Dan Neville, president of the Irish Suicidology Association said Noel Malone, head of Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co Limerick, has, by his action, added significantly and positively to the debate on cyberbullying involving young people.

Mr Malone suspended the students after they admitted ‘liking’ a Facebook post which made explicit references to a number of people in the school community.

He said: “There were a number of victims, and one very particular case of bullying… There was no malice on behalf of the students. Unfortunately these 28 made a wrong decision.”

Mr Neville, a TD for the area, said: “It was a very courageous decision taken by Noel Malone and he made it quite clear that the sanction won’t affect the students in any way in their future in the school or afterwards. Once it is over, it’s over. And they can now move on. I agree with his action on the basis we must educate everybody about the new phenomenon of social media.”

Mr Neville said bullying can lead to many personal crises. “In extreme cases where there are vulnerable people and other issues involved in that person’s life, it can contribute to suicide. This is a very serious issue because we know there are a vast amount of children who are bullied at some stage. People have various levels of vulnerability when trying to cope.”

Mr Neville said he was surprised and disappointed at Facebook’s refusal to remove the link when asked to do so by Mr Malone.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Malone defended his decision to suspend the students.

“This is not about punishment but education and I wanted to get across how serious this was,” he said.

“I was taken aback at how positive the parents were. They were horrified, and a number of them insisted on coming in and wanted to see the victim. I did not encourage that but I know that the message got back.”

Mr Malone said he had phoned the office of Education Minister Pat Rabbitte on the issue but had not received a response.

“The department should have a dedicated line or person to deal with issues like this,” he told RTÉ radio.

“This was a perfect example of cyberbullying and tragic situations have arisen. What if there had been a tragedy? We need to wake up and educate our young people and ourselves of the dangers of cyberbullying.”

Author: Francis O' Toole

Francis O' Toole is a Educational Psychotherapist & Guidance Counsellor. I set up this blog page to help students gain as much information as possible to be able to make right choices and decisions regarding their career options. I believe that we will be very successful in our careers if we follow what we enjoy.

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