BULLY FREE POLICY
In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the Code of Behaviour Guidelines issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of St. Kilian’s SNS has adopted the following Anti-Bullying Policy within the framework of the school’s overall Code of Behaviour. This Policy fully complies with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and PostPrimary Schools which were published in September 2013.
The Board of Management recognises the very serious nature of bullying and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of pupils and is therefore fully committed to the following key principles of best practice in preventing and tackling bullying behaviour.
A positive school culture and climate which
- is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity
- encourages pupils and staff to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour in a non threatening environment and
- promotes respectful relationships across the school community
- effective leadership
- a school wide approach
- a shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact
- implementation of education and prevention strategies
- effective supervision and monitoring of pupils
- supports for staff
- consistent identification, recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour
- on-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy
In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, bullying is defined as unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical, by an individual or group against another person or group which is deliberately or maliciously repeated over time.
Bullying behaviour is often subtle and thrives in an atmosphere of uncertainty and secrecy in which the victim often feels a sense of hopelessness.
Bullying behaviour encompasses a wide range of negative behaviours/ including but not exclusive to:
Physical pushing, poking, tripping……
Verbal language and any form of communication which hurts insults or humiliates, including malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying
Emotional threats of persistent hurtful remarks regarding sensitive areas and identity
The term bullying should be discouraged as:
- it labels the perpetrator
- it labels the victim
- it covers a very broad range of behaviour
- the specific unwanted behaviour(s) should be named.
Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behaviour do not fall within the definition of bullying and should be dealt with as appropriate in accordance with the school’s Code of Conduct.
As part of our duty of care, staff of St. Kilian’s SNS has a responsibility to identify, record, investigate and deal with bullying behaviour that occurs during school hours.
Information relayed to staff regarding bullying behaviour outside of school hours should be brought to the attention of the parents/guardians of the victim. (The parent/teacher communication policy should be referenced).
Our school takes particular care to provide early intervention in responding to the needs, fears or anxieties of all involved in bullying behaviour in a fair, consistent and sensitive manner.
The AUP of St. Kilian’s SNS does not permit pupils to engage in any online communication during school hours without the direct permission or supervision of staff.
Given the age and stage of development of the pupils of our school, parents/guardians are responsible for their own child’s participation in online communication outside school.
We strongly advise parents to ensure that access to all online communication is suitable, supervised and closely monitored. Parents should proactively resolve any difficulties to ensure the provision of a safe and secure learning environment for our pupils in school.
St. Kilian’s SNS recognises the central role of the Parents’ Association to facilitate discussion, education and information for parents to help guide their child’s development and practice of the key skills required for positive online communication, interactive and proactive social skills.
The content of the SPHE Curriculum taught in our school will contain lessons on responsible social networking (Strand Unit – Safety and Protection).
The education and prevention strategies that are used in St. Kilian’s SNS are as follows:
- “difference” is not highlighted and uniqueness is accepted
- close monitoring of attendance and punctuality
- effective close supervision during the school day
- positive teacher/pupil relationship
- promotion of open communication and personal responsibility
- overt display and regular reminders of our Charter and Code of Conduct
- Mobile Phone Policy and Internet Use Policy
- Establishment of a Student Council annually with regular meetings
- Regular assemblies for year groups to promote positive practice, proactive and reactive social skills and acknowledge desired respectful behaviour
- Social skills group for pupils with individual special needs
- Effective and continual staff communication
- Planning meetings
- Yard book
- ‘Red Box’ system
- Staff Meetings
- Effective classroom management to include:
- Considered seating arrangements
- Rewards and sanctions
- Classroom ‘Golden’ Rules
- Effective yard supervision
- Red book
- Identification of potential issues
- ‘Follow up and follow through’ with pupils who break the rules in class and on yard
- Circle time, class discussion, drama to address issues which arise within a class
- Cultivation of positive communication with parents
- Regular reminders to parents of Policies and best practice through our monthly Newsletters and website
- Close working relationship with our Parents’ Association
The primary aim in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and restore as far as is practicable the relationships of parties involved (rather than to apportion blame). `
PROCEDURES FOR RECORDING, INVESTIGATION AND FOLLOW UP OF BULLYING BEHAVIOURS
Class teachers will maintain a behaviour log to:
- identify patterns
- establish fact
- collect evidence
- aid memory
- assess the situation with clarity
- plan and intervene appropriately
This log should be retained in the class ‘Red Box’ along with record sheets from the yard book for the duration of beginning 3rd class to end of 6th class. This log should include:
- any serious breaches of the Code of Conduct
- any incidents / complaints of groups involved in a he/she said incident
- any reports/complaints from a parent about bullying behaviour
Each entry must include date, names of those involved and action taken. The type of offensive behaviour must be named, e.g. slagging, taunting, physical violence.
