This document is based on ‘Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour in Primary and Post Primary schools’ issued by Department of Education and Science. This document was drawn up and amended in consultation with teaching and non teaching staff, the Board of Management and parents in 2003. It is hoped that such an approach will ensure consensus and clarity on what bullying is and how it will be dealt with. This policy will be set within the broader context of Social, Personal and Health Education – SPHE and the ethos of Scoil an Duinnínigh
The creation of a positive school climate which focuses on respect for the individual is central to our school response to bullying. Pupils are encouraged to report incidents of bullying and to take responsibility for the safety and welfare of fellow pupils. We stress the need to prevent and not just control bullying. Regular teacher meetings to share experiences on bullying problems, learning from each others successes and failures in preventing and dealing with it.
Our school Philosophy
The role of our school is to provide the highest standard of primary education through the medium of Irish for all our pupils in a positive school climate which focuses on respect for the individual. A stable, secure learning environment is an essential requirement to achieve this goal. The school community as a whole i.e. Board of Management, teaching and non-teaching staff, pupils and parents/guardians as well as those from the local community who interface with the school all co-operate to provide this context.
Bullying by its very nature undermines and dilutes the quality of education and may impose psychological damage. Bullying behaviour affects not only those immediately involved but also everyone in the classroom, the school community and ultimately the wider community. It is not a normal phase of development.
The issue must be positively and firmly addressed through a range of school-based measures and strategies through which all members of the school community are enabled to act effectively in dealing with this behaviour. Since bullying behaviour thrives in an atmosphere of uncertainty and secrecy a high degree of collective vigilance is needed throughout the school and by parents, if bullying behaviour is to be identified and dealt with in a fair and equitable manner.
Our anti-bullying policy emphasises increasing the confidence and self-esteem of the pupil and prevention, not just control, of bullying.
What is Bullying?
Bullying happens within a relationship involving some form of hurtful abuse of power. It can be:
- Verbal (e.g. being called names, nasty comments).
- Social (e.g. being left out of things/no one talking to you).
- Material (e.g. possessions stolen/property damaged/extortion).
- Mental (e.g. threatened /pressure to conform).
- Physical (e.g. being assaulted).
What Bullying is not?
Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, which should not be condoned, are not described as bullying. ‘Fighting’ is usually a one off incident with the purpose of dealing with immediate conflict.
It is different from ‘play fighting’ or ‘rough and tumble’, which are marked by laughter, smiles, restraint and turn taking.
1. To create a school ethos which encourage children to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour.
The creation of a positive school climate which focuses on respect for the individual is central to a whole school response to bullying. Pupils must be encouraged to report incidents of bullying and to take responsibility for the safety and welfare of fellow pupils. There should be a consensus within the school community on how bullying in the school should be treated. – Staff, pupils and parents mush be involved in the development of a non bullying school policy.
The policy should stress the need to prevent and not just control bullying.
Following an incident of bullying, aspects of the policy may need to be altered to make bullying less likely in the future.
2. Raising the awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour with school management, teachers, pupils, parents/guardians.
- Our school policy will be explained by all teachers in September, all classes in same week. Parents will discuss revised code with their own child.
- Children will sign children’s version of anti-bullying declaration each September. Parents will discuss and sign same for child.
- Anti bullying will be addressed on first Friday every month in class/assembly. Parents will discuss matter with their child on same day
- Staff day on the subject of bullying. Complemented by an awareness day for pupils and parents/guardians.
- Inviting experts in area of bullying to talk to parents.
- Curricular initiatives i.e. literature, history & geography re: colonisation and negative aspects of power; sport can provide excellent opportunities for learning how to control aggression.
- Use of art displays, written work of pupils such as stories, poetry and drama, in classrooms, hall and social areas.
- Leaflets designed by pupils and teachers to outline what pupils are to do if they are bullied or bully others.
3. Comprehensive supervision and monitoring measures through which all areas of school activity are kept under observation.
Board of Management and parents in conjunction with staff and pupils will co-operate in developing a system of measures to deal with incidents of bullying behaviour. It would, of course, be most desirable that non-teaching staff be part of the process in measures to counter bullying behaviour in school. Also schemes need to be developed to involve all parents/guardians.
4. Procedures for noting and reporting an incident of Bullying Behaviour.
- All reports of bullying, no matter how trivial, should be noted on form 1, investigated and dealt with by teachers. In this way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’ – this confidence factor is of vital importance.
- Serious cases of bullying behaviour by pupils will be referred immediately to Principal or Vice Principal: Cód Smachta Céim 6 …
“A child may be put on a higher step of the code of discipline at the discretion of the Board of Management & School Principal in cases where a gross breach of discipline has occurred.”
- Parents or guardians of victims and bullies should be informed by Principal or Vice Principal at early stage so that they are given the opportunity of discussing the matter. They are then in a position to help and support their children before crisis occurs.
- Principal or Vice Principal is appropriate person to whom parents/guardians can make their enquiries regarding incidents of bullying behaviour which they suspect or have come to their attention through their child(ren) or other parents/guardians.
- Reporting incidents of bullying is not telling tales but rather behaving responsibly.– “This is a telling school”.
- Non-teaching staff are encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to Principal or Vice Principal. – “This is a telling school”.
- In case of a complaint regarding a staff member this should raised with the staff member and if necessary with Principal.
- Where cases, relating to either pupil or teacher remain unresolved at school level, the matter should be referred to the Board of Management.
- If not resolved at Board of Management level, refer to local inspectorate.
