36% of 11-12-year-olds are below average in tasks such as drawing shapes and sorting cards.


In April 2017, the results of a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Pisa (OECD) revealed that almost two thirds of Irish students interviewed said that even when well prepared for an exam, they suffered from anxiety. This Irish statistic is indeed worrying as it is almost 20% higher than the OECD average.

Anxiety is the greatest obstacle for teenagers today. A survey carried out by the Irish Examiner and published in March 2017 showed that if they were having emotional problems, 67% of the teens surveyed said that they would not go to their GP, 65% said they would be unlikely to go to the school counsellors, 56% said they would not go to a counsellor and 39% said they would turn to family. 


A further 43% of the young people surveyed stated that social media was causing them difficulties in their lives.

Almost 75% of the teens surveyed said that the pressure to excel in exams, to be popular in school, and have the perfect body was causing them stress.


Statistics regarding other issues were:

  • body image 72%

  • friends 69%

  • family 63%

  • social media 43%

In a separate study carried out by Student Attitudes Index also in March 2017, almost half the children in Irish secondary schools said that they are addicted to smartphones with even greater numbers admitting to routinely and secretly checking devices in class.

This study also revealed that 53 per cent of girls in sixth year do not participate in PE classes at all, compared to just 15 per cent in second year. Stressing about exams remains the students’ biggest worry with 70 per cent identifying exams as the most stressful thing in their lives.

 

Children's ability to master basic tasks declining, study finds


Wednesday, June 07, 2017 


There are claims that motor development skills of Irish children are not progressing at the expected rate.

Health researchers at DCU's School of Health and Human Performance have found that the ability of children to master basic tasks is not meeting developmental milestones for fine motor skills .


The results come from a sample of 253 children in Irish primary schools and show that 36% of 11-12 year-olds are below average in tasks such as drawing shapes and sorting cards.

It also found that 13% of children in second class did not match their respective milestone - while 14% of fourth class children also had difficulties.

David Gaul from UCD, one of the lead researchers of the project, says the results are worrying.

"These basic tasks have been used for years to establish, and they're well established, norms of values for young children for tasks they do in everyday life and in school," he said. "It's particularly alarming that these basic skills are not being developed at the rate that they have previously been developed."


The results come from a sample of 253 children in Irish primary schools and show that 36% of 11-12 year-olds are below average in tasks such as drawing shapes and sorting cards. It also found that 13% of children in second class did not match their respective milestone - while 14% of fourth class children also had difficulties.

David Gaul from UCD, one of the lead researchers of the project, says the results are worrying.

"These basic tasks have been used for years to establish, and they're well established, norms of values for young children for tasks they do in everyday life and in school," he said. "It's particularly alarming that these basic skills are not being developed at the rate that they have previously been developed."



Worldwide less than one third of young people are sufficiently active to benefit their current and future health 


Females are less active than males. In addition, the proportion of children and young people who walk or cycle to school, a source of daily physical activity, is declining dramatically (17). Schools are an important setting for young people to take part in, and learn about, physical activity.


Through physical education programmes, free play activity and extra-curricular sport, schools can provide time, facilities and guidance for children and youth to safely access physical activity opportunities and develop competence and confidence in an environment that is supported by teachers, parents and friends. Schools are also a setting for under-represented population sub groups to gain access to quality physical activity experiences.


However, decreasing physical education programmes in schools, pressure from the school curriculum to reduce time spent in free play, lack of training and senior management support for teachers, particularly at the primary level, and the removal of dedicated green spaces or play areas in schools is an alarming trend worldwide.


The challenge of stemming the withdrawal of young people from structured clubs during their teenage years (particularly young girls) is daunting. For some children and youth, club involvement will give them an enriched experience to add to their physical education experience, for others it may lead to a discontinuation of sport.


Participation in extra school clubs is an important strategy to help children and young people achieve the recommended daily amount of physical activity. Innate gender differences, developmental differences among children with the same chronological age and the variety and quality of sport opportunities that children and youth are exposed to are some of the factors that make working with children and youth very challenging.


