News from Europe

Catholic students are most affected by bullying in Ireland

A recent study by the "National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre" of the University of Dublin proves that Christian students are particularly affected by intolerance and discrimination in secondary schools. The report is based on 214 interviews with religious education teachers from each of Ireland's secondary schools. Half of the surveyed schools recognised bullying because of a students faith as a problem.


Teachers expressed their concern about negative stereotyping and exclusion of students with strong beliefs or unpopular opinions. According to the responses in the study, Christians and particularly Catholics have been targeted the most. One teacher noted: “It is now socially accepted in Ireland that Catholics are insulted or belittled.”

The report exposes the fact that a significant number of teachers were concerned about religious-based bullying. Some anonymously quoted comments were: “There can be hostility from non-religious students towards students who express faith at times” and “Strong beliefs by students can be ridiculed.” 

Teachers identified Christians as the most vulnerable group. Some of them commented that students expressing religious based convictions could experience a low level bullying even by staff members. One teacher noted, “I suspect Christians get the greatest flak today. There is a general intolerance of the Christian worldview which needs [to be] addressed.”

One particular issue assessed by the study was the negative stereotyping, which affected mostly catholic students. The report states: “When it comes to negative stereotyping of students, teachers are most concerned about those who identify as Catholic (12%) and least concerned about negative stereotyping of those who identify as atheist (2%).” A cited commentary said: “A Catholic student is more likely to be ridiculed or laughed at for their faith position, so they tend to be silenced by the prevailing trend towards a secular humanist worldview.” 


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