HARTSTOWN COMMUNITY SCHOOL – PREVENTION OF BULLYING POLICY
* May 2014
Hartstown Community School aims to provide a secure and safe teaching and learning environment for all members of our school community. This will be done in a spirit of tolerance which recognises that each one of us is individual and unique and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
We aim to create an environment, for all members of our school community, where we can foster and promote personal development and positive self-esteem; where we can help each other to realise fully our potential, whether it be social, moral, cultural, academic and professional.
Our individual differences enrich and enhance our immediate environment and each person’s contribution is important and is welcome.
Bullying is any form of repeated action or words intended to cause anguish, discomfort, or hurt in any form, to others.
• In its simplest form it may be devoid of malicious intent.
• It can be done by an individual, but also by a group.
• It can be subtle and therefore difficult for the adults in charge to recognise.
• The victim is often seen as vulnerable in some way.
• The person who bullies is seen as being in a position of power.
Bullying can take many forms
• It can include physical, verbal, intellectual, racist or sexual abuse.
• It can use exclusion, gestures, humiliation, threats etc.
• It can take the form of cyber bullying by phone, internet or other electronic device.
• It is always threatening for the victim.
• It is always personal.
• The person who bullies has his/her own problems which need addressing.
• The person who bullies can be an adult.
• Though bullying occurs mostly between pupils we must also be aware that it can happen in many contexts: between management and staff (teaching and ancillary), between staff members, between staff members and pupils.
• It can take the form of sexual harassment of teachers by pupils or of pupils by teachers.
• Bullying behaviour of any kind is never acceptable.
Bullying thrives in a climate of fear and secrecy. Positive anti-bullying strategies enable us to break the code of silence.
Our code of behaviour is based on respect.
• RESPECT FOR SELF
• RESPECT FOR OTHERS
• RESPECT FOR OPENNESS
• RESPECT FOR PROPERTY
A member of the school community, who excludes, threatens, intimidates or hurts another person in any way disrespects this code.
• We aim to be alert for victims of bullying. We will be vigilant for ‘out of character’ behaviour.
• We aim to protect students and challenge anti-social, negative, or intimidating behaviour.
• We will not accept actions or words which have a destructive influence, or which interfere with other students’ rights in any way.
• We aim to be aware of the hurt and anger which teachers can cause to pupils and which pupils can cause to teachers by sarcasm, personal remarks, unnecessary negative comments and unfair treatment.
• We aim to make ourselves as available as possible for any student who may need to approach us to talk about bullying related incidents.
• All partners in education, parents, staff and students share responsibility for creating a safe school. Students will be supervised and monitored during unstructured time as far as is practicable. We will be aware of and assist in the reporting and prevention of bullying.
• The topic of bullying is addressed in Pastoral Care and other classes.
• Pupils should not to tolerate bullying behaviour in their social group. Recognising and challenging those who engage in bullying behaviour is a great deterrent.
• Bullying, in all forms is regularly addressed in assemblies, at tutorial, at parent evenings and through classroom interventions involving the student council.
REPORTING BULLYING BEHAVIOUR
What parents should watch for:
• Signs of distress, sleeplessness, anxiety, unexplained illness, reluctance to go to school, change in route to school, changes in friends, changes in patterns of behaviour.
• Unexplained bruises or scratches or damage to clothes, books, or property.
• Any increase in demands for money or money “lost”.
What parents should do:
• Find out whatever facts you can – names, places, witnesses, circumstances.
• If friends are also being bullied contact other parents.
• Advise your son / daughter to report the incident and if they do not want to then inform the school yourself.
• Communicate with the tutor or year head should you have any concerns about your son/daughter
• Help your son/daughter to work out strategies for challenging bullying behaviour like looking confident, walking away, saying “I don’t want to” and practice these with your son / daughter. Do not encourage them to retaliate.
What students should do:
• If you experience bullying, you should tell a trusted adult. This may be a parent or guardian, a teacher, the class tutor, the year head, the deputy principals or the principal. If you are unwilling or unable to tell an adult on your own, you should ask a friend to go with you or to tell the adult for you.
• Give as many details as possible re times, places, circumstances and the names of any possible witnesses.
• Report any incidents you may come across where you believe another student is being subject to behaviour which he/she does not appear to welcome.
INVESTIGATING AN INCIDENT
Reporting bullying is the first step in solving the problem. Different problems require different responses. All incidents will be investigated discreetly and sensitively. The investigation will normally be carried out by the year-head or another designated member of staff. The primary aim in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and to restore as for as is practicable the relationships of the parties involved.
When the facts are established:
• We will endeavour to have the person who bullies understand the effect his/her actions and behaviour are having on others.
• A commitment will be asked from the person who bullies to stop hurting the victim.
• Where appropriate, the victim will be taught strategies to enable him/her to challenge bullying behaviour.
• Parents of both parties will be informed.
• Sanctions may be imposed depending on what has happened.
• Records will be kept on file.
• In some cases, it may be appropriate to refer the matter to an external agency or authority.
• The person who bullies may be required to attend counselling in school or with an outside agency.
We expect that most incidents of bullying will be resolved at this stage.
MONITORING THE AFTERMATH
• Teachers will talk to the victim and to the person who bullies to find out how both parties are coping.
• If bullying recurs, the parents of the person who bullies will be invited into the school for a meeting.
• A more severe sanction may be imposed.
• Immediate suspension may be imposed for a once off incident of violence. Each case will be considered individually.
• If the incident is particularly serious the pupil may be suspended and reported to the Board of Management. At the Board’s discretion, an expulsion may result.
Bullying should not be confused with inter-personal conflicts in the workplace, management responsibilities, or industrial relations difficulties.
This policy was informed by the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools and by Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (July 2011).