Combating cyberbullying in our community

A MARTIAL arts instructor is leading the way with an innovative initiative to keep young people defend themselves against cyberbullying.

A MARTIAL arts instructor is leading the way with an innovative initiative to keep young people defend themselves against cyberbullying.

According to Kevin Shortall who runs Budo Martial Arts Centre cyberbullying amongst young people is a major concern for most parents in Ireland at present. “The humiliation, fear, frustration, social isolation and loss of self-esteem which children experience as a result of being a bullying victim is incomprehensible. The consequences of bullying result in absenteeism from School, poor grades, personality changes and illness to mention just a few,” he said.

“While most parents realise that bullying does exist in the Ireland of today it is not until it manifests itself on somebody we know or care about that it is challenged. A new form of bullying, Cyberbullying has emerged in recent years. This form of bullying is equally as devastating and has been the subject of much recent debate. Cyberbullying uses technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person,” he added.

The event is being run by the Budo Martial Arts Centre, Kilkenny. The Budo Martial Arts Centre teaches karate and self-defence skills to hundreds of children all over Kilkenny on a weekly basis. Chief Instructor of the martial arts centre, Kevin Shortall says ‘While all our students focus on fitness, karate and self-defence techniques we have of late introduced some specific training on how to deal with bullies. This type of training involves teaches the students when to recognise that they are being bullied and how to and when to take a stand against the aggressor. We like to refer to it as ‘Verbal Karate’.’

The specialist speaker on the day will be Garda Lisa Mullins of the Community Policing section of Kilkenny Gardai. Garda Mullins will speak to the kids on all areas mentioned above including cyberbullying. There will also be a short seminar on self-defence provided by the Budo Martial Arts Centre so all attendees should wear comfortable, loose clothing.

The event is open to kids from four years to 12 years old. There will be two separate sections. One for four year olds to seven year olds and another for eight years olds to 12 year olds. To book a place for your child please call 086 3668669. There will be a small fee of €2 to attend the event which can be paid on the day. All funds raised will go in aid of Our Ladys Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin

Meanwhile Labour Deputy Ann Phelan has welcomed the new action plan on bullying launched by the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn and the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald. This action plan has been produced by the Anti-Bullying Working group which was established last year and will target 12 areas which will help prevent, and tackle, bullying in the country’s primary and secondary schools. There are proposals to establish a new anti-bullying website, support a new media campaign focussed on Cyberbullying, which will be discussed at the Oireachtas Committee for Transport and Communications, of which Deputy Phelan is a member.