Ireland’s Religious Education Teachers Concerned by Bullying of Practicing Catholic Students

Sociology professor James O’Higgins Norman noted in an opening statement that much bullying behavior was driven by issues of identity.

Ireland’s post-primary students are aged from 11 to 16 years old.
Ireland’s post-primary students are aged from 11 to 16 years old. (photo: Unsplash. / Unsplash)

DUBLIN, Ireland — Teachers of Religious Education in Ireland have expressed concern that bullies are targeting practicing Catholic students. 

Their concerns emerged June 15 in a meeting of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science. 

Sociology professor James O’Higgins Norman noted in an opening statement that much bullying behavior was driven by issues of identity.

“In terms of identity, a recent study at our Centre found that teachers of Religious Education have specific concerns about students who are practicing Catholics being targeted for bullying more than those who do not practice a religion,” said O’Higgins Norman, who holds the UNESCO Chair on Tackling Bullying in Schools and Cyberspace at Dublin City University (DCU).

He was referring to a research report produced by DCU’s Anti-Bullying Centre. The study is entitled “Inclusive Religious Education: The Voices of Religious Education Teachers in Post Primary Schools in Ireland: Identity, bullying, and inclusion.” 

Ireland’s post-primary students are aged from 11 to 16 years old.

A DCU spokesperson told CNA that the report, written by Amalee Meehan and Derek Laffan, was currently awaiting publication and was likely to be available at the end of summer.

In his address to the Oireachtas joint committee, O’Higgins Norman recommended “awareness raising of the vulnerability of students based on identity, for example practicing Catholics, LGBTQ+, Ethnicity, etc.”

A 2016 census found that 78.3% of Ireland’s population identified as Catholic, the lowest level recorded. The highest level recorded was in 1961, when 94.9% of people described themselves as Catholic.

Dr. John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, discusses religious freedom at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 16, 2013.

Catholic University’s John Garvey (Sept. 25)

Catholic University of America’s president has announced he is stepping down at the end of the school year. John Garvey’s time at the university has widely been recognized as a period of strengthening Catholic identity and shoring up the academic offerings in the Catholic intellectual and cultural tradition. His work has paid off: student retention has increased and fundraising goals have been topped at record levels. President John Garvey joins us today to tell his story about not only about building up a university but about falling in love with Catholic U.