It is important that teachers, coaches and club volunteers are provided with appropriate support to assist them develop their pedagogical and coaching skills in order to meet the demands of mixed ability. An understanding of the factors influencing successful involvement in physical activity, physical education and extra-school club sport is essential.


Physical inactivity is a major underlying cause of death, disease and disability (22). There is increasing concern at the rapidly decreasing levels of fitness in children and youth (23). Preliminary data from a World Health Organisation (WHO) study on risk factors identified a sedentary lifestyle as one of the ten leading global causes of death and disability, with more than two million deaths each year are attributable to physical inactivity (24). Children and young people need to be encouraged to reduce the amount of time spent in sedentary activities such as TV and video viewing, and playing computer games especially during daylight hours.

 

Irish children are spending over five hours a day online

Friday, June 02, 2017

The World Health Organisation guidelines say that children should be spending no more than two hours per day in front of screens. A new obesity and behaviour study by iKydz has shown YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular sites visited by children. Current European guidelines also recommend no more than two hours per day of recreational screen time and according to the survey of 1,100 homes in Ireland, Irish children are trebling this guideline. Children as young as five are spending an average of five and a half hours a day online, with YouTube and other social media sites accounting for 86 per cent of their usage. The study also reported that parents were most concerned about the type of things their young children were accessing and then the amount of time older children and teenagers were spending online. Reachout.com has said that is extremely worrying as it means that children will find it difficult to switch off. 


The results of this study tell parents that their children are spending almost half of their day on IPad and other devices. Around 18 per cent of parents said the amount of time their children were spending online was a concern to them. Parents need to be conscious of their own internet use and set a good example to their children/teenagers. Establishing boundaries is another crucial necessity for parents, as 18.3 per cent of Irish parents fears of exposure to inappropriate content. Another worry, is that their children might come across something unsuitable online.  At 14 per cent, l ack of sleep caused by overuse of their screen devices was the third biggest worry for the parents surveyed.


The children’s social media sites usage was, YouTube 23%, Facebook 22%, Instagram 14%, Twitter 10%, WhatsApp 9%, Snapchat 8%, Netflix 5%, Amazon 4%, Xbox Live 3% and EA Games 2%.

Secondary school students believe social media affects studies

Mon, May 9, 2017

Shapchat overtakes Facebook as most used app among Irish secondary school students


More than half of Irish secondary school students said social media had affected their schoolwork, a new study has found. The second annual Student Attitudes Index by the Studyclix.ie website found 56 per cent of student said social media impact on their schoolwork while 76 per cent said they had used a smart phone to study.


The survey also found Snapchat has overtaken Facebook as the most used app among Irish secondary school students, with 90 per cent having a registered account. That is 10 per cent up on last year. However, 88 per cent said they use Facebook, with Instagram also very popular at 81 per cent, up from 68 per cent in 2015. Twitter use trails at 50 per cent.


Increasing numbers of school students (14 per cent) said they have signed up to adult dating app Tinder with usage levels running at 32 per cent among Sligo students, 24 per cent in Clare, 19 per cent in Cork, and 8 per cent in Dublin. The survey explored a range of topics and day-to-day issues experienced by secondary school students. It said its website is used by 57,031 registered secondary school students and also by thousands of registered secondary school teachers.


The survey involved 2,001 responses, 68 per cent girls, 32 per cent boys. Participation in the survey was heavily skewed towards students in senior years, ranging from 34 students in first years, through 123 second years, 448 third years, just 10, fourth/Transition years, 371 fifth years and 1,004 sixth years.


Where bullying is concerned, 58 per cent of the students said it is up to schools to stop bullying compared with 40 per cent who think it is the duty of online moderators and companies.

Schools should do more to stop bullying say 36 per cent of students while 39 per cent agree that LGBT students need to be better protected in schools. The students do not think too highly of politicians with 85 per cent claiming that newly elected TDs are only out for themselves.


More generally, 52 per cent of students think it unlikely or highly unlikely they will be able to purchase a house in their home county when they begin working while 50 per cent say it is unlikely or highly unlikely that they will end up working in their home county when they finish their education. The cost of rent will influence wherever in Ireland they choose to go to college/university 47 per cent say. When it comes to emigration 56 per cent think it ‘likely’ they will do so at some point in their lives.

