ABC research is spearheading the development of next-generation responses to bullying and related issues. The breadth of ABC’s research expertise is unique globally and the Centre’s structure supports collaborative innovation with external partners such as workplaces, schools, charities and other organisations. ABC has attracted considerable research funding from the Department of Education and Skills, the European Union, the Irish Research Council, Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Human Rights & Equalities Commission, the Fulbright Commission and the Ireland Canada University Foundation.
Here are some of our current research projects:
FUSE Primary Programme
FUSE Primary programme is an Anti-Bullying and Online Safety programme for students in primary school aged 9 to 11 years of age. Commencing in September 2020, this programme will extend into primary schools and focus on raising students awareness of bullying and online safety to increase students confidence in identifying and reporting bullying incidents in their school. FUSE Primary aims to educate parents and teachers of primary school students on Bullying and Online safety.
Researchers: James O’Higgins Norman, Darran Heaney, Paloma Viejo Otero, Aikaterina Sargioti
Funder: Social Innovation Fund Ireland
Sexting and Peer Popularity among Irish Adolescents
This project is a scoping study that investigates the extent of peer popularity influence and sexting behaviours (i.e. sending/ receiving “sexts”). The aims are to examine: 1) the rates of sexting, 2) differences across Genders, and 3) investigate the influencing role of popularity in sexting behaviour.
Researchers: Dr. Mairéad Foody, Dr. Angela Mazzone, Dr. Magnus Loftsson, Derek Laffan MSc., Prof. James O’Higgins Norman.
Gifted Bullying: An investigation into the prevalence and impact of bullying and cyberbullying among Gifted adolescents in Irish schools.
This project is being undertaken by ABC’s Derek Laffan MSc., Dr. Mairéad Foody and Dr. Robert Slonje in collaboration with the Centre for Talented Youth Ireland. Currently there is scarce research to understand the impact of bullying and cyberbullying among adolescents who have considerably high academic ability for their age.
The classroom can be a challenging place for many Gifted children if they are not being stimulated by their coursework. As a result of lack of stimulation and challenge, Gifted children can be at risk of problematic psychosocial issues affecting their wellbeing. Initial research has suggested that bullying is a major concern for the parents of Gifted children in schools.
The prospective study aims to investigate this topic more comprehensively using measures universally deployed in bullying and cyberbullying related research. It is hoped that this project is completed by early 2020 so as to be used to inform antibullying policies in Irish schools.
Researchers: Derek Laffan MSc., Dr. Mairéad Foody, Dr. Robert Slonje, Dr. Catriona Ledwith (CTYI) and Dr. Colm O’Reilly (CTYI).
FUSE: An Anti-Bullying and Online Safety Programme
FUSE is an anti-bullying and online safety programme grounded in Irish and international best practice research. It consists of a range of workshops aimed at junior cycle students, their parents and school staff in post-primary schools across Ireland. Fuse is also a research and evaluation programme, allowing schools to monitor their own school and identify areas of improvement and self-evaluation. The curriculum focuses on empowering students to develop initiatives in their schools which tackle bullying and raise awareness of online safety.
Over the course of one academic year, FUSE aims to;
– To reduce levels of bullying in schools
– Increase reporting of bullying incidents
– Raise student, school staff and parent awareness of online safety
– Increase inclusiveness within the school climate, enabling school staff, students and parents, to tackle bullying and online safety
You can access the FUSE project website here.
Researchers: Prof. James O’ Higgins Norman, Darran Heaney, Aikaterini Sargioti and Paloma Viejo Otero.
Funded by: Facebook
Amount: €1 Million
TRIBES: Transnational Collaboration on Bullying, Migration and Integration in Second-level Schools
With immigration a growing, permanent and fractious part of the EU’s reality, integration is of foremost concern for policy-makers in Europe, and schools are recognised as an essential part of social stability and a key aspect of integration policy both at national and EU level. Schools provide crucial education for integration and citizenship, long term directly affecting social status, professional achievement, economic earning power and students understanding of cultural morality and societal principles, allowing both the individual to prosper, and the state and EU to benefit and build on their potential as a valuable new resource.
School safety, building inclusion and preventing bullying for all students is central to integration and their well-being. Yet in the face of a far more diverse society schools face challenges that they are largely not currently supported for. The scientific measures of school safety used today are outdated and do not reflect a modern, multi-cultural, multi-faith, Europe, while school communities are working in a fragmented, individualised manner in the areas of inclusion and bullying prevention.
