herald

Thursday 14 November 2019

'We need to do more to tackle bullying in wake of Ana' - campaigners

Ana Kriegel was said to be ‘sensitive and very innocent’
Ana Kriegel was said to be ‘sensitive and very innocent’

An anti-bullying campaign group says Ireland is not yet facing up to childhood bullying in the wake of the Ana Kriegel case, with a lack of State funding to tackle it head on.

Patricia Kennedy, from Sticks and Stones, an anti-bullying programme based in Dublin, said in September she gave the group just another 18 months to survive, due to zero State funding.

Resource

Ms Kennedy, who fundraises and uses school paid-for workshops to fund the group, said "nothing" has improved in terms of the State tackling real-time bullying in the wake of Ana's murder.

The one potential "positive" Ireland could now do for all schools, parents and children, would be to properly resource this area.

"There's a capacity for bullying at every school in Ireland," Ms Kennedy said.

"The sooner we face up to that and actually properly start tackling that, the better.

"We could have something positive grow out of the tragic loss of Ana.

"No child should have to go through bullying and if a school says there's no bullying, they are denying the truth.

"No child should suffer. We must listen to children's voices and that means more resources to train schools and parents," she added.

Ms Kennedy said the case had a "devastating impact" on Irish society.

Reports of bullying were at the core of the Central Criminal Court case in the summer, which led to the jailing of two schoolboys.

The schoolgirl was repeatedly bullied via Snapchat and YouTube accounts, the trial heard.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media One will air a documentary about Ana's murder tonight.

Secret

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy told Virgin Media about how Ana had been adopted from Russia as a baby by her parents Geraldine and Patric.

"We met Ana within a week of her arrival from Russia," she said.

"They kept it quite close, secret, until it was certain they were going to adopt her.

"Essentially it was great excitement when they told us it was going to happen.

"They were very much footloose and fancy free at the time.

"It would have made a gigantic difference from a quiet house to one with a boisterous child.

"Her personality was already formed from when she was a young child. She was loud in the house.

"She was very sensitive and very innocent, she looked older than she was."

Newly released photographs of the schoolgirl show Ana horse riding and painting.

The images depict the innocent young girl who adored her family.

Senior counsel Michael O'Higgins told the documentary that anyone guilty of such a heinous crime usually "have a long history behind them".

"They would have a criminal forensic history. In this case there was none of this," he said.

"The boys came from very respectable backgrounds and there didn't appear to be anything giving a clue about what lay ahead."

The Ana Kriegel Murder: A Young Life Lost airs at 10pm tonight

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