By David O’Farrell
FUSE is a brand-new anti-bullying and online safety programme, developed by the anti-bullying research and resource centre in Dublin City University, with the support of social media giant, Facebook.
FUSE was first launched in Dublin, September of this year.
TheCity.ie spoke to Darran Heaney, project manager of FUSE, to find out where the implementation of the programme is currently at. He said: “In February 2019, we ran a pilot to test the curriculum with 20 schools. We have now offered out the FUSE programme to schools across the country. This took place in September.”
The programme is aimed at second year students in junior cycle, their parents and school staff in post-primary schools across Ireland.
It is also a research project, with surveys having begun with participating students, teachers and parents. The next stage of the programme is the delivery of six workshops to students by their teachers.
“FUSE aims to empower students to be able to tackle bullying themselves”
The workshops will involve students creating a project or intervention to tackle bullying and raise awareness of online safety in their school.
Heaney added: “FUSE aims to empower students to be able to tackle bullying themselves, knowing that they have their teachers and parents in the background as support.
“With online bullying now a norm, it means that children can be targeted whenever and wherever they are. Schools and parents no longer have control over what is happening, and the FUSE programme attempts to tackle these problems.”
A recent study carried out by ABC, the national anti-bullying research and resource centre, reported that 26% of primary school children in the country said they had been bullied offline, while 13% said they had been bullied online. In secondary schools, the figures were lower but still significant, with 12% saying they had been bullied offline and 10% online.
“Schools and parents no longer have control over what is happening, and the FUSE programme attempts to tackle these problems”
The initiative will be carried out over a year-long period, which Heaney explained aims to stop bullying in schools. He said: “[FUSE] is delivered by teachers who are anti-bullying coordinators in each school and over the course of the year, students are empowered to tackle bullying and raise awareness of online safety in their schools.”
ABC has provided a curriculum to support teachers and students in achieving the project goals, which include reducing levels of bullying; increased reporting of bullying incidents; raise awareness of online safety, and increase inclusiveness within schools.
FUSE currently has a timeline of events set out on its website which will run until April 2020. Second year students involved in the FUSE programme are encouraged to make projects around tackling online bullying which will be showcased on Safer Internet Day in February 2020. These projects will then be presented to the National Anti-Bullying Centre in April 2020, with the best winning praise from the centre in recognition of students’ efforts to stop online bullying.