- class teacher and SEN teacher, if applicable, will review this log at each mid-term (usually October, February and May)
- a copy of the log to be included in the central behaviour log and reviewed by the Principal following each mid-term (usually October, February and May)
- care meetings involving class teacher, SEN teacher and SNA, if appropriate, and Principal to discuss pupils of concern and decide and record a plan of action.
The central log should be available to all staff, kept with the yard book, accident book and sign out book and referenced in the Principal’s Report to the Board of Management at the end of each term (December, April, June).
Investigating and Dealing with Bullying:
- staff in St. Kilian’s SNS use the ‘No Blame’ approach to bullying whenever possible
- calm, unemotional, problem solving attitude
- incidents are best investigated outside of the classroom situation
- details of all stages should be recorded as appropriately in the behaviour log
- the process should be led by the class teacher of the child who is being bullied, in consultation with the relevant teachers of any other children involved
- the objective is resolution and the cultivation of understanding and empathy
- class teacher should speak separately to the pupils involved
- in the case of a group; the teacher should speak separately to each child and then as a group together
- a review dated to be set for the class teacher to check back with all parties on progress
- the class teacher may choose to begin dealing with the bullying behaviour at ‘Stage 2’ if malicious intent has been established, e.g. previous warnings issued or a statement of intent established
- the objective is to motivate the pupils to change their behaviour and elicit home support to ensure positive progress and to put in place a support plan
- class teacher should speak separately to the pupils involved
- in the case of a group, the teacher should speak separately to each child and then as a group together
- the class teacher should issue a sanction for the recurrent specifically named behaviour:
- copying of school rules or Charter
- letter of apology
- creation of behaviour contract
- withdrawal from yard
- withdrawal from privileges
- completion of behaviour reflection sheet
- a note of the negative behaviour and sanction to be put in the homework diary for parent to acknowledge
- a review date should be set for the class teacher to check back with all parties on progress
- the objective is to firmly demand a change of behaviour from the perpetrator(s) and their parent/guardian
- class teacher should speak separately to the pupils involved
- in the case of a group, the teacher should speak separately to each child and then as a group together
- the class teacher and Principal will arrange to meet separately with the parents of the child who is bullying and the parents of the child that is being bullied
The pupils may be required to attend part of these meetings.
- Parents of the pupil who is bullying will be informed that their child is in breach of the Code of Conduct and an official warning of suspension will be issued. This pupil’s behaviour will receive a comment from the class teacher in their school diary daily for a period of 15 consecutive school days and must be acknowledged by the parent. Any breaches of the Code of Conduct during this time will result in immediate suspension as detailed in the Code of Behaviour of St. Kilian’s SNS
- Both sets of parents will be invited to meet with the class teacher and Principal following the period of 15 consecutive days to agree a future plan of support to prevent any future bullying behaviour.
St. Kilian’s SNS programme for support for working with pupils affected by serious bullying is a follows:
- No blame approach
- Consistent review and check in
- Open communication between all staff
- Specific anti-bullying lessons in SPHE
- Appointment of a ‘buddy’, through the school council
The Board of Management confirms that appropriate supervision and monitoring policies and practices are in place to both prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to facilitate early intervention where possible
Prevention of Harassment:
The Board of Management confirms that the school will in accordance its obligation under equality legislation take all such steps that are reasonably practicable to prevent the sexual harassment of pupils and staff or the harassment of pupils or staff on any of the nine grounds specified, i.e. gender (including transgender), civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and member ship of the travelling community.
This Policy is available to school staff and parents in hard copy and has been published on the school website. A copy of the Policy will be made available to the Department and the Patron if requested.
This Policy is the result of the collaboration and dialogue of staff, parents and Board of Management during the school year 2013/14.
This Policy was ratified by the Board of Management on:
________________________ is effective from September 2014 and will be reviewed annually.
Written notification that the review has been completed will be published to staff and parents. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available if requested to the Patron and the Department.
Signed: ___________________________ Signed: ______________________
Date: ___________________________ Date: ______________________
What is Bullying?
Bullying can mean many different things. Bullying can take many forms, but its aim is always to make a person feel upset, intimidated or afraid.
These are some ways children and young people have described bullying:
- being called names
- being teased
- being pushed or pulled about
- being hit or attacked
- having your bag and other possessions taken and thrown around
- having rumours spread about you
- being ignored and left out
- being forced to hand over money or possessions
What does it feel like to be bullied?
Bullying hurts. It makes you scared and upset. It can make you so worried that you can’t work well at school. Some children have reported they have skipped school to get away from it. It can make you feel that you are no good, that there is something wrong with you. Bullies can make you feel that it’s your fault.
What do some people bully?
There are a lot of reasons whey some people bully. They may see it as a way of being popular, or making themselves look tough and in charge.
Some bullies do it to get attention or things, or to make other people afraid of them. Others might be jealous of the person they are bullying. They may be being bullied themselves.
