Anti-Bullying Policy

1 ANTI BULLYING POLICY ST. LUKE’S NATIONAL SCHOOL Introduction: Bullying affects everyone, not just the bullies and the victims. It also affects those other children who watch, and less aggressive pupils can be drawn in by group pressure. Bullying is not an inevitable part of school life or a necessary part of growing up, and it rarely sorts itself out. It is clear that certain jokes, insults, intimidating or threatening behaviour, written abuse and violence can be found in our community. No one person or group, whether staff or pupil, should have to accept this type of behaviour. Only when all issues of bullying are addressed, will a child best be able to benefit from the opportunities available at the school. Why is an anti bullying policy necessary? Our school with a Catholic ethos believes that its pupils have the right to learn in a supportive, caring and safe environment without fear of being bullied. All institutions, both large and small, contain some numbers of pupils with the potential for bullying behaviour. The school can minimise the occurrence of bullying. The school promotes good citizenship, where it is made clear that bullying is a form of anti social behaviour. BULLYING is WRONG and will not be tolerated. It is important therefore, that the school has a clear written policy to promote this belief, where both pupils and parents are fully aware that any bullying complaints will be dealt with firmly, fairly and promptly. What is bullying? Bullying is repeated aggression verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against others. Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, which should not be condoned, can scarcely, be described as bullying. However, when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing it is bullying. It is not just one serious incident but repeated anti-social behaviour over a period of time. Bullying can occur through several types of anti-social behaviour. It can be: (i) Physical A child can be physically punched, kicked, hit, spat at etc. (ii) Verbal or written 2 Verbal abuse can take the form of name calling. It may be directed towards gender, ethnic origin, physical/social disability or personality. For example: Insulting notes may be passed around concerning an individual or writing on walls or in the toilets about people can be very hurtful. (iii) Exclusion A child can be bullied simply by being excluded from discussions/activities, with those they believe to be their friends. (iv) Damage to property and theft Pupils may have their property damaged or stolen. Physical threats may be used by the bully in order that the pupil hands over property to them. (v) Extortion Demands for money may be made, often accompanied by threats (sometimes carried out) in the event of the victim not promptly “paying up”. Victims’ lunches may be taken. Victims may also be forced into theft of property for delivery to the bully. Sometimes, this tactic is used with the sole purpose of incriminating the victim. (vi) Bullying of school personnel Bullying of school personnel by means of physical assault to property, verbal abuse, threats to people’s families etc. What can you do if you are being bullied? Remember that a person’s silence is the bully’s greatest weapon! Tell yourself that you do not deserve to be bullied and that it is WRONG! Be proud of who you are. It is good to be an individual. Try not to show that you are upset. It is hard but a bully thrives on someone’s fear. Stay with a group of friends/people. There is safety in numbers. Be assertive – shout “NO”! Walk confidently away. Go straight to a teacher or a member of staff. Tell and the Bullying will stop! Do not retaliate. Talk to a teacher or parent/guardian. Generally it is best to tell an adult you trust straight away. You will get immediate support. The teachers will take you seriously and will deal with bullies in a way which will end the bullying and will not make things worse for you. IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE IS BEING BULLIED a) TAKE ACTION! Watching and doing nothing looks as if you are on the side of the bully. It makes the victim feel more unhappy and on their own. b) If you feel you cannot get involved, tell an adult IMMEDIATELY. 3 c) Do not be, or pretend to be friends with a bully. As a parent a) Always take an active role in your child’s education. Enquire how their day has gone, who they have spent time with, how lunch time was spent etc. b) Look for unusual behaviour in your children. For example, they may suddenly not wish to attend school, feel ill regularly, or not complete work to their normal standard. c) If you feel your child may be a victim of bullying behaviour, inform the school IMMEDIATELY. Your complaint will be taken seriously and appropriate action will follow. d) Tell your son or daughter there is nothing wrong with him or her. It is not his or her fault that they are being bullied. e) Make sure your child is fully aware of the school policy concerning bullying, and that they should not be afraid to ask for help. As a school a) We organise the school day in order to minimize opportunities for bullying, e.g. provide increased supervision at problem times. b) We use any opportunity to discuss aspects of bullying and the appropriate way to behave towards each other, e.g. the RSE Stay Safe Programme c) Deal quickly, firmly and fairly with any complaints regarding bullying, involving parents immediately. d) Ongoing review of the School Policy and its degree of success. e) The school staff will continue to have a firm but fair discipline structure. The rules should be few, simple and easy to understand. f) Not use teaching materials or equipment which gives a bad or negative view of any group because of their ethnic origin, sex, etc. g) Encourage pupils to discuss how they get on with other people and to form positive attitudes towards other people. This includes a review of what friendship really is. h) Encourage pupils to treat everyone with respect. 