Anti-Bullying Policy

Anti Bullying Policy
St Joseph's Secondary School,
Tulla,
Co. Clare
2008

Introduction

This school through it's Mission Statement wishes to nurture a caring environment in the school.
Bullying can have a significant effect on the well being of young people and on their progress in school. These effects can involve headaches stress symptoms such as sleep problems, stomach aches eating disorders, anxiety or panic attacks and loss of confidence and self-esteem.
This draft anti bullying policy has been developed by a working group of teachers in consultation with the full teaching staff. It will be presented the Parents Council and student representatives for their comments before the final draft is submitted to the Board of Management for ratification.

Rational
It is a whole school policy. Its purpose is to help counteract bullying behaviour in our school and to emphasise the traumatic and devastating effect of bullying on the individual and the school as an organisation.

Scope of policy
The procedures invoked by this policy are to do with students. Procedures are already in place to deal with staff bullying as covered by employment legislation and the Dignity at Work Charter.

Roles and responsibilities in developing and implementing this policy
The board of Management have a duty of care towards all its students/employees.
All employees are responsible for their professional behaviour in the workplace.
All individuals, whether directly employed or contracted by the school have a duty and responsibility to uphold this policy.

Definition of Bullying
Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another. Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, which should not be condoned, can scarcely be described as bullying. However when behaviour is systematic and ongoing it is bullying.
Types of bullying
Physical aggression, damage to property, extortion, intimidation, abusive text-messages/phone calls, isolation, name calling, slagging, bullying of school personnel.

Policy aims:

  • To create a school ethos which encourages students to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying
  • To raise awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour with school management, teachers, pupils, parents/guardians. ( Staff Day e.t.c.)
  • To ensure comprehensive supervision and monitoring measures are employed
  • To develop procedures for noting and reporting incidents of bullying behaviour. (Calm unemotional, problem solving approach)
  • To develop a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and for those involved in bullying behaviour. (Develop opportunities to increase feelings of self worth)
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of school policy on anti-bullying behaviour.
  • To work with and through the various local agencies in countering all forms of bullying (school community, local shops, G.P., GardaĆ­, Health Board e.t.c.)

Suggestions from anti-bullying committee

  • A bullying record form should be available where teachers can record any incidents/investigations.
  • Student journals should include an article on bullying to raise awareness and encourage reporting.
  • All students should receive a training day on bullying
  • First year students should be fully briefed on anti-bullying policy
  • Victims of bullying should receive a hand-out on bullying to reassure them that it is not their fault.

Student - Student bullying
Research in Ireland shows that most students will not tell adults that they are being bullied. 84% of victims said they had not told their teachers, and 66% did not tell anyone at home.
Fears, feelings and beliefs of young people in relation to telling:
That the bullying will get worse
Physical threats may have already been made and they are anxious of retaliation.
May be worried about an adverse reaction from their parents "they cannot stand up for themselves"
May lack social skills or confidence to come forward
They believe that nothing can/will be done about the bullying.
Given the reluctance to tell it is important that teachers take a pro-active role in investigating bullying. Any pupil who discloses bullying is expressing a cry for help which needs a robust response from the teacher they have chosen to tell.

Steps

Listen
Allow the student time to tell their story in their own words.
Be calm and objective, avoid displaying shock or disbelief, and accept what is said. Privacy of an office is recommended as is having a colleague present. If the student insists of being alone with the teacher, leave the door open.
Take Notes
This will form the basis of a report for dealing with the incident. Standard forms should be supplied by the school.
Reassure in the following way
The young person needs to know that
Help is available
Action will be taken to stop the bullying
Telling is praiseworthy
Bullying can happen to anyone
"It is not your fault"
There is nothing wrong with you.
You do not have to face this on your own.
Ensure the students safety
Satisfy yourself that the student is not in immediate danger of physical assault. If there is a risk parents can be asked to collect the student.
Negotiate Confidentiality
Explain that you may have to talk to other people
Tell the young person that you will keep them informed
Let them know how you are going to proceed
Make an intervention
Decide who to refer to;
Class teacher
Year head . The year head will decide if/when parents should be informed
Vice-Principal
Principal
The pastoral care team may be called in at any time in this process
Decide who to interview
Witnesses
Alleged bully or bullies
Students not involved- might be helpful in this context "Is anyone in your class getting a hard time"
Seek answers to What? When? Where? Who? Why? How?
Take a calm unemotional problem-solving approach. Deal with conflict in a non aggressive non confrontational way.
Resolve the problem

Victim and Bully
Many incidents can be resolved by explaining to the bully what is wrong with their behaviour and how it is affecting the other person. In the majority a cases an agreement to stop and an apology to the victim will be forthcoming. Bringing the two parties together to achieve a reconciliation can have a very positive outcome for both students.

Parents and Bully
Where the bullying requires imposition of sanctions the co-operation of parents is crucial. The school code of discipline must come into play. Agreement should be sought from parents and the pupil responsible in relation to future behaviour.

Parents and Principal
With a very resistant bully intervention may take a long time with ongoing management involvement.

Board of Management
In rare cases complete denial may be vigorously supported by the parents of the bully. The school management should be involved in resolving the difficulty. If it remains unresolved at school level then it should be referred to the Board of Management.
Persistent bullying
Students who are repeatedly bullied or those who persistently bully others may need to be referred to either the Educational or Child Psychological services

Make a Record
Should be descriptive, objective and should avoid giving an opinion.
Include:

  • Details of bullying report
  • Details recounted by others involved
  • Agreements made between the parties, including parents. This should be signed by the parents and student involved and kept as part of the school record.
  • An account of the action taken by the school i.e.. mediation, sanctions, referral to counselling or psychological help.
  • Suggestions to follow up and monitor the situation.
    Performance Criteria

Review
When incidents occur is the policy being followed.
Has the level of bullying reported decreased?