    

Secondary School students admit to smartphone addiction

May 23rd 2017


Student Attitudes Index investigates device use, exercise and feeling on education loans


Almost half the children in Irish secondary schools say they are addicted to smartphones with even greater numbers admitting to routinely and secretly checking devices in class, according to a survey published this morning.


While the third annual Student Attitudes Index from website Studyclix.ie indicates that 60 per cent of students are worried about how much they used their phones, 80 per cent of more than 2,600 children polled said they also used the devices for educational purposes. The survey found that Snapchat remains the most used social media platform, with Instagram pushing Facebook out of the number two slot and Twitter someway adrift in fourth place. Almost one in 10 students said they had a Tinder account.


It revealed that girls in particular are turning their backs on exercise as they move up through the years at secondary school and suggests that 53 per cent of girls in sixth year do not participate in PE classes at all compared to just 15 per cent in second year.


Monthly payback

All told, 88 per cent of students said they would be prepared to pay back some money for student loans after college, with 24 per cent agreeing that somewhere between €150 and €160 a month would be acceptable.


Stressing about exams remains students’ biggest worry with 70 per cent identifying exams as the most stressful thing in their lives. Appearance was in second place on 11 per cent and family on 8 per cent.


Teenage brain

“As much as they would like to think otherwise, the teenage brain is not good at multitasking. Having a constant stream of messages and updates arriving on their smartphones is a major distraction to students trying to study,” Studyclix.ie founder Luke Saunders said.


Reacting to the survey, the head of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, Clive Byrne, recognised the importance of technology in the educational sphere but said many teachers were unaware of how easily students could be distracted by their mobile phones.


“My hunch is that many teachers don’t realise it is happening on the scale this survey suggests it is happening,” he said. “Maybe we need to be more reactive. I don’t think a blanket ban is the way forward, however, as there is little point in introducing a ban which is completely unenforceable.”



Report sheds light on digital addiction among Irish children

Mon, Feb 9, 2015

‘Net Children Go Mobile’ report reveals one in five have encountered distressing content

A major report published on internet use among Irish children shows that, while they are rapidly developing their online skills, a higher proportion are reporting seeing distressing content when using laptops, tablets and smartphones. One in five nine to 16-year-olds said they had accessed harmful or distressing content, double the rate in 2011.


In the 15-16 age bracket, the proportion saying they had seen something they wished they hadn’t – such as discriminatory messages, self-harm sites or forums discussing drug usage – was as high as 37 per cent.


The Net Children Go Mobile 2015 report, carried out through interviews with a nationally representative sample of 500 children by researchers at Dublin Institute of Technology, found just under half (46 per cent) had access to the internet from their bedrooms. And 14 per cent of this nine to 16-year-old cohort said they went online “a lot” after 9PM.


Dr Brian O’Neill, co-author of the report, says this incessant access to digital devices raises concerns about online bullying and access to harmful content.


“Young people are always online, always connected and always available with no escape.”

However, he believes parents must be careful not to lecture children about internet use. “Children often pick up these habits from parents. Digital use is a matter for everybody.”

The report found 60 per cent of children believe they know more about the internet than their parents, with young girls claiming a more critical understanding than boys. Their online skills include bookmarking websites, deleting website records, changing privacy settings and blocking messages from strangers.


Not surprisingly, young people are becoming more dependent on social networking sites for communicating with their peers. Nearly 40 per cent of those aged 11-12 admitted setting up a profile despite bans across most sites on users under 13 signing up.


This number has dropped since 2011, when 51 per cent of this age group were reportedly signing up to sites with phony accounts. In the latest report, nine out of 10 in the 15-16 age bracket said they had a social networking profile, while 58 per cent reported using the internet excessively.


A 16-year-old boy interviewed during the research confessed: “With the internet connected constantly you’re never offline . . . Like, you always log Facebook on your phone, unless you log out . . . but it’s kind of a hassle to log in and log out. But even if you sit in class; you can have 10 seconds and check your newsfeed.”


