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06 Dec 2021

Maynooth University to support online platform for anonymous reporting of violence and sexual harassment

Maynooth University to support online platform for anonymous reporting of violence and sexual harassment

File Pic: Maynooth University

Maynooth University (MU) has announced that it will support an online platform that will allow for the anonymous reporting of violence and sexual harassment.

The online reporting platform, Speak Out, supports users to anonymously disclose incidents of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, discrimination, hate crime, coercive behaviour and control, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

It is understood that the platform also helps users to find information and contact details on relevant MU supports and specialist external supports.

Speak Out also offers informed signposting guidance on formal reporting procedures, should users wish to make a formal complaint.

Kathleen McNutt, Head of Maynooth University Counselling Service, said about the announcement: "As the Counselling Service, we are very likely to meet students who come to speak with us on such incidences."

"We are very aware of the level of self-blame, guilt, shame and fear that prevails often with little understanding that what has happened or is happening is abusive or indeed a crime."

Ms McNutt continued: "One of the goals of implementing this reporting tool is to address the rate of under-reporting that is prevalent at present and to give a voice to those who may only feel able to make an anonymous report on what has happened to them."

Speak Out was launched nationally in October of this year as the Anonymous Violence and Harassment Reporting Tool for higher education institutions.

It is led by the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI) and funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Speaking at the official launch, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD said: "The creation of this innovative and supportive online platform will provide a safe and anonymous medium for students and staff to report incidents of bullying, assault or sexual violence in a trauma-informed environment."

"These are issues that my Dept is acutely aware of, and I’m delighted we could provide funding for this vital project.

"Speak Out represents a national approach to tackling these issues by raising awareness, and by providing a means of recording instances, which will assist in achieving a zero-tolerance culture."

The announcement of Speak Out follows after The Bystander Intervention programme, which consists of a series of audio-visual learning materials, was provided to Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) back in September.

It was initially developed in 2019 by a team based in University College Cork.

More information about Speak Out is available on the official MU website.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact the Rape Crisis Centre (RCC) by visiting drcc.ie, emailing the RCC at volunteeringservices@rcc.ie or by ringing its national helpline at 1 800 77 8888. 

Additionally, you can call Samaritans Ireland at 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie.

Help is always at hand and there is always someone available to listen.

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