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Anti-Bullying Centre

Research Projects

Current Research Projects

The potential of using scenarios/vignettes as an approach to the objective measurement of bullying experiences in the workplace

This is a joint research project with the centre for research, policy and practice in Education (CARPE) at DCU. Bulling assessment measures have generally focused on school bullying and interactions between peers. The most widely used assessment is the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (OBQ) which characterises peer bullying behaviour as involving at least one of the following: physical harassment, verbal abuse, relational or exclusion bullying and cyberbullying. This tool and others of its kind are advantageous to research but still pose certain issues in terms of providing absolute measures of bullying behaviour. One recent meta-analysis conducted by the Anti-Bullying Research Centre, DCU showed that a range of methodological issues influenced the rates of bullying in studies across Ireland, even if the same assessment scale was used. These included: the use or lack of a definition of bullying, the timeframe participants were referred to (i.e., ‘ever’ to ‘one month ago’) and even how answers were categorised (‘frequent’ to ‘occasional’). While the OBQ has been reliably validated in several large scale and international studies among school children, there is no equivalent for adult or workplace bullying. This project will undertake research on current approaches to the assessment of workplace bullying. We will build on this review to develop a Rasch measurement scale using scenarios/vignettes that can be trialled with a small sample of Irish adults. 

Staff involved: Dr James O’Higgins Norman and Dr Mairéad Foody National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC); Prof. Michael O’Leary CARPE

Learning in Liminal Spaces: The Impact of the Arts on the Development of Creativity in Post-Primary Education in Ireland

Irene White is a lecturer in Drama and English Education at the School of Human Development, Dublin City University. Irene is completing a PhD by publication centring on the theme of learning in liminal spaces. Focusing on the Freirean concepts of voice, dialogue, and empowerment, her research examines the participatory arts as a vehicle for transformative learning and highlights the importance of liminal spaces for marginalised communities. Drawing on the anthropological concept of liminality, the study investigates the role of socially engaged participatory arts organisations in providing such spaces in the community and considers how the practices of such organisations might translate into formal education settings. It is argued that the current emphasis on creativity in education policy if it is to translate into practice, would benefit significantly from insights into the ethos and practices of socially engaged participatory arts organisations currently operating in the non-formal education sector in Ireland. The research explores the personal, social, cultural, and educational benefits of promoting creativity through the participatory arts and identifies the narrative based methods of drama, storytelling and creative writing as effective tools in the democratisation of the arts and the promotion of equality in education. 

Staff involved: Irene White MA and Dr. James O'Higgins Norman

An Empiricial Investigation of Cyberbullying in Irish Youths

Cyberbullying has emerged as a high profile concern for health practitioners, policy makers, schools, teachers, parents, and communities across the world. In general, it involves using electronic forms (e.g., social networking sites and texting) repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him/herself. This form of bullying is believed to have devastating impacts on mental health. Despite the serious consequences of such incidences, research into this phenomenon is relatively limited in an Irish context. In addition, the factors that make some students resilient to these stresses (e.g. caring friendships) have never been studied in Irish schools. This is particularly surprising given their importance for informing intervention programs in educational and community settings. Therefore the aim of this research is to fill the gap in current literature by conducting a systematic large-scale analysis of cyberbullying from a psychological perspective. Specifically, we will investigate the prevalence rates,psychological impacts, risk and resiliency factors of cyberbullying and investigate its’relationship to traditional bullying. The proposed project will have a direct impact on public understanding and we plan for our findings to be used in a way that will increase the effectiveness of public policy as well as to enhance the social and emotional health of young Irish people.

Funded by: Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship | Staff Involved: Dr Mairéad Foody and Dr James O'Higgins Norman.

TESIS - Tool for Evaluating Sexual Inclusivity in Schools

The purpose of this project is to develop an evaluation tool for second-level schools in Ireland, which will be used to assess their performance on LGBTQ inclusivity and success in tackling homophobic bullying. Working together with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), the Anti-Bullying Centre will build a survey instrument that can measure the LGBTQ ‘climate’ of a school by gathering feedback from both students and teachers. The tool will be piloted in three second-level schools with a view to improving and refining it. It is envisaged that this tool will become the standard national LGBTQ evaluation tool for Irish post-primary schools.

