Students at Sperrin Integrated College in Magherafelt have staged a hard-hitting play on cyber bullying and suicide.
Drama teacher Elaine Kelly, who penned the play, said it focused on the life of a teenage girl who becomes the victim of bullies and feels like she can’t escape because the Internet is everywhere.
Ms Kelly said the play - called ‘Expectation for Perfection’ - contained harrowing scenes designed to make young people think carefully before they post something that could be hurtful.
“The aim of this play is to educate and inform our audience of teenagers and young people about how to deal with these issues, if ever faced with them,” she continued
She said in making a comment on Facebook or replying to one, children often don’t realise that they could be bullying another person.
The play was watched by Year 10 and 11 pupils and their parents, but the College may decide to perform it in front of a public audience at a later date.
Mid Ulster MLA Sandra Overend, who is the Ulster Unionist spokesperson for Children and Young People, said: “I was honoured to be invited to go along to Sperrin Integrated College as they tackled the hugely important issue of cyber bullying with fellow students through the unique methos of a drama production.
“The issue of keeping safe online is something that I have had a particular interest for some time now, and it was particularly encouraging to see students engaging with this issue in a mature and informative manner.
“As a mother of three children who all use the internet on a daily basis, I am hugely aware of the amount of time that our young people are spending online an using smart phones and tablets nowadays.
“It is my concern that government needs to do more to provide support and uniformity of message on this issue, not only through schools but through other government responsibilities.”
Mrs Overend, who sits on the Education Committee, continued, “The Government must face the reality that while the internet is a vital tool and a fantastic resource, it can also be dangerous for young people. It is vital that those young people and their families are equipped to deal with those dangers.
“The Sperrin Integrated College production engaged with these issues and dangers in a way which is accessible for everyone, highlighting the consequences of online bullying in a way which will tap into the mind-set of all those who see it – young and old.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them on their excellent production and their exceptional performances, and to wish them well in spreading their message.”