On behalf of the committee, I welcome Dr. Angela Mazzone, a psychologist and post-doctoral researcher in anti-bullying studies; Dr. Seline Keating, assistant professor in social, personal and health education and research fellow in anti-bullying studies; and joining us online is Dr. Tijane Milosevic, the Marie Skodowska-Curie ELITE-S post-doctoral fellow. Our guests are all from the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre in Dublin City University, DCU. Professor James O'Higgins Norman, director of the centre, cannot be with us today but I would like to thank him for his assistance and support while we were trying to organise this meeting. I will shortly ask our guests to brief the committee on school bullying with specific reference to cyberbullying and Internet security during Covid-19.
Today is a special day. It is the first United Nations Day against Violence and Bullying at School including Cyberbullying. On behalf of the committee, I would like to say that we are honoured to have the opportunity to publicly support such an important international event. I would also like to commend the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, which has been instrumental in establishing this day. I genuinely hope it plays a pivotal role in highlighting the issues and encourages all those involved in education to commit to an inclusive culture in schools so that bullying is never tolerated. I also hope the voices of young people are heard and listened to in this important work.
I will invite the witnesses to make a brief opening statement, which will be followed by questions from members.
I will invite our guests to make a brief opening statement which will be followed by questions by members of the committee. The committee will publish the opening statement on its website following the meeting.
Before we begin, I remind members of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person or body outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
Many school principals from primary and second level schools will be watching this morning. Transition year classes across the country are also watching for what will be an important conversation. Bullying in schools includes many types of bullying, including physical and verbal. In recent years, it has changed in recent years with the occurrence of cyberbullying. This bullying can have serious effects on many people, including suicide.
Witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their presentation to the committee. This means they have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything they say at the meeting. However, they are expected not to abuse this privilege and it is my duty as Chairman to ensure that this privilege is not abused. If their statements, therefore, are potentially defamatory in regard to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction. Dr. Milosevic is giving evidence remotely from a place outside of the parliamentary precincts and, as such, may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness who is physically present. Witnesses have already been advised that they may think it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter.
As a witness participating in this committee session from another jurisdiction, they will have been advised that they must also be mindful of the domestic law and how it may apply to the evidence they may give.
They are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person or body outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. If their statements are potentially defamatory to any identifiable person or entity they will be directed to discontinue so as not to repeat that.
At the conclusion of today's meeting, I will ask all members to stand for a few moments to show that this committee stands against bullying.
I ask Dr. Mazzone to make her opening statement