The principal of a Co. Limerick secondary school has called on the government to establish a national helpline to deal with school queries on cyber-bullying. Sean O Brien of The Daily Shift has more…
Noel Malone, principal of Colaiste Chiarain in Croom, Co. Limerick, today urged for government support of schools with regards online behaviour after he suspended 28 students for ‘liking’ a post on Facebook.
Students were suspended for two days last week while others who were on work experience started a two day suspension yesterday for liking the controversial Facebook post relating to a number of people in the school community.
Mr. Malone today said his decision to suspend the students was a matter of education and not retribution.
“We embrace technology 100% in this school. It just goes to show that it’s about kids not thinking about the buttons that they press, for their own sakes as well,” he said when speaking on National Radio earlier this afternoon.
It is understood the post consisted of an image accompanied by some text relating to the personal life of a school teacher which was deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the school. All 28 of the students had ‘liked’ the post which was private to an unofficial School Facebook page.
Mr Malone who defended his ‘unprecedented’ decision to suspend the students.
“Potentially for all those 28 ‘likes’ there could have been, in the context of the school, thousands of other people who would now be aware. In other words it is a very strong form of bullying.”
However, Ian Power of student support site SpunOut.ie has condemned Mr. Malone’s decision to suspend the students saying that it will not teach them a lesson.
“I don’t think suspending students is the best way to deal with cyber-bullying, especially suspending large groups at once and I don’t think it will teach students anything to do with the openness of the internet other than try not to get caught next time,” he said.
Mr Power believes that changing the behaviour of students should take precedence over punishing those involved.
“I hope the school will sit down with the students and the member of staff involved and communicate to them why what they did was hurtful or wrong and ask them for suggestions as to how to make things right and what should be done in the future.”
Mr. Power also claimed that cyber-bullying receives too much attention while face to face bullying remains a more prevalent issue in Irish schools.
*lead image via scoilnet.ie