Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is fast becoming a major problem among young people. One of the main differences between cyberbullying and other types of bullying is that when they are online, communication between young people is often hidden from adults, making cyberbullying difficult to detect and deal with. According to www.webwise.ie initial findings in last year’s EU Kids Online survey revealed that almost a quarter of children claim they have been bullied online.

What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is where people use the internet, mobile phones and other technologies to inflict psychological harm on their targets. It is “a repeated and sustained campaign of behaviour which has a serious negative impact on the well-being of the victim.” Cyberbullying can involve sending mean or threatening messages, posting photos or video clips, using social networking sites to verbally “attack” another, setting up fake profiles to say bad things about a person or accessing someone’s account repeatedly to make trouble for them. Ways in which bullies can access their targets are increasing all the time. The prevalence of technological “gadgets” among young people means that the threat of cyberbullying is ever present. However, cyberbullying is not a problem of technology but a problem of behaviour. An additional aspect is that, while in traditional bullying children have known who the bully is, with cyberbullying they often don’t.
“Anonymity empowers bullies to act aggressively”

What can parents do?
According to Webwise there are a number of tell tale signs which parents should watch out for. If a child is avoiding school or seems upset or angry when or after using their phone or PC it may be a sign of cyberbullying. Webwise also alerts parents to the fact that if a child rapidly switches screens when an adult comes into the room, there may be something they don’t want their parents to know! Dealing with the bullying will involve having a discussion with the child in a reassuring and positive environment and giving advice on how to deal with it. Webwise gives the following advice:
Start by commending your child for coming to speak to you about the problem. Then, give them the following advice:
Don’t Reply: Young people should never reply to messages that harass or annoy them. The bully wants to know they have upset their target. If they get a response it feeds into the problem and makes things worse
Keep the Messages: By keeping nasty messages your child will be able to produce a record of the bullying, the dates and the times. This will be useful for any subsequent school or garda investigation
Block the Sender: No one needs to put up with someone harassing them. Whether it’s mobile phones, social networking or chat rooms, children can block contacts through service providers
Report Problems: Ensure your child reports any instances of cyberbullying to websites or service providers. Sites like Facebook have reporting tools. By using these, your child will be passing important information to people who can help eradicate cyberbullying.
Often, children are afraid to report bullying because they fear it will escalate. As well as providing a safe atmosphere where children can feel safe and confident to reveal if they are being bullied, parents can take preventative measures to try and avoid bullying happening in the first place. It is recommended that children always use internet in a room frequented by others, not alone in a bedroom. Parents can monitor internet use and periodically check what sites children have visited. Mobile phone operators provide a “dual access” service, which allows parents have access to numbers called, account balances, etc. This service is supplied on request.

Good ‘netiquette’ should be encouraged from an early age, whereby children are encouraged to use correct language online, not to copy others’ work and to comply with copyright laws with regard to downloading music, movies, etc. If children grow up with a proper regard for how they behave online, they are less likely to become either bullies or victims of bullies. The aim of education in this regard is to empower children and young people to use the internet, as well as other online and mobile technologies, positively, safely and effectively.
There is a lot of material aimed at equipping parents to keep their children safe online.

www.webwise.ie
Webwise is the current NCTE internet safety initiative and is the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Node of Insafe, the European network of internet safety awareness nodes. It provides parents, teachers, and children with educational resources, advice and information about potential dangers on the Internet and empowers users to minimise or avoid these risks. Some of the topics discussed on Webwise are:

The impact of cyberbullying on young people

Ask.fm – A guide for parents and teachers

Parents’ Guides and articles on issues such as learning how to set parental controls and limiting which websites your child can view.

Another useful site is www.watchyourspace.ie

Garda Talk

We invited our community Garda, Niall, gave a talk to 6th class regarding safety on the internet/safe use of mobile phones, etc. The talk was very informative, and indeed salutary, for the pupils as Niall gave them some strong advice on how to behave when using technology. He also discussed what they should do if they receive unwanted or undesirable messages, and his main advice, which he reiterated a number of times, was:
Don’t reply/Keep the message/Block the sender/Tell someone you trust.
Another aspect of Niall’s talk was to make the pupils aware of the consequences of unacceptable, or indeed illegal, behaviour online. He spoke of the “digital footprint” that we each leave behind online, and told them that all online activity can be traced back to the user if necessary. Niall urged caution about posting pictures of friends online, warning that images can be manipulated. He urged the pupils to always have someone’s permission before they posted a picture online.
Niall’s advice to the students regarding smartphones was to ensure that they have a screen lock to prevent anyone else accessing their phone, and to be sure to logout of their accounts when they leave them, important advice not just for now, but for the future also.
In general, Niall’s advice to the pupils was to Be Aware and Take Care when using technology.

Niall’s advice to parents is that all mobile phones should be switched off and left with parents at 9pm every night.

Fighting Words

Fighting Words

On Monday, November 18th, a class of budding writers set off to visit the ‘Fighting Words’ Centre. Third class had no idea what to expect but each one of them came back excited and definitely inspired by the experience.

I’m told the first one they heard (but never saw!) in the centre was Mr. Mc Conkey, the editor, who told them they wouldn’t be able to write a story. Naturally, they had to prove that wrong! With the help of some volunteer tutors, the pupils set about creating their own story. If Mr. Mc Conkey was worried that they would not have enough ideas for a story he was badly mistaken. The creative pupils of third class had so many ideas for storylines and characters that they had to vote for their choices in the end! Each child had a part in creating the story and as it came together they saw it being typed up on a big screen as they composed. When the first part of the story was completed each child got a printed, personalised copy of the story, with their picture and an “about the author” page, to take home.