5. Procedures for investigation and dealing with Bullying.
Incidents are best investigated outside the classroom situation to avoid public humiliation of the victim or the pupil engaged in bullying behaviour.
‘This is a telling school’. ‘This is a no hitting school’
Our school approach is to work in partnership on equal terms so that there is a constructive outcome rather than punishment.
- Initial talk with bullied person
Adult will be supportive, listen and confirm if the person is an innocent victim or otherwise. Find out how pupil is feeling about what happened. Who is involved – all details are not necessary or indeed helpful. When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour seek answers to questions What, Where, When, Who and Why. Done in a calm manner this sets example for dealing with a conflict in a non-aggressive manner.
- Talks with bullying pupil(s)
Through individual interview the bullying pupil is led into being concerned about the pupil they have bullied, acknowledging their part and then suggesting a way to make up for their behaviour. (10 – 20 mins.) After about a week the talks are repeated. (See 4)
If a group is involved each member, beginning with ring-leader is interviewed separately, and then the gang meet as a group. All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned.
Interview: What you know about the situation, letting them know they are involved but asking for their version. Communicate how bad the bullied child feels. (No effort to be made to find out exactly what happened – waste of time and creates more trouble for bullied child). No blame will be attributed but rather share responsibility by asking what they are going to do about it and let them know you will meet again in a week when they can tell you how they are getting on.
- Teachers who are investigating cases of bullying behaviour should keep a written record of their discussions with those involved. It maybe appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident.
In cases where it is determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, teacher will meet with the parents/guardians of the two parties involved to explain the action being taken and the reasons for them, referring them to the school policy. They can discuss ways in which they can reinforce or support the action taken by the school – (see note on helping bullied and bully). Bullying pupil is clearly in breach of Code of Discipline – but first the problem will be dealt with in this way.
- Final talks with bullying pupils.
Discuss any success or failure in helping the person bullied, individually or in a group.
If group insist that the problem is with the bullied child’s behaviour, prepare a meeting with group and bullied child. At this meeting ask each person to start by giving positive view of the person being bullied, then ask the bullied person to respond positively. This is a meeting for communication not judgement.When bullied pupils realise that bullies will not be punished and in turn not take out their resentment by further bullying, it is easier for them to report bullying.
From the pupils point of view a policy must incorporate the provision of an armoury of strategies and techniques that will be useful to him/her in a bullying situation. Taught as part of SPHE:
- Tell someone.
- Act confidently – assert yourself, practise appropriate language.
- Try to ignore the bully/bullies.
- Stay in a group.
- If you are in a threatening situation where you are in physical danger get away.
It is very important that pupils report bullying they have witnessed: there are no innocent bystanders.
- If someone in your family, or other pupil in school is being bullied tell the school.
- Work with the school.
- Bullying is a serious issue and should be dealt with immediately.
- Talk and listen to your child.
- Make sure your child knows what steps you are taking.
Programme for work with victims, bullies and their peers.
Pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance on an ongoing basis.
- As self-esteem is the single most influential factor in determining behaviour and indeed a greater predictor of success than intelligence, teachers will provide pupils with opportunities to develop a positive sense of worth.
- Pupils with bullying behaviour must be taught ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others.
- Victims may need opportunities to participate in activities to develop their friendship and social skills.
- Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour are encouraged to discuss them with their teacher.
7. School working with and through the various local agencies in countering all forms of bullying as an anti-social behavior.
Lollipop lady, bus driver, local shop-keeper can prove vital allies in the detection and elimination of bullying. Their contact with the school may be incidental, but it is significant because this contact is sustained. Their awareness of an anti-bullying campaign can help break the deadlock of secrecy surrounding bullying incidents. If incidents occur outside the school the vigilance of these members of the community can bring about early detection and hopefully prevention of bullying. The role of these members must be clarified for them and for pupils. Through forming a network a positive community attitude can considerably assist in countering bullying behaviour in schools
- The Principal will quantify incidents of bullying from records and this forms an identifiable trend in the bullying pattern within the school.
- Assessment of levels of achievement and comparisons to expected outcomes will be undertaken annually.
- Included on staff meeting agenda.
- Parents are invited individually to make formal submissions in drawing up of this policy or to submit amendments/suggestions when review is in place.
- Any amendments as a result of such reviews will be undertaken.
Our anti-bullying policy with its emphasis on increasing the confidence of the pupil is immediately linked to the pupils self esteem. Recurrent themes underpin work on countering bully behaviour.
Best achieved through defining bullying behaviour and the dissemination of information formally and informally to all members of school community.
The belief that bullying behaviour can be tackled is best achieved where there is open communication and shared involvement.
The continuation of the work on countering bullying relies on commitment: policy statement, administrative procedures and linking the curriculum of anti-bullying messages. Commitment is best sustained where all members of school community act out in their daily interactions the message that bullying is not an acceptable part of school life.
- Department of Education Circular 20/96:
- Guidelines on countering bullying behaviour in Primary and Post Primary Schools – September 1993
- RSE programme
- Walk Tall – Substance misuse prevention programme
- ISPCC – Kidscape “Stop Bullying”
- In Touch, October 1997–“Setting up an anti-Bullying Programme”
- Strathclyde Regional Council Department of Education
- “Bully Proofing Our School”
- Drumcondra Educational Centre
- Bullying – A Teachers Resource Booklet
- I.N.T.O. – Discipline in the Primary School
- Dr. Brendan Byrne – Coping with Bullying in School