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:

GeGame: Creating an educational game for 14-16 year-olds to tackle sexism and gender-based harassment

The GEGAME project is aimed at students (14 -16 years) in second-level education, and is designed for teachers who deliver subjects relating to issues of personal development, digital safety, gender equality and relationships and sexuality education.

The GEGAME project will provide teachers with a set of interactive multimedia tools to educate their students about gender relations, to tackle stereotypes and prejudice, and to foster gender equality and inclusivity. In addition to improving equality within schools, the impact of the project will extend far beyond the educational context to society generally: because it tackles the root causes of gender violence, inequality and gender-based bullying, GEGAME will have long-lasting societal effects by transforming the attitudes and prejudices that give rise to these behaviours and power imbalances.

The main objective of this project is the creation of two educational tools, namely a Videogame and a Multimedia Handbook, which are designed to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusivity in society, thus improving quality of life for everyone.
The project will also give rise to a website, where the project tools will be located, along with a wide range of teaching aids and up-to-date information related to gender equality.

The main deliverables of the project will be:

1) A Multimedia Handbook about gender equality, outlining best practice in equality education and setting out key recommendations for the future.

2) A videogame about gender equality, designed primarily for use in second-level / high schools. The game is based on a role-play, and addresses a wide range of everyday situations faced by young people in their online and offline lives. It is designed to tackle limiting gender stereotypes and myths, to create awareness about inequality, to educate about inclusivity and consent, and to empower all students to live full and equal lives.

Names of lead and other researchers – Debbie Ging and Derek Laffan

Project Website:

External partners – administrative, technical and academic partners from Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Spain and Portugal

Funders – KA201 Strategic Partnership for School education, Erasmus +

Amount – €33,528


Workplace Bullying in Higher Education

Workplace bullying refers to the repeated and systematic exposure to negative treatment and behaviours in the workplace, which is primarily of a psychological nature. This negative treatment can be sustained either in-person or online through electronic means of communication (e.g. emails, social media, conference Apps etc.).

Bullying in the workplace constitutes a serious impairment to creating a positive climate within higher education institutions, while potentially threatening the quality of education.
However, little is known in relation to the workplace bullying experiences of staff members in Irish higher-level institutions.

Due to the serious implications of bullying to the individual’s health, expanding this research field is essential.

This large-scale national survey study aims to gain a deeper understanding into the workplace experiences (including bullying and cyberbullying) of Higher Education staff in
Ireland, including the current prevalence, nature, and effects of these issues. This will provide an evidence base to inform best practice and policy in the area.

Researchers: Dr Angela Mazzone, Éamon Jones, Prof Yseult Freeney, Prof James O’Higgins Norman

Funded by: The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Amount: €20,219.57

Irish Observatory on Cyberbullying, Cyberhate, and Online Harassment

Cyberbullying, cyberhate and online harassment have a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of those who are targeted (both young people and adults). The
introduction of the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020 provides a legislative basis to protect those who might be targeted by cyberbullying, hate
and harassment online. However, legislation alone will not remove the underlying causes of these negative actions. Researching cyberbullying, cyberhate and online harassment
contributes to develop evidence-based intervention programmes, which are key to tackle these phenomena at an individual and societal level.

A research observatory on cyberbullying has been established at the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre in Dublin City University. The observatory focuses on
researching the prevalence, contours, functions, and impacts of cyberbullying, cyberhate, and online harassment. It also aims to explore the impact of laws and regulations on those
who engage in or are targeted by cyberbullying, cyberhate, and online harassment.

The Observatory will undertake the following tasks:

-Produce an annual “year in review” report on the overall issue of cyberbullying, cyberhate, and online harassment.
-Quantitative and Qualitative empirical research on the impact of cyberbullying, cyberhate, and online harassment.
-Host workshops on cyberbullying, cyberhate, and online harassment with international and national contributors.
-Develop an online research repository that can be available as a resource to anyone (researchers and wider public) concerned about cyberbullying, hate, and online

Researchers: Dr. Angela Mazzone, Dr. Maja Brandt Andreasen, Dr. Mairéad Foody, Dr.Tijana Milosevic, Prof. James O’Higgins Norman

Funded by: Department of Justice

Amount: €181,881


OSAIBI (Open Standards for AI-based Bullying Interventions)

Bullying and harassment on social media platforms are difficult to define and operationalise and there is little agreement within the academic community regarding these phenomena. It is particularly challenging for social media platforms to design effective reactive let alone proactive moderation of such behaviours. Proactive moderation, which involves the application of various content analysis tools, can prove very difficult where it involves the automatic detection of bullying and harassment. These behaviours are not always overt and are often ambiguous, containing irony or sarcasm. Effective automatic detection of bullying and harassment requires processing not only subtle and often ambiguous linguistic context, but perhaps most importantly, external pragmatics including cultural context. While there is a significant amount of research on algorithm optimisation both from inside and outside of the industry, it is not yet a common practice to solicit and incorporate children’s feedback as to the functioning of these models. Ensuring children’s feedback and opinions on matters than concern them is a provision of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and this principle directly applies to co-design and co-creation of technologies that have implications for children’s wellbeing. Building on applicant’s existing project with Facebook, OSAIBI will:

1. Map social media companies’ proactive responses to bullying that rely on natural language processing (NLP), machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

2. Leverage qualitative research with children to examine how effective these proactive tools are from the perspective of children who have experienced bullying.