They are now back in school putting their own, individual ending to their stories.

All of the children were delighted with the visit, some of the highlights being the magic door, the editor’s office and, of course, proving Mr. Mc Conkey wrong! Many of the children were really impressed at seeing how the illustrator worked along with them to illustrate their story. Several of the children felt they couldn’t pick out a highlight – “it was just all great!”

The childrens’ book is called “The Chronicles of the Kitchen” and it is available to view on www.fightingwords.ie.

All the finished stories will be available in their classroom soon.
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A short history of RETNS student council

Some of our parents have expressed an interest in knowing more about the history of the Student Council in RETNS. Our records date back to 2000 when the idea for a student council first came about. A lot of work was done at the time in drawing up the Rules and Constitution for the student council. At the time students looked at the constitution of other student councils and adapted these to their own school. There was a debate about the name, which in the end came down to a choice between Kidz Kouncil and South City Students Council, as the school was then called South City School Project. The Rules and Constitution were re-drafted in November 2003 and the student council was renamed Rathfarnham Educate Together Student Council.

At the time of the formation of the student council the pupils drafted a set of aims for the student council and then decided on the most appropriate of these. The final choice of aims for the student council was:
a) To learn about how democracy works.
b) To represent the children in the school and let them take part in the running of the school.
c) To give children a voice.
d) To sort out problems.
e) To come up with new ideas for new activities, clubs and also fund-raising.
Membership was inclusive in that all children in the school were deemed to be members of the student council. Each year a student council committee is elected from among the student body, to consist of 12 children and a co-ordinating teacher. In the original Rules and Constitution document the students set down the rules for election, the officers they would have on their student council, their responsibilities and term of office. They also drew up a section on ‘Changes to the Constitution’, outlining that change may only be made by referendum and must be carried by 75% of voters.
A lot of work went into the setting up of the student council by the students of 2000 and these rules and Constitution still govern the student council today.
The first meeting of elected members of the student council took place on Monday 10th April, 2000. Over the years members of RETNS student council have contacted their counterparts in other Educate Together schools, either by visit or letter, they have raised considerable amounts of money for worthy causes of their choice, they have sent letters to newspapers and to public figures, they have helped to bring about many of the changes that students require, they have taken on responsibilities and challenges which have helped them grow and mature, and , above all, they have succeeded in achieving their primary aim, which is, in the words of one student council member in a letter to Galway Educate Together Student Council, “to get all of the children’s voices and opinions heard”.

Anti-Bullying Ambassadors-update

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We had a ‘de-briefing’ session today (Wednesday) with our anti-bullying ambassadors after their very successful training day in Skerries. All of the pupils were full of enthusiasm and ideas after their day and are looking forward to their ‘next steps’ as ambassadors. Each of the pupils gave a synopsis of their day, which involved games, drama, drawing, brainstorming, group work and video, all with the aim of heightening their awareness of others, being aware of using positive words and positive behaviour, understanding feelings and the effects of bullying behaviour and helping them to look at the importance of being truthful. All of the pupils demonstrated an excellent understanding of the messages which were delivered at the training day and have some great ideas as to how to put their learning into action in our school. Some of the words used by the pupils to describe their day were:

Inspiring          different          interesting          informative          fun          great          exciting

Teachers who accompanied the pupils on the day were very complimentary about the behaviour and involvement of all the pupils. They said they were so proud of all the children and that they were real ambassadors for the school.

The anti-bullying ambassadors will meet again next week to prioritise their actions and make a start on carrying out their role as anti-bullying ambassadors in RETNS. They will be talking to the rest of the pupils over the coming days and weeks to outline their plans to help make RETNS a real Anti-Bullying School and to ensure that it is a happy place for all.

Anti-Bullying Ambassadors

Nine pupils from fifth and sixth classes in RETNS will be joining over 100 pupils and teachers at a very large Anti-Bullying event on Tuesday, 5th November in Skerries Educate Together National School.

This event is called the Diana Award Anti-Bullying Ambassador Training. The programme trains young people across Ireland and the UK to be Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in their schools.  The unique training will help young people to creatively explore and understand the issue of bullying, through interactive sessions.  They will network with other students, exchanging ideas and sharing good practice, and they will gain practical ideas and receive top tips on how to stop bullying. On their return to school they will share their learning and play an active role in preventing bullying in our school.

We want our school to be an anti-bullying zone, a place where all children feel safe and where we can all confidently say “no” to bullies. This is a unique opportunity for the students themselves to be involved in anti-bullying initiatives and to have a real opportunity to work with their fellow students to prevent bullying and ensure that everyone feels safe and happy in school. The pupils are looking forward to the event and will have a lot to offer our school after their day’s training.

 

Halloween Safety

Niall, from an Gardai, came into the  school on Thursday to talk to the senior classes about Halloween safety and he had some very clear messages for the children. He warned them about the dangers of fireworks and made it very clear that it is illegal as well as extremely dangerous for children to be anywhere near fireworks. He also told them to stand well clear of bonfires and to be sure that they are with someone responsible when out and about at Halloween. As well as Halloween safety messages, Niall also stressed other safety measures that children can take such as wearing a high visibility vest when crossing roads or walking in dim light, and he reiterated the “stranger danger” messages given to the children earlier in the term. We hope everyone has a great mid-term break and see you all back on November 4th.