Peer pressure

Dr O’Neill blames peer pressure for the constant need to stay connected and worries it could lead to an increase in online bullying.

“The internet is a large, vast, unregulated space. There can be violent content, scary content, sexual content that disturbs them.”

Girls seem to be most vulnerable to online bullying, with 26 per cent reporting abuse compared with 17 per cent of boys.

The rate of reported online bullying increased from 22 per cent in 2011 to 23 per cent in 2014, despite claims from sites such as Facebook and Ask.fm of increased regulation and moderation.


Online abuse

A 13-year-old girl interviewed for the study spoke of the abuse she suffered online. “I cried, it was an old friend, who was jealous of me that because I went to this new school and she saw I have more friends and so, she was very jealous, she said bad things about me like I was ugly and I wasn’t spending much time with her, and I spend more time with other new friends not with her.”


Reports of exposure to sexual images have risen from 17 per cent in 2011 to 21 per cent, with children encountering hate and discriminatory messages, anorexic or bulimic content, self-harm sites and sites discussing suicide.


“Stranger danger” is another issue for many children when they are exploring the web.

“This is a very extreme and rare form of danger in terms of predatory contact,” says Dr O’Neill. “The internet has access on a global stage to lots of potentially unsavoury individuals.”


However, he says perceptions of internet safety in Ireland are changing, with parents becoming more proactive and engaging with their children’s internet use. Webwise.ie educates and promotes dialogue between children, teachers and parents on safe and appropriate use of the internet.

 


Bullying ©

The Oxford dictionary describes a bully as, A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.


Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against others. Bullying is defined as unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.


Types of Bullying


Cyber Bullying

This is a new strain of bullying which has emerged amongst children which utilises web pages, e-mails, and text messages. They are all used to intimidate, abuse and attack others either directly or indirectly by excluding, rumour mongering, criticising, falsely accusing, etc. Studies have shown that bullying is more prevalent now than it has ever been and due to swiftly evolving modern technology it has become more sophisticated and sinister. It is most unfortunate that many parents are unaware of the methodologies used in cyberbullying and therefore the punishing aftermath. In fact, some parents are unaware of its existence.


Exclusion Bullying

This style of bullying is particularly hurtful as it isolates the person from his/her peer group and it is extremely difficult for a child to counteract as it directly attacks their self-confidence, and image.


Extortion Bullying

Extortion bullying includes demands for possessions, finance, lunch money or food. This type of bullying is frequently accompanied by threats.


Physical Bullying

This type of bullying can often be misunderstood and thereby dismissed as horseplay, or that the bully is just pretending or playing a game. It is most important to be aware that these so-called games could be a precursor to future physical assaults and that boys and girls partake in physical bullying. Boys physical bully more than girls as they have a greater tendency towards physical aggression.


Verbal Bullying

Verbal attacks can be of a highly personal and sexual nature. This type of bullying can leave children feeling angry, frightened, and powerless. The bullying may be directed towards a child’s family, creed, race, colour or religion. When a child is unable to share their feelings with someone else it can leave them emotionally exhausted. Malicious rumours can be an indirect form of bullying. When this occurs, a child’s power of concentration will suffer and in turn will affects their ability to learn.   



Why do people bully?

While people can have a natural aggressive constitution, it is recognised that factors within the home, school or wider society influence the development of aggressive behaviour. If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, then there is the danger it can become habitual. Research indicates that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behaviour and domestic violence in adulthood.


Bullies search for any reason to taunt and ridicule their peers, where bullying puts the aggressor in a position of power and dominance while relegating the bullied person to a position of submission. When people get bullied, it is possible to turn the tables on bullies but this often requires adult intervention.


The reason why people get bullied stems from their socioeconomic standing, their behaviour, religious background, a speech impediment, their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, physical appearance, mannerisms, their academic performance and disabilities or quite simply because they are independent thinkers.


The vast majority of bullying happens to schoolchildren within the school setting; however, it can also occur outside school. It is imperative that parents and teachers recognise the reasons for which children become targets for bullies.