This proposed COST Action aims to: enhance collaboration between stakeholders to update, enhance and pilot new ‘real world’ scientific measures and approaches, collate evaluated interventions and approaches around inclusion and bullying prevention to disseminate a comprehensive program/handbook for schools and a guideline policy document for authorities, building capacity, and working holistically towards ensuring the integration, safety and well-being of all students in EU secondary schools, to aid in the social stability of both the individual and society.
Researchers: Prof. James O’ Higgins Norman, Dr. Angela Mazzone an Dr. Amalee Meehan.
Funded by: European COST Agency
BReAThE: Bullying Experiences Among Roma Children in Ireland.
Roma people are among the most disadvantaged societies in the EU. They have been experiencing poverty, racism, discrimination, harassment, and bullying at all levels. Experiencing these barriers can act as serious deterrents to Roma parents sending their children to school. A prevention program (facilitating the inclusion of Roma children in schools) to combat these barriers is key to unlock this vicious cycle. However, this is hampered by the continued absence of data on Roma, especially in regards to bullying. Without proper scientific research on the experiences of Roma children and school attitudes towards them no effective inclusion strategies can be developed.
Primary objectives of this project are: (1) to identify the prevalence and impact of bullying amongst Roma children, (2) to determine whether or not gender differences influence bullying, (3) to describe experiences of and attitudes towards Roma children among school and educational staff, and (4) to assess inclusiveness methods that schools employ.
Following these objectives, this project aims: (1) to create a cross-national policy advisory document and outline for a training module for Roma inclusiveness in schools to be implemented beyond the life of the project; (2) to enhance the cross-community capacity, advancing collaboration between stakeholders (e.g. Roma, NGOs, school communities, academia); (3) to facilitate the inclusiveness of Roma children in schools; and (4) to promote integration, reducing bullying, and enhancing the well-being of Roma students.
Researchers: Dr. Mairéad Foody Dr. Seffetullah Kuldas and Lian McGuire MSc. MA.
MUSICANTIA – Culture and Educational Roma Centre
NASC – Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre
KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
Funded by: European Commission under Rights, Equality, and Citizenship Programme
Funding Amount: €224,815.50
Religious Identity and Bullying
Irish society’s religious adherence and practice is becoming increasingly diverse, particularly among young people. Yet the majority of Irish Post Primary schools have a Catholic ethos and Religious Education (RE) has both faith formation and theoretical elements. Research conducted in Irish schools found teachers struggled to address the needs of non-Catholic students, resulting in negative stereotyping, othering, discrimination and bullying of some students by teachers and peers (Stapleton, 2018; Carr, 2016; Parker-Jenkins, 2015). However, research also found students wish to learn about religion together and minority belief students valued and enjoyed many aspects of RE (Stapleton, 2018; Faas, 2016). This research seeks through questionnaires and interviews with RE teachers, to build on research which gave voice to minority belief students. The voices of students and teachers will be used to develop guidelines for inclusive RE.
Researchers: Prof. James O’ Higgins Norman and Dr. Kate Stapleton
External Partners: Humanist Association of Ireland
Funded by: Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)
GEM – Gender Equality Matters, Tackling Gender-based Violence
Parents, teachers and school heads are the target groups of this project since together they will have potential to change attitudes, values and behaviours across school systems. Social support is key to mitigating the negative effects of violence especially when there is also a possibility of reverse causation where individuals with low levels of social support may be more likely to be victimised with their isolation and lack of any form of social support drawing bullies to them. The project aims to adopt a systems theory approach to challenge, empower and change attitudes and behaviours of children, parents and educators using participatory, experiential and transformative methods where gender based bullying and violence is concerned.
External Partners: Italy (FMD); Spain (University of Murcia); Greece (KMOP) and Netherlands (ESHA)
Funded by: EU Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme.
SEXED: Investigating online SEXual harassment and Exploitation in relation to the UN Sustainable Developmental goals.
This project is particularly concerned with the prevalence and impact of online sexual harassment and exploitation of teenagers. The overall aim of the project is to conduct a large-scale cross-sectional investigation of online sexual harassment and sextortion behaviours in adolescents in Sweden and Ireland, with particular attention to gender and psychological outcome. While the research published by FICAB in Sweden provides the grounding for a more extensive study on online sexual harassment, further research is needed to determine the role of peer pressure, friendships and social networks in prevalence rates. Research on sextortion is even less evident. There is no empirical evidence regarding its prevalence, or the impact it is having on the mental health and social networks of those involved. In addition, in conducting this research, we plan to raise awareness of online sexual harassment and sextortion as increasingly prominent child protection issues which currently have no relevant procedure set at the EU to counteract it. Thus, the objective of this project is to use its research findings to inform the broader area of policy development as well as anti-bullying/harassment interventions at local levels.
