Anti-Bullying Policy

Introduction:

This policy was formulated by the staff of St. Mogue’s N.S. in consultation with the Board of Management.

Rationale:

We have devised an anti-bullying policy at this time because it is a priority area identified by the staff and we have decided to review and amend the existing policy. 

Relationship to School Ethos:

Our school philosophy and ethos is one where we seek the creation of a positive and harmonious school climate, in which potential to succeed is fully nurtured and which focuses on respect for all individuals working within the school.

It can be a misconception among adults that bullying is a normal phase of development, and that it teaches pupils to toughen up.  This is one that we, as a staff, challenge.  We hope to imbue all pupils with a sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of their fellow pupils.  We place special emphasis on the need to prevent and not just control bullying.  We see self-esteem as the single most influential factor in determining behaviour.  Mutual respect between teachers and pupils and equally important, between pupils themselves is a key element in this policy.  We recognise that any pupil can be a victim, or a perpetrator, of bullying behaviour.  We as teachers and role models can influence attitudes to bullying behaviour in a positive manner and co-operation between staff, parents and pupils is viewed as essential to the success of this policy.

Aims:

  • To create a school ethos which encourages children to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour
  • To raise awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour with school management, teachers, pupils, parents/guardian
  • To ensure comprehensive supervision and monitoring measures through which all areas of school activity are kept under observation
  • To develop procedures for noting and reporting incidents of bullying behaviour
  • To develop procedures for investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour
  • To provide support for those affected by bullying behaviour and for those involved in bullying behaviour
  • To work with and through the various  local agencies in countering all forms of bullying and anti-social behaviour
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of school policy on anti-bullying behaviour

 

Definition of Bullying and Where it Happens:

 

As a staff we consider bullying to be repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against others.  When such behaviour is systematic and ongoing, as opposed to isolated, it is seen by us to merit serious action.

 

Bullying behaviour can take many forms:-

  1. Physical Aggression – pushing, shoving, punching, kicking etc.
  2. Damage to Property – books, school bags etc.
  3. Intimidation – aggressive body language (“look” – especially as facial expression which conveys aggression and/or dislike
  4. Abusive Telephone Calls -  abusive anonymous telephone calls are a form of verbal intimidation or bullying
  5. Isolation – when a certain person is deliberately isolated, excluded or ignored by some or all of the class group.  This can be accompanied by writing insulting remarks about the victim, on blackboards, notes, or even on websites e.g. Bebo, or by whispering insults about them loud enough to be heard.
  6. Name-Calling – persistent name-calling directed at the same individual(s) is regarded by us as a form of bullying behaviour.
  7. Slagging – This is usually part of the normal social interchange between people.  However when slagging extends to very personal remarks aimed again and again at the one individual about appearance, clothing, personal hygiene or uncomplimentary references to ones family, then it assumes the form of bullying.
  8. Bullying of School Personnel – Bullying of school personnel by means of physical assault, damage to property, verbal abuse, threats to peoples’ families etc.
  9. Teacher Behaviour – A teacher may, unwittingly or otherwise, engage in, instigate or reinforce bullying behaviour in a number of ways:-
  • Using sarcasm or other insulting or demeaning form of language when addressing pupils;  making negative comments about a pupil’s appearance or background
  • Humiliating directly or indirectly, a pupil who is particularly academically weak or outstanding, or vulnerable in other ways
  • Using any gesture or expression of a threatening or intimidatory nature, or any form of degrading physical contact or exercise;
  1.  Cyber Bullying  - See section further on.

As well as taking many forms, bullying can also take place in a wide variety of places:-

  1. School playground
  2. In class – through glances, looks, sniggers etc.
  3. Between classes
  4. The area immediately outside the school
  5. On the journey to and from school, whether the individual(s) is/are walking, on bicycles or on the school bus.

Cyber Bullying

Unfortunately, with the advent of new technology, the internet and the whole world of social media there is now a new type of bully to deal with – the cyber bully.

Cyber bullies can now persecute their victims through malicious writings, in and outside the classroom and at any time of day, through varied communications such as texts, forums and social networks.  These threats can be given a larger public audience and once online can remain forever.  Here are the practical ways of addressing cyber bullying in our school.

  1. Get the school community involved – by giving awareness to pupils, parents and teachers, cyber bullying can be brought out into the open.  Ideas can be discussed, set up at school and supported at home.  Guest speakers may be brought in to give their knowledge and views on the subject.
  2. Learn about E-safety – giving simple tips in SPHE classes e.g. revealing personal information.
  3. Consequences – make children aware of the consequences of cyber bullying e.g. possible garda intervention.
  4. Building self esteem – this helps to combat bullying and can be done many ways.

Indications of Bullying/Behaviour – Signs and Symptoms

The following signs/symptoms may suggest that a person is being bullied:-

  • Anxiety about travelling to and from school – requesting parents to drive or collect them, changing route of travel, avoiding regular times for travelling to and from school
  • Unwillingness to go to school, refusal to attend, mitching
  • Deterioration in educational performance, loss of concentration and loss of enthusiasm and interest in school
  • Pattern of physical illnesses (e.g. headaches, stomach aches);
  • Unexplained changes in mood or behaviour;  it may be particularly noticeable before returning to school after weekends or more especially after longer school holidays.
  • Visible signs of anxiety or distress – stammering, withdrawing, nightmares, difficulty in sleeping, crying, not eating, vomiting, bedwetting;
  • Spontaneous out-of-character comments about either pupils or teachers
  • Possessions missing or damaged
  • Increased requests for money or stealing money
  • Unexplained bruising or cuts or damaged clothing
  • Reluctance and/or refusal to say what is troubling him/her.

