Tyrone primary principal raises lid on ‘highly inappropriate and destructive’ bullying on social media

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The principal of a local primary school has issued a warning letter to parents over “highly inappropriate” content written by pupils on social media sites.

Stephen Magennis, head at St Joseph’s Primary in Galbally, outside Dungannon, described the language as “nasty and hurtful”. He added that parents of P7 pupils recently raised their concerns over what some youngsters were writing on social media apps.

“Much of the language and content is highly inappropriate and hurtful,” he wrote in his letter.

He urged parents to be more “vigilant” and ensure their children were not engaged in any such behaviour.

“I would ask that you talk over with your child the serious implications of writing nasty and hurtful things about other children,” he warned.

“No parents wants their child to be the subject of abuse or ridicule.”

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Magennnis went on to say: “Children are using these apps to make comments about others’ shape, size and weight, as well as their looks and appearance,” he said.

“Others join in and it’s very destructive to a 10- and 11-year-old to see that.

“It’s very difficult to get in to their heads that when you write something down and send it, that there are implications. It’s hurtful and destructive to someone’s self-esteem and how they present themselves.

“Parents have to be aware of what their children are doing, saying and seeing.

“I don’t want any parent coming to me saying their child is being bullied online.

“A lot of this is happening outside schools, and what can we can do except alert parents and inform children?

“But parents need to take responsibility and check their children’s phones and iPads to see who they are communicating with, to ensure they are protecting them.”