Faith plays a role in encouraging positive interactions between students online, as bullying moves from schoolyards to social media, according to the secretary for the Episcopal Council for Education.
At the launch of Catholic Schools Week in the Killaloe Diocese it was highlighted that this year there will be a year-long catechetical programme working in partnership with the World Meeting of Families 2018. This week the theme is ‘Catholic Schools: Families of Faith’, which aims to emphasise the school as a Faith community.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic, Fr Tom Deenihan said that there is a “tremendous opportunity” to tackle issues with social media use in schools.
“Words on social media are the same as words in the yard, and have implications. It seems that the traditional form of bullying has moved from fisticuffs and name-calling to social media,” he said.
“I’m suggesting that when we’re celebrating Catholic schools as communities of Faith, we need to look at how our Faith influences our interactions with each other, and I say that in the context of pupil to pupil, teacher to teacher and even pupil to teacher.”
Fr Deenihan said that this would make schools happier places for all students, and that the best way for schools to combat online bullying is to spread awareness that students are communicating with real people.
“I think we need to be continually putting out the message that we’re made in the image and likeness of God, we are equal in God’s eyes, and if Catholic schools can achieve making that point known then I think it is more likely that students will be aware of the implications of what they put up on social media,” he added.
During Mass at the launch Bishop Fintan Monahan said the tension between religion and matters secular is sometimes described as “as a choice between Pie in the Sky or Jam where I am!”
He added that Catholic education “allows us to bridge this gap and get the broader picture that educates the total person”.
The Catholic School’s catechetical programme has four themes or ‘moments’. Already passed was Families of Hope, held during the Month of Holy Souls in 2017, this week celebrates Families of Faith, followed by Families of Love in Lent and Families of Joy in April/May.