Those signs do not necessarily mean that a pupil is being bullied.  If repeated or occurring in combination those signs do warrant investigation in order to establish what is affecting the pupil.

 

Raising the Awareness of Bullying as a form of Unacceptable Behaviour:

This will be done mainly through the development of this code.  However the new curriculum provides many opportunities to stimulate discussion.  In English there is a wide range of literature available.  In S.P.H.E. the whole area of respect, self-esteem and their links to bullying will be covered, as will the inter-dependence of people in communities at local, national and international levels.  In S.E.S.E. references to colonisation and exploitation are used to illustrate the negative aspects of power.  Art, Drama, Religion and Physical Education also offer opportunities for similar type discussions.  Sporting activities, in particular, can provide excellent opportunities for channelling and learning how to control aggression.  Various health promotion programmes will be used to address the problem of bullying.  Co-operative games and circle time can also play a part.

 

Comprehensive Supervision and Monitoring Measures:

The Teaching  Staff of St. Mogue’s N.S. have a system in place under which all areas of school activity are kept under observation.  Yard supervision is done on a rota basis, by four school personnel.  All pupils but, in particular, senior pupils are seen as a resource in countering bullying, as they can report incidents and/or reason with those involved.  All non-teaching staff such as secretaries, care-takers and cleaners are encouraged to report any incident of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them to the Principal or other member of staff.

 

Procedures for Noting and Reporting an incident of Bullying Behaviour:

  1. 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.
  2. Serious cases of bullying behaviour by pupils should be referred immediately to the Principal or Vice-Principal.
  3. Parents or guardians of victims and bullies should be informed by the Principal or Vice-Principal earlier rather than later of incidents so that they are given the opportunity of discussing the matter.  They are then in a position to help and support their children before a crisis occurs.
  4. Parents/guardians are informed that it is to the school Principal that they can make their enquiries regarding incidents of bullying behaviour which they might suspect or that have come to their attention through their children or other parents/guardians.
  5. It should be made clear to all pupils that when the report incidents of bullying they are not telling tales but are behaving responsibly.
  6. Individual teachers in consultation with the school Principal should record and take appropriate measures regarding reports of bullying behaviour in accordance with the school’s policy and Code of Behaviour and Discipline.
  7. 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.
  8. Where cases, relating to either a pupil or a teacher remain unresolved at school level, the matter should be referred to the School’s Board of Management.
  9. In not solved at Board level, refer to local Inspectorate.

Procedures for Investigating and Dealing with Bullying:

When dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour, teachers take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach.  Such incidents are investigated outside the classroom and the teacher speaks separately to the pupils involved, in an attempt to get both sides of the story.  All interviews are conducted with sensitivity.  The following guidelines are followed:-

  1. Answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why are sought.
  2. If a “gang” is involved, each member is interviewed individually and then “the gang” is met as a group.  Each member is asked for his/her account of what happened, to ensure that everyone is clear about what everyone else has said.
  3. If it is concluded that pupil has engaged in bullying behaviour, it is made clear to him/her that he/she is in breach of the School’s Code of Behaviour and try to get him/her to see the situation from the victim’s point of view.
  4. When investigating cases of bullying behaviour, a teacher keeps a written record of his/her discussions with those involved.  Those involved may be asked to write down their account of the incident(s).
  5. In serious cases of bullying where the parents or guardians of the parties involved are being informed, the actions being taken and the reasons for them are explained clearly.  (Refer them to School Policy).

 

Programmes for Work with Victims, Bullies and their Peers:

Pupils who are low in self-esteem will have opportunities developed to increase their feelings of self-worth.  Pupils who engage in serious bullying behaviour may have counselling provided.  Their victims may have counselling provided and opportunities to participate in activities to develop their friendship and social skills if this is needed.  Class lessons will be taught, mainly in S.P.H.E. dealing with respect, self-esteem and the issue of bullying.

 

The procedures for referring individuals who need specific support from outside agencies e.g. NEPS, is dealt with in the School Learning Support Policy.

 

Home/School/Community Links:

The school as a community is made up of management, teachers, ancillary staff, parents and pupils.  However incidents of bullying behaviour extend beyond school.  Our policy embraces those members of the wider school community who come directly in daily contact with our pupils e.g. school bus driver, etc.  These people are encouraged to assist the school by reporting any form of bullying to the school authorities.  We will, where necessary, invite the assistance of other formal agencies such as doctors, health board workers and gardaí.

Evaluation of Policy:

The level and type of bullying behaviour, if any, that may be happening in the school is assessed regularly and action taken as a result of these findings.  Some of the more practical indicators of the success of the policy will be positive feedback from teachers, parents and pupils and observation of behaviour both within the school and out in the yard.

Roles and Responsibility:

The School Principal will co-ordinate and monitor the implementation of this policy.  Each class teacher has his/her own particular responsibility both in the classroom and out in the yard.  Pupils and parents are also responsible for observing and reporting any incidents of bullying and should be aware of measures which will be implemented if any such incidents occur. 

Review of Policy:

As already stated this policy will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and amended if necessary at the next staff meeting held in the school.