Bullying is and always has been the scourge of school life. It is one of the most talked about topics between parents and up until recently was confined to the school yard. Schools have always done their best to try and stop bullying behaviour but over time it is becoming more and more difficult.
In 2015, the Department of Education to their credit published new rules for tackling bullying in schools and gave good consistent steps to tackle the behaviour, especially in light of the struggles that schools have in identifying the behaviour.
For example, there is a now a good definition for bullying. There are now a series of steps in place to informally deal with allegations made.
However, one weird anomaly is that schools have been given responsibility for dealing with bullying behaviour both inside and outside of school. This is due to the fact that bullying now takes place outside of school via online behaviours.
While schools can do their best to deal with behaviours inside school, they are very limited to what they can do outside of school. Schools have no power to tell parents what to do with their kids outside of school; (they are limited in some cases inside of school, but that’s a different story.)
Effectively, this is an impossible rule for schools to enforce. Schools cannot get involved in bullying that happens outside of school. If the bullying happens in school, that’s a different story. If it’s happening in both places, it can be a partnership between home and school, but once bullying stops in the school, the school can’t take responsibility for it after that. Who should take responsibility is the obvious question, and I guess it probably has to fall on Túsla or the Gardaí. Schools, I’m sure, will help and cooperate, but taking responsibility is a step too far.