External Partners: Friends International Centre Against Bullying (Sweden); UN International Telecommunications Network (Switzerland).
Funded by: Irish Research Council Collaborative Research Fellowship for a Responsive and Innovative Europe ‘CAROLINE’ – co-funded by Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.
DisAbuse: Experience to Change, Providing the Right Support Services to Tackle Disablist Bullying
This project aims to expand and utilize existing knowledge and experience of all participating partners in order to learn from one another and innovate a more interactive, relevant, and experiential based set of training resources for use by both those with intellectual disabilities (ID) and special education needs (SEN) and those that may be training to work with them as teachers/educators or those who already are. The training course that will be developed will be directly applied to the target groups via the higher education partner organsiations. The aiming is to enhance not only the knowledge and skills of educators and student educators to help them better understand the difficulties of those with ID/SEN and aid in the prevention and intervention of their being bullied but also increase the knowledge and skills of those most likely to be targeted by disabilist bullying, fostering their increased socialization to a world in which they are often the most marginalised, by encouraging their direct input to the project and having both target groups train and learn together.
External Partners: ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon (Portugal), University of Murcia (Spain), Fondazione Mondo Digitale (Italy) and Institute of Art, Design and Technology (Ireland).
Funded by: Higher Education Authority and EU Erasmus+ Fund.
ARIES: An Appreciative Inquiry into the Role of Empathy in Preventing Bullying in Schools.
This project reports on a case study investigating teacher empathy levels, and school climate, and how role modelling prosocial values and an ethos of respect and equality in the classroom sets norms for a positive school climate and a decrease in anti-social behaviour and school bullying. This project looks at how empathic are teachers in a case-study school. We then investigate the level of peer bullying in the school, and the final question examines to what extent empathy prepares teachers for tackling bullying and also cultivating children’s educational and holistic development. In answering these questions, quantitative data is gathered using two tools. The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) (Davis 1983), to gather data on empathy levels among teachers. The Olweus Bullying Questionnaire was administered to pupils to examine the level of peer bullying. Qualitative data in the form of teacher interviews is examined to establish the school ethos and culture, with findings related to existing research in the field.
External Partners: Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN).
Funded by: Department of Education & Skills National Action Plan on Bullying.
E-Care: Promoting Empathy in the Workplace
The problem of workplace bullying is well documented in international literature. In Ireland it is estimated that up to 35% of employees have experienced or witnessed workplace bullying. Furthermore, between 2013 to 2015 bullying was a sole or joint feature of 96 % of cases taken to the Workplace Relations Commission during. Employers who failed to have effective policies and procedures in place are more likely to have penalties awarded against them. This project establishes an academic partnership between the National Anti‐Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) and the Health Services Executive (HSE) to undertake a number of research, resource and training initiatives with the HR Department of the Health Services Executive (HSE) to enhance their work on promoting dignity in the workplace for all staff with a specific emphasis on promoting self‐awareness and reducing bullying behaviour. In addition to providing training and resources the project involves an ongoing survey of HSE staff on their levels and types of empathy which can be related to how they will interact with others in the workplace. It is hoped that the impact of this survey and the overall project will contribute to an atmosphere of respect and dignity among HSE employers.
Researchers: Dr. Angela Mazzone and Dr. James O’Higgins Norman
External Partners: Health Services Executive (HSE) and ADAPT: Global Centre of Excellence for Digital Content.
Funded by: Health Services Executive (HSE).
An Empiricial Investigation of Cyberbullying in Irish Youths
Cyberbullying has emerged as a high profile concern for health practitioners, policy makers, schools, teachers, parents, and communities across the world. In general, it involves using electronic forms (e.g., social networking sites and texting) repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him/herself. This form of bullying is believed to have devastating impacts on mental health. Despite the serious consequences of such incidences, research into this phenomenon is relatively limited in an Irish context. In addition, the factors that make some students resilient to these stresses (e.g. caring friendships) have never been studied in Irish schools. This is particularly surprising given their importance for informing intervention programs in educational and community settings. Therefore the aim of this research is to fill the gap in current literature by conducting a systematic large-scale analysis of cyberbullying from a psychological perspective. Specifically, we will investigate the prevalence rates,psychological impacts, risk and resiliency factors of cyberbullying and investigate its’relationship to traditional bullying. The proposed project will have a direct impact on public understanding and we plan for our findings to be used in a way that will increase the effectiveness of public policy as well as to enhance the social and emotional health of young Irish people.
Funded by: Irish Research Council.