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Education officials asked to analyse links between 24/7 online bullying and mental health crisis

MLA asks for paper to be brought back as he says bullying is no longer confined to school hours but is 24/7 via online platforms

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Department of Education officials have been asked to bring forward an analysis of the links between online bullying of young people and the crises in mental health.

It comes after the issue was raised by Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty at a sitting on Stormont’s Education Committee this week.

The SDLP representative said mental health was every bit as important as physical health and this was no more so than for young people.

He said: “We are all too aware of the way we interact, communicate and socialise as a society now and much of that is done via online platforms.

“Whilst there have been many advances there are also worrying trends as well. We have seen the continuous rise in suicide and self-harming in young people and I cannot help but wonder if there is a correlation between online bullying and mental health issues.

“Recently it was put to me by a parent, that it used to be if someone was getting a hard time or being bullied in school that stopped when the young person left the school each afternoon.

“However, that is no longer the case, as sadly bullying can continue via online and social media platforms and it can be 24/7.

“We must do more to help and support our young people, both in physical and mental health and wellbeing.”

Mr McNulty said to do that there must be a better understanding of how all these issues are linked.

And to achieve that he added: “I have asked that officials bring back a paper in relation to this issue.

“The old saying, your school days are the best days of your life are fine and well if you are not the target of online bullying.

“If a young person is being bullied and it continues 24/7 then those school days can be a struggle and young people must be protected and must be supported though those struggles.”

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