The effects of bullying include:

  • A desire for revenge

  • A feeling of being trapped

  • A feeling of being undesirable

  • A fear of going into buildings

  • A lack of control

  • Aggressive behaviour

  • Alcohol, drug, substance abuse

  • Anxiety about going to school

  • Attempted suicide

  • Avoiding group situations

  • Bitterness

  • Bowel problems

  • Comfort eating

  • Conflict avoidance

  • Depression

  • Deterioration in school work

  • Disconnected from school

  • Exhaustion

  • Feeling like an outcast 

  • Feelings of isolation

  • Feelings of loneliness

  • Frequent crying

  • Greater incidence of illness

  • Helplessness

  • Humiliation

  • Inability to focus

  • Incompetence

  • Insecurity

  • Irrational thinking

  • Lashing out 

  • Loss of confidence

  • Lack of appetite

  • Lack of energy

  • Lack of motivation

  • Lack of quality friendships at school

  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

  • Low levels of resilience

  • Low self-esteem

  • Lower academic outcomes

  • Mood swings

  • Nightmares

  • Panic attacks

  • Reduction in concentration

  • Sadness

  • Self-loathing

  • Shyness

  • Sleeping problems

  • Social withdrawal

  • Stomach problems

  • Stress

  • Suspicion of others

  • Vulnerability

  • Wanting to be left alone


Therapy for victims of bullying

If you are feeling any of the above, remember that you are not alone and that it is not your fault. Help is always available. Find someone who you can trust and who will listen to you. You need a supportive and safe environment to address your feelings in counselling or therapy. A trained therapist will help you to better understand how this bullying is/has impacted on your life. The therapist will teach you the correct coping skills to move forward. These include boundary-setting and assertive communication.


Although bullies may be reluctant to acknowledge their bullying, they equally benefit from therapy. This is a confidential environment where they learn to understand the impact their hurtful behaviour has had on their victim. It is a safe place for them to explore the reasons for their bullying. The therapist can teach them skills that will enable them to communicate positively with others and to address their personal experiences that may have contributed to their behaviour. Here they can resolve personal issues and wounds that may have contributed to their bullying. Addressing these wounds and identifying social issues will assist them in stopping their bullying.

 

Cyberbullying ©

Cyberbullying’ refers to bullying which is carried out using the internet, mobile phone or other technological devices and generally consists of offensive and malicious messages containing harassment, threats, exclusion, lies, rumours and photographs. In Ireland, a recent study has shown that up to 14% of students aged 12-16 have been cyberbullied, while 9% reported that they have bullied others in this way. Incidence rates for cyberbullying tend to be slightly higher among girls than boys.


Cyberbullying is the use of, either singularly or repeatedly, inappropriate behaviour or influence, directly or indirectly, either verbal, written, physical or through displays of or use of imagery, symbols or otherwise, to intimidate, torment, threaten, harass or embarrass others, using the Internet or other technology, such as mobile telephones. 


A nationwide survey of bullying in first and second level schools conducted by Trinity College Dublin estimates that some 31% of primary and 16% of secondary students have been bullied at some time. Of the total Irish school-going population, some 23% or 200,000 children are at risk of being victims of bullying. 74% of primary school children reported being bullied in the playground while 31% claimed that it occurred in the classroom.


At secondary level, pupils reported 47% of incidents in the classroom, 37% in the corridors, and 27% in the playground. 19% of the former and 8.8% of the latter grouping said they were victimised going to or from school. Other areas of attack included the toilets, changing rooms, locker areas and dormitories in boarding schools. Source: Nationwide Study on Bullying Behaviour in Irish Schools (O’Moore 1997),  Anti Bullying Centre, Trinity College Dublin.

Cyberbullying generally takes a psychological rather than physical form but is often part of a wider pattern of ‘traditional’ bullying.  It takes place when instant messages, emails, text messages or webpages are used to spread rumours, make threats or harass. It can include written messages, photographs, videos or voice messages. There is an enormous inconsistency between parents’ perception of what’s happening with their children online and the reality.