4 i) We will treat bullying as a serious offence and take every possible action to eradicate it from our school. Procedures for Noting and Reporting an incident of Bullying Behaviour School authorities should ensure that there is a procedure for the formal noting and reporting an incident of bullying behaviour and that such a procedure should be seen to be an integral part of the Code of Behaviour and Discipline in the school. This system should, also, provide for early detection of signs of indiscipline and/or significant change in mood or behaviour of pupils. All reports of bullying, no matter how trivial, should be noted, investigated and dealt with by teachers. In that way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’. This confidence factor is of vital importance. Serious cases of bullying behaviour by pupils should be referred immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal. Parents or guardians of victims and bullies should be informed by the Principal or Deputy Principal earlier rather than later of incidents. They are then in a position to help and support their children before a crisis occurs. Parents or guardians must be informed of the appropriate person to whom they can make their enquiries. These are incidents of bullying behaviour, which they might suspect or that have come to their attention through their children or other parents/guardians. It should be made clear to all pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not telling tales but are behaving responsibly Individual teachers in consultation with the appropriate staff member should record and take appropriate measures regarding reports of bullying behaviour in accordance with the school’s policy and Code of Behaviour and Discipline. Non teaching staff such as secretaries, caretakers and cleaners should be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the appropriate teaching member of staff. In the case of a complaint regarding a staff member, this should normally in the first instance be raised with the staff member in question and if necessary, with the Principal. 5 Where cases, relating to either a pupil or a teacher are unresolved at school level, the matter should be referred to the School’s Board of Management. If not solved at Board level, refer to local Inspectorate. Procedures for Investigating and Dealing with Bullying Teachers are best advised to take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour reported by either, pupils, staff or parents/guardians. Such incidents are best investigated outside the classroom situation to avoid the public humiliation of the victim or the pupil engaged in bullying, in an attempt to get both sides of the story. All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way. (It is advised that teachers acting alone in this situation can leave themselves open to accusations). When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This should be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing effectively with a conflict in a non-aggressive manner. If a gang is involved, each member should be interviewed individually and then the gang should be met as a group. Each member should be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone is clear about what everyone else has said. If it is concluded that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to him/her how he/she is in breach of the Code of Behaviour and Discipline and try to get him/her to see the situation from the victim’s point of view. Each member of the gang should be helped to handle the possible pressures that often face them from other members after interview by the teacher. Teachers who are investigating cases of bullying behaviour should keep a written record of their discussions with those involved. It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident. In cases where it has been determined that bullying behaviour has occurred; meet with the parents or guardians of the two parties involved. Explain the actions being taken and the reasons for them, referring them to the school policy. Discuss ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions taken by the school. 6 Arrange follow-up meetings with the two parties involved separately with a view to possibly bringing them together at a later date if the victim is ready and agreeable. This can have a therapeutic effect. Programme for work with victims, bullies and their peers Pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance on an ongoing basis. For those low in self esteem opportunities should be developed to increase feelings of selfworth. Pupils who engage in bullying behaviour may need counselling to help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others. Victims may need counselling and opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem and to develop their friendship and social skills whenever this is needed. If bullying is suspected we talk to the suspected victim, the suspected bully and any witnesses. If any degree of bullying is identified, the following action will be taken. Help and support will be given as is appropriate to both the victim and the bullies. We can support the victim in the following ways:  By offering them an immediate opportunity to talk about the experience with their class teacher, or another teacher if they choose and informing the victims’ parents/guardians  By offering continuing support when they feel they need it  By taking one or more of the seven disciplinary steps described below to prevent more bullying We also discipline, yet try to help the bullies in the following ways: 1) By talking about what happened, to discover why they became involved. 2) Informing the bullies’ parents/guardians immediately. Either verbally or by letter. 3) They will be asked to explain why they should not bully other children. 4) If they do not stop bullying they may be suspended for a minor fixed period (one to three days). 5) If they carry on the situation will be discussed with the parents again and they may be recommended for suspension for a major fixed period (up to five days) or an indefinite period in agreement with the Board of Management. 7 6) If they will not end such behaviour, they may be requested to appear before the Board of Management with their parent(s) or guardians 7) In certain cases, however, it may be necessary to invite the assistance of other local persons and formal agencies such as general medical practitioners, gardai, health boards with their social workers and community workers. 8) A positive community attitude and involvement can, therefore, assist considerably in countering bullying behaviour in schools. The promotion of relevant home/school/community links is important to counter bullying behaviour and should be encouraged as a normal part of the school’s effective operation. Signatures Chairperson Principal Date Reviewed: 10th October 2017 Date For Future Review: 9 th October 2018 Or as required by the Department of Education and Science/ Board of Management of St Luke’s N.S.