Some bullies may not even understand how wrong their behaviour is and how it makes the person being bullied feels.
Why are some young people bullied?
Some young people are bullied for not particular reason, but sometimes it’s because they are different in some way – perhaps it’s the way the talk, their size or their name.
Sometimes young people are bullied because they look like they won’t stand up for themselves.
Signs of bullying:
One of the most terrible effects of bullying is that the victim will very often deny that it’s happening.
It’s important that you don’t put even more pressure on a child who may be bullied. Forcing someone to tell when they don’t want to can itself be a form of bullying. But there are certain signs to look out for if you have suspicions.
These can include:
- A change in behaviour, such as suffering a lack of concentration and/or becoming withdrawn, excessively clingy, depressed, fearful, emotionally up and down
- Afraid and anxious when going to or coming from school
- Happy at the weekend but not during the week. A drop in performance in school.
- Bingeing on food
- Unexplained bruises
- School performance steadily getting worse
- Being generally nervous, tense, unhappy
- Not explaining suspicious incidents
- Signs of being isolated from others of the same age
- Signs of regular interference with personal property, books, etc.
- Frequently asking for (or perhaps stealing) money
Although these can also indicate problems other than bullying, it’s important that you don’t ignore them. Try to encourage the child to talk about what’s going on, either to you or to another trusted adult.
How to approach the subject
- Broach the subject obliquely, giving the victim the option to talk about it or not
- Let them know that you are willing to listen at any time
- When they start to talk, listen carefully to what they have to say
- Once they begin to discuss the bullying, it may seem to be all they can talk about. Be patient and let them go on – it’s better for them to let it all out than to bottle it up
What to do next
- Don’t over-react – victims need rational advice and help, not emotional overload
- Believe the victim. No one should have to put with bullying
- Ask victims if they have any suggestions about changing the situation
- Contact the school as soon as your satisfied that the allegation is well founded
- Seek advice from and individual or a support group with experience in this area
If you’re being bullied what can you do?
Always remember – It’s not your fault! It’s the bully who has the problem, not you. Don’t put up with bullying. Ask for help.
- Believe in yourself. Don’t believe what the bully says of you. You know that’s not true
- Say ‘no’ emphatically, then walk away
- Check you your body language. Practise walking with confidence, standing straight with head held high and taking deep breaths
- Practice assertiveness. Stand tall, look the bully in the eye, breathe steadily, speak calmly and firmly. This can help you to feel stronger, and also makes you look more confident
- Don’t suffer in silence – talk to someone you trust. It always helps to share a problem and to know that you are not alone. In schools and clubs, adults in charge have to pay attention to any complaints you make about being bullied
- If an adult is bullying, then look for help from another adult you can trust. You have rights, and you must insist on them. There are rules and procedures to deal with adult bullies at home, in school, in sport clubs and where people work. If you are too nervous, take along a friend
- Choose when to resist. Sometimes the only sensible thing to do is to give in. just get away and tell someone
- Try not to use violence. It never solves anything, and usually just makes the situation worse
- Keep a diary. Keep a record of details – who, where, when, how – as this will make it easier for you when you tell your story
- Have an answer ready. Well chosen words can often make a bully look foolish, and that’s the last thing they want!
- Try not to show you are upset or angry (even if you are). Reacting to the bully in only giving them what they want
- If there’s a gang involved try to approach each person on their own, rather than when they’re together. If you talk straight to them, you’ll probably find that they’re not so confident without the protection of the group
- Ask you friends to support you. Bullies don’t like being outnumbered or isolated
- Try to make new friends if the ones you have at the moment seem to enjoy trying to make you feel bad
- Change your routine. Try to avoid being on your own in places where you are likely to be picked on.
Are you a bully?
- Have you ever hurt someone on purpose?
- Have you ever used your size or strength to win against someone weaker?
- Do you repeat rumours, even if you’re not sure they’re true?
- Have you ever tried to turn your friends against someone?
- Have you ever watched others bullying someone without doing anything to stop it?
- Have you ever used the excuse “I was only messing” when you knew you weren’t “only messing”?
Talking to someone always helps.
Choose a trusted friend or maybe one of the organisations listed in this booklet.
Remember that bullying is always wrong – feeling good shouldn’t mean having to make someone else feel bad.
What should I do if my child is being bullied?
- Discuss bullying openly and regularly
- Thank the child for disclosing the problem
- Listen carefully
- Get all the details
- Write down the details
- Take action
- Make appropriate changes
- Seek professional help if necessary
- Bring your information to the relevant authority
- Discuss bullying openly and regularly with your children – don’t wait for them to raise the issue
- Thank the child for disclosing the problem. Confidence is the first casualty of bullying, so let your child know you believe them and will support them. Tell them it’s not their fault
- Listen carefully. Don’t rush the