The people who use technology to bully may say things online or by text that they would never say face to face. The cyberbully cannot witness the negative impact they are having on their victim. In Ireland 68% of adult cyberbullying takes place on Facebook. Up to 15% of students in Ireland have been cyber bullied, while about half that number reported that they have bullied others. Irish teenagers appear more likely to be the victims of cyberbullying than teens in other countries a new survey has revealed.


A survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Vodafone found that one in four teens in Ireland had been cyberbullied compared with one in five across 11 other countries surveyed while most Irish teens lack the coping skills to deal with the abuse.


Almost two thirds of Irish teenagers described cyberbullying as being worse than face-to-face bullying while just over half said it was a bigger problem than drug abuse for young people.

The global survey of almost 5,000 teenagers across 11 countries including Ireland has revealed found that 45 per cent of Irish teenagers felt helpless when they were the victims of cyber-bullying while 29 per cent admitted that they felt “completely alone” when they were targeted. One in four of those who had been cyberbullied went so far as to experience suicidal thoughts as a result.


Nine in ten Irish teens said they would find it easier to cope with cyberbullying if they received support from their friends on social media however four in ten admitted that they would find it hard to find the right words to support a friend who was being bullied online.

Almost three quarters of Irish teens surveyed said they would be likely to use an emoji to express compassion or support for friends being cyberbullied.

A study in 2016 by ZenithOptimedia revealed that one in five Irish kids say that they have been the victim of cyberbullies and that Irish parents significantly underestimate how common cyberbullying is with children, just 10% of parents confessing they think their children have been victims. And alarmingly, the survey discovered that more than a third of kids who admitted to being cyberbullied also said they experienced feelings of depression.


10 Forms of Cyberbullying


1. Exclusion

Exclusion is the deliberate act of leaving you out.

Exclusion is the deliberate act of leaving someone out.

Exclusion can happen in a number of ways:

  • Your child might be excluded from friends’ parties or activities.

  • Your child’s friends are having online conversations and tagging other friends but not them.

  • Your child isn’t using social networking sites or doesn’t have a smartphone and is deliberately excluded from conversations by others because of this.


2. Harassment

Harassment is a sustained, constant and intentional form of bullying comprising abusive or threatening messages sent to your child or to a group.

This is a very dangerous form of cyberbullying. It can have serious implications for your child’s wellbeing. The messages are generally unkind or malicious, can impact their self-esteem and confidence, and can make them fearful. The constant messaging means that there is no respite from the cyberbully. The cyberbully makes extreme effort to cause fear and pain.


3. Outing

Outing is a deliberate act to embarrass or publicly humiliate your child or a group through the online posting of sensitive, private or embarrassing information without their consent.

Outing can happen in a variety of ways and the information revealed can be serious or trivial. Even reading out your child’s saved messages on their mobile phone can be considered a form of outing. Personal information should not be shared and if someone reveals private information deliberately be sure your child knows to report it as cyberbullying.


4. Cyberstalking

This form of cyberbullying can extend to the cyberbully making real threats to your child’s physical wellbeing and/or safety. Cyberstalking can also refer to the practice of adults using the Internet to contact and attempt to meet with young people for sexual purposes. It is a very dangerous form of cyberbullying and can have serious consequences if something isn’t done immediately to stop it.


5. Fraping

Fraping is when somebody logs into your social networking account and impersonates your child by posting inappropriate content in their name.


Fraping is a very serious offence, which many people believe to be funny and entertaining, but it’s not. Impersonating somebody online and ruining their reputation can have serious consequences. Remember Google never forgets so everything rude or otherwise posted online will never be fully gone, even if deleted.


6. Fake Profiles

Fake profiles can be created in order for a person to hide their real identity with the intention of cyberbullying your child.


The cyberbully might also use someone else’s email or mobile phone to cyberbully them. This would make it appear as if someone else has sent the threats. The cyberbully is afraid in case their identity is revealed, therefore they choose to use fake accounts. This usually means that the cyberbully is someone that your child knows very well, because if they didn’t know them, the perpetrator wouldn’t have to hide their identity.


7. Dissing

Dissing is the act of sending or posting cruel information about your child online, to damage their reputation or friendships with others.