Funded by: Irish Research Council | Funding Amount: €10,000 | Staff Involved: Dr. Debbie Ging

Online Misogyny and Bullying

The purpose of this project is to identify and theorise the complex relationships between online culture, technology and anti-feminist bullying and hate speech. It explores how sexist bullying online has been shaped by the technological affordances of the internet and social media, and whether they are borne of the same types of discontents articulated in older forms of anti-feminism or to what extent they might articulate a different constellation of social, cultural and gender-political factors. Online bullying and online misogyny have a very real impact on the lives, careers, visibility and safety of women. However, as Jane (2014) has pointed out in one of the few journal articles published specifically on this topic, ‘e-bile’ proliferates in the cybersphere and is the subject of extensive media coverage internationally, yet it receives little attention in scholarship. This project will facilitate more focused, transnational and theoretically coherent enquiry and debate, and will help to give this increasingly important area of enquiry the impetus, attention and theoretical cohesion it requires.

Funded by: ABC with support from Department of Education & Skills | Funding Amount: €2000 | Staff involved: Dr. Debbie Ging and Dr. Eugenia Sapiera

Hate Speech on Social Media: The role of social media corporations

The aim of this project is to find ways in which social media platforms regulate (or not) problematic forms of speech and expression, and to identify the possible outcomes and implications of this. The public debate on hate speech is polarized between two extremes: either complete freedom of speech or immediate banning and taking down of material reported as offensive. However, there is little attention paid on the actual ways in which social media corporations have developed and apply relevant policies on their platforms. The research aims to identify the variations in policy in three social media platforms, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, the rationale, and the implications of these policies.

Funded by: ABC with support from Department of Education & Skills | Funding Amount: €2000 | Staff involved: Dr. Eugenia Sapiera and Paloma Viejo Otero

Empowering youth through voice: The arts as an agent for bullying prevention

This research aims to investigate potential relationships between participation in the creative arts and the development of anti-bullying behavior. It seeks to establish whether and to what extent arts participation can promote anti-bullying behavior among young people. This in-depth review of the literature provides an overview of current global anti-bullying strategies identified in the literature and draws parallels between this field of research and research on the impact of arts participation on young people. This study considers the arts as a conduit for young people’s voice and examines potential links between creative expression and empowerment, and creative expression and increased self-esteem. In particular, it examines collaborative arts programmes which encourage listening to others’ ideas and respect for others’ views. It explores whether arts participation can promote social inclusion and tolerance among youth from diverse social and cultural backgrounds and assesses how such attributes can be developed to encourage anti-bullying behavior and attitudes. It proposes that arts participation fosters social equity among youth and suggests that increased provision of arts based programmes may help governments address some of the challenges associated with the social, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity present in Europe.

Funded by: ABC with support from Department of Education & Skills | Funding Amount: €2000 | Staff involved: Irene White MA and Dr. James O’Higgins Norman

Red Haired Racism in School Contexts in Ireland and Spain.

This research will engage with secondary school students in Ireland and Spain to explore how young people construct perceptions based on hair colour and to understand how red haired children experience their hair colour. There are four research objectives: (1) To explore perceptions of read hair amongst second level school children in Ireland and Spain, focusing on experiences of labelling and discrimination. (2) To engage participants in discussions around how perceptions of hair colour are constructed in society, investigating specifically how red hair is constructed in positive and/or negative ways. (3) To understand the experiences of young people who have been labelled or discriminated because of their red hair. (4) To develop anti-bullying resources aimed at critically deconstructing stereotypes based on hair colour. The methodology will implement active participatory learning techniques with classes such as ‘Jigsaw Discussions’ to explore in small groups how society perceives people based on hair colour. Participant discussions will be moderated and recorded. Students will also be asked to participate in ‘Silent Conversations’. This involves presenting participants with a range of age appropriate stimulus materials such as poetry, media reports and visual images of different hair colours (as well as other variables, such as size, height, skin colour, facial expression, age). After initial small group discussions, students work alone and in silence to compose individual written conversations with the materials. Semi-structured interviews will also be conducted with children with red hair to gain an understanding of their embodied experiences of having red hair.