3. Develop a typology as precursor to ontology based automatic classification of bullying cases that take place on popular social media platforms and that can be particularly difficult to detect by proactive tools.

4. Leverage quantitative study with children to examine how they perceive their rights to privacy and freedom of expression in the context of proactive monitoring. OSAIBI will therefore facilitate transparent social media design that supports children’s wellbeing and embed children’s voices into this design in order to ensure that the proposed solutions are effective from children’s perspective.

Researchers: Dr. Tijana Milosevic, Dr. Brian Davis and Prof. James O’Higgins Norman

Funded by: ADAPT SFI’s Elite-S fellowship (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement); and Facebook

Amount: €116,640

Twitter: Dr. Tijana Milosevic

Co-designing with Children: A Rights-based Approach to Fighting Bullying

The aim of this study is to co-design with children a tool for proactive moderation of cyberbullying on social media platforms. Proactive moderation of cyberbullying on social media platforms broadly refers to the use of various types of Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence-based tools to identify cyberbullying and other types of abuse such as harassment before these are reported by users on social media platforms. 

The study proposed to port an existing machine learning tool for detecting offensive/abusive content to Facebook and Instagram platforms and to obtain children’s feedback into its effectiveness as well as recommendations as to how it can be improved. The result will be a rights driven co- design project between the researchers and vulnerable end users. This work builds on the Principal Investigator’s previous research on the effectiveness of social media companies’ anti-bullying policies and enforcement mechanisms and in turn leverages research collaboration with machine learning, Natural Language Processing and software engineering expertise in the ADAPT Centre at DCU.

Researchers: Dr. Tijana Milosevic and Dr. Brian Davis 

Funded by: Facebook’s Content Policy Award: Phase 2

Amount: $99,403

Kids’ Digital Lives in Covid Times (KiDiCoTi): A Comparative Mixed-Methods Study on Digital Practices, Safety and Wellbeing

The exceptional situation we are experiencing due to the corona virus crisis has greatly disrupted our daily lives and the ones of our children. The National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) at Dublin City University works along the European Commission to conduct a study across Europe. The goal of this study is to collect information on how children and youths engage with (online) technology and to identify potential benefits and risks associated with their (online) interactions with digital technology in and post CoVID-19 times.

Researchers: Dr. Tijana Milosevic, Prof. James O’Higgins Norman and Derek Laffan MSc.

Funder & Amount: Funded by the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, Institute of Education, Dublin City University. The research is coordinated in more than 10 European countries by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

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, Colm Canning

Project Website:

Funder: Social Innovation Fund Ireland

Amount: €500,000

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

Amount: €576,000

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).

Gifted Project Privacy Statement 

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, Colm Canning.

Funded by: Facebook

Amount: €1 Million

Religious Identity and Bullying

Significant societal changes in Ireland, including a decline in religious practice, have influenced Religious Education in post-primary schools.  The once-dominant tradition of denominational and confessional Religious Education has given way to an approach designed to be inclusive of students of all faiths and none.  A mixed patronage system is gradually replacing what was a largely denominational second level education arrangement, with Catholic providers now a minority.

This study investigates the perspectives of Religious Education teachers in post-primary schools in Ireland around issues of inclusion; a specific focus is to give voice to Religious Education teachers across sectors in order to understand how this flux is experienced.  Their experiences and voices are then used to develop implications for inclusive Religious Education in line with the Anti-bullying Procedures of 2013, which identify a space within the teaching of all subjects to foster an attitude of respect for all.

To date, research results indicate that teachers are concerned about all ‘religious students’.  This echoes the growing field of research which suggests that in a rapidly secularising society, those who continue to practice any faith, especially the once-majority faith, are vulnerable to bullying.

Researchers: Dr Amalee Meehan and Derek Laffan MSc

Amount: €29,436

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.

Researchers: Dr. Mairéad Foody and Dr. James O’Higgins Norman

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.

Amount: €234,694.20.

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.

Researchers: Helena Murphy BSc and Dr. James O’Higgins Norman

External Partners: Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN).

Funded by: Department of Education & Skills National Action Plan on Bullying.

Amount: €99,968.00.

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).

Amount: €269,970

Data Privacy Statement

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.

Researchers: Dr. Mairéad Foody and Dr. James O’Higgins Norman

Funded by: Irish Research Council.

Amount: €85,000.00.