It can also include posting material online such as photos, screenshots or videos. The cyberbully wants to put your child down, so draws attention to what they are saying about them to make other people think they’re not cool. The cyberbully is usually someone your child knows. This can make it really upsetting.


8. Trickery

Trickery is the act of gaining your child’s trust so that they reveal secrets or embarrassing information that the cyberbully then shares publicly online.

The cyberbully will ‘befriend’ your child and lead them into a false sense of security before breaking their trust and sending their private information to a third party.


9. Trolling

Tolling is the deliberate act of provoking a response through the use of insults or bad language on online forums and social networking sites.

The troll will personally attack your child and put them down. Their main aim is to make them angry enough to act in the same way. Trolls spend their time looking for vulnerable people to put down. Usually they are looking to make themselves feel good by making others feel bad.


10. Catfishing

Catfishing is when another person steals your child’s online identity, usually photos, and re-creates social networking profiles for deceptive purposes.


A catfish is someone who wants to hide who they are. They will look at your child’s social networking profile and take any information they want to create a fake persona. Sometimes they will only take your child’s photos and use fake names and information; at other times, they could take their name and personal information. It can be hard to understand why a catfish does this but it is important to know that they are potentially damaging your child’s online reputation.


                                                                    Anti Bullying Centre at DCU

A survey carried out by the Anti Bullying Centre at DCU, revealed that ‘while Irish parents perceive themselves to be vigilant in monitoring computer and internet usage, there is an over-reliance on their children giving them accurate accounts of their online activity – especially on social media, where only 18% of parents supervise activity. And while many children may show honesty in this area, there is also a well-established “digital deceit” pattern in pre-teen and teen dealings with their parents that can leave them vulnerable online, especially to cyberbullying.


While over half of parents do engage in social media such as Facebook, they have almost no interaction with Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, which are the platforms of choice for their teen and pre-teen children.


In regards to bullying specifically, 65% of respondents spoke often/always with their children about bullying on the internet, however 16.5% of parents had never or hardly ever spoke to their children about cyberbullying. While when quizzed about social networks, 65% of parents said they always/often spoke to their children about their friends on social networks, and 65% spoke often/always about their profiles in social networks. 24% of respondents did not speak or hardly ever spoke to their children about their profiles on social networks, while 20% did not speak to them or hardly ever spoke to them about their friends on social networks.’

Children who have experienced cyberbullying may

  • Feel anxious, depressed, lonely or insecure and feel like crying a lot.

  • Be unable to concentrate in class.

  • Feel angry and wonder why this is happening to you.

  • Regularly end up in physical fights or arguments while trying to defend yourself.

  • Feel afraid to go to school and nervous if you’re on your own.

  • Think the problem is relentless and wonder if it will ever stop.

  • Feel lonely, isolated and avoid group situations.

  • Spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to do or where to go to avoid being harassed.

  • Think your parents would be worried or upset if you told them.

  • Notice that your health is suffering such as changes in your appetite, difficulty sleeping or tension headaches.

  • Feel afraid to check text messages or emails or look at social networking sites like Facebook in case there’s another cruel message about you.

  • Start to think that maybe the insults and taunts are true and wonder if it’s your own fault.

  • Have mood swings with a range of feelings from loneliness to anger.

  • Wish you could talk to someone but you are not sure what you want to say.

  • No longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy and drop out of activity groups or clubs.

  • Feel trapped, helpless, withdrawn and like no one understands.

  • Notice that these feelings are causing you to be unhappy at home and you are feeling moody or short tempered with your parents/carers, brothers or sisters.

What to do if you are being cyberbullied

  • Tell a parent, friend, teacher

  • Do not reply to cyberbullying message

  • Keep a detailed log of the bullying

  • Block the sender immediately

  • Report the bullying incident

  • Save messages in more than one location

  • Change your privacy settings

  • Set up a new email address

  • Ask for help when setting up emails and other accounts

  • Choose clever passwords that are easy to remember

  • Be very careful of strangers online

  • Change your online status to ‘hidden’

  • Get a new number and keep it private

  • Log off, it’s like walking away

 

Gene Barry Psychotherapist

© Gene Barry