Funded by: ABC with support from Department of Education & Skills | Funding Amount: €2000 | Staff involved: Dr. Majella McSharry and Dr. James O’Higgins Norman

Investigating bullying in children with Special Educational Needs.

The aim of this project is to develop an appropriate construction of the concept of bullying as it applies or is different among young people with Special Educational Needs. (1) To observe the behaviours and interactions amongst peers with pupils with disabilities in Post Primary Schools. (2) To record and compare the experiences of pupils with disabilities and their peers with no disabilities on bullying. (3) To identify and establish the different variables that contributes to bullying behaviours against pupils with disabilities. (4) To investigate teacher attitudes to bullying behaviours to pupils with disabilities. (5) To develop a participatory research programme with pupils with disabilities by enabling them to cultivate educational programmes for their peers in Post Primary schools on bullying and Disability. The methodology will involve two groups of secondary school students in Ireland and will include those with and without disabilities in order record and establish the differences in their experiences of bullying in mainstream secondary schools. The methodology will employ active participatory research methods where student voice will be central towards the development and cultivation of educational programmes for post primary schools.

Funded by: ABC with support from Department of Education & Skills | Funding Amount: €2000 | Staff involved: Dr. Geraldine Scanlon

Experiences of Implementing the National Action Plan on Bullying (2013) in DEIS Schools

Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools (DEIS) the Action Plan for Educational Inclusion, was launched in May 2005 and remains the Governments instrument to address inequalities in education. The Action Plan focuses on addressing and prioritising the educational needs of children and young people from lower socio economic communities, from pre-school through second-level education (3-18 years). In 2013 the Government launched a National Action Plan on Bullying and related policies and procedures to assist schools in developing a proactive strategy and methods of bullying prevention and intervention. This project is aimed at understanding what have been the experiences of DEIS schools in terms of implementing the objectives of the National Action Plan on Bullying (2013) and implementing the required policies and procedures. The data for the study will be collected by means of a questionnaire distributed among school principals and deputy principals.

Funded by: DCU Shared Research Fund | Funding Amount: €3000 | Staff Involved: Dr. James O’Higgins Norman, Dr. Paul Downes and Ms. Helena Murphy BSc.


Sonet BullABC will work with partners in Greece, Italy and Belgium on a project entitled “Using ICT training based on social networking tools with peer learning and crowdsourcing techniques to train school education stakeholders on how to deal with bullying”. The project main objective is to design, create, implement and evaluate a training platform that will provide teachers, teacher trainers, and all other stakeholders access to accredited training material on school bullying and cyber bullying, as well as the means to publish their experiences and to comment and tag the experience of their peers.

Website | Newsletter | Newsletter2 | Newsletter3 | Newsletter4 | Brochure | Report on Practices and Comptences in dealing with bullying in School Communities

Funded by: Erasmus+ | Funding Amount: €193,832 | Staff Involved: Dr. James O'Higgins Norman and Lian McGuire MSc


ParentNetsABC will work with partners in Spain, Belgium, Austria, Romania, and Portugal on a project focused on empowering parents to address cyberbullying among young people. The project is called “Training parents for detecting and preventing risks on Social Networks and Internet”. The main aim of this project is to train parents in the use of ICT and Social Media and the risks involved for young people. ParentNets Survey »

Funded by: Erasmus+ | Funding Amount: €285,988.25 | Staff Involved: Dr. James O'Higgins Norman and Lian McGuire MSc

Previous Research Projects

Staff assocciated with ABC have been involved with the following projects

Tackling Workplace Bullying for Adults with Learning Disability or Difficulties - Let me be me

Let me be ME!Let me be Me is an EU Leonardo da Vinci project which will develop a research-based training toolkit on tackling the workplace bullying of Adults with Learning Disabilities or Difficulties (ALD/D) for employers, trainers and support staff. Let me be Me is an EU Leonardo da Vinci funded project which aims to provide a research-based training toolkit on tackling the workplace bullying of Adults with Learning Disabilities or Difficulties (ALD/D) for employers, trainers and support staff.

The training toolkit will include background information on the problem, its nature and the extent in Europe, current projects, initiatives and approaches to tackling workplace bullying, best practice Europe-wide as well as practical guidance and resources for trainers working with the target groups of people with a learning difficulty/learning disability, employers those working in field of supported employment. It will also include a Trainee’s workbook, specifically designed for ALD/D.

The toolkit will be practice-oriented and aims to prepare trainers and employers for working with a range of different target groups. Further details from www.letmebeme.eu | Newsletter | Summary Report

Funding body: EU Leonardo da Vinci
 | Funding amount: €293,947 | Staff involved: Prof. Mona O’Moore, Lian McGuire MEd, Claire Healy MEd.

ARBAX – Against Bullying and Xenophobia Project

ARBAXARBAX is a multilateral project, funded by a grant from the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme. The project commenced in January 2012 and will be completed in December 2013. The main aim of the project is to contribute to preventing and combating bullying in schools, focusing on racial bullying. Multiethnic school environments, resulting from migration and globalization, are experiencing new forms of violence directed towards pupils coming from different social, cultural and ethnical environments. ARBAX shows pupils how different identities and cultures can peacefully coexist together and how ethnic stereotypes and prejudices can contribute to bullying incidents. The project will design an ICT tool which comprises a 3D video game and a social network that can be accessed by pupils. Through these, an anti-bullying, anti-racism and anti-xenophobia campaign will be promoted. Further information here | Project website: www.schoolbullying.euSchool Bullying

Funding body: EU Life Long Programme Comenius initiative | 
Funding amount: €
400,000 | Staff involved: Prof. Mona O’Moore, Dr. Erika Doyle, Lian McGuire MEd.


The CyberTraining-4-Parents (CT4P) project aims to develop and provide training courses on how to deal with cyberbullying. The training courses will provide introduction into the basics of new media and the latest state of research on cyberbullying. Furthermore, they aim to equip parents with knowledge and strategies on how to cope with cyberbulying. Apart from three face-to-face training courses for trainers in each of our partner countries – Germany, Ireland, Israel, Norway and Portugal – we will offer two moderated online training courses for trainers. For parents we will provide a self-directed online course.

Funding body: EU Life Long Programme Grundtvig Initiative | Funding amount: €383,129
 | Staff involved: Prof. Mona O’Moore, Lian McGuire MEd., Niall Crowley, Lucie Corcoran

CyberTraining – A Research-based Training Manual On Cyberbullying

Cyber TrainingThe CyberTraining project aims to provide a well-grounded, 
research-based training manual on cyberbullying for trainers. The
 training manual includes background information on cyberbullying, its 
nature and extent in Europe, current projects, initiatives and approaches 
tackling the cyberbullying problem, best practice Europe-wide as well as
practical guidance and resources for trainers working with the target
 groups of pupils, parents, teachers and schools. Further information from www.cybertraining-project.org

Funding body: EU Life Long Programme Grundtvig Initiative | Funding amount: €410,888 | Staff involved: Prof. Mona O’Moore, Conor McGuckin, Niall Crowley, Lian McGuire, M.Ed.

Cyberbullying Among Adolescent Girls in Post-primary schools

New technologies are radically transforming the ways in which young people communicate. There is growing public concern about how these new modes of communication might be facilitating and exacerbating aggressive and intimidating behaviours, as well as impacting upon how teenagers think about privacy and public space. To date, there are no policy guidelines for Irish schools on cyberbullying. In order to better understand the complexities of this issue, and to arrive at findings which can inform policy and practice on this issue in the future, this study provides a quantitative and qualitative, inter-disciplinary analysis of the issues involves in cyberbullying among adolescent girls.

Funding body: Faculty Research Capacity Fund | Funding amount: € 11,000 | Staff involved: James O'Higgins Norman, Debbie Ging, Minako O'Hagan

Alternatives to Political Violence

Boston College - Centre for Irish Programmes - The Irish Institute This project brings together 10 researchers and practitioners from across the island of Ireland, north and south, with a view to to promoting the peace and normalization process on the island of Ireland and to contribute to social, political, and economic stability through cross-border and cross-community cooperation. A particular focus of this project is the sharing of good practice on civil rights between Ireland (North and South) and the USA.

Funding body: U.S. Department of State Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs. | Funding amount: € 50,000 | DCU Principal Investigator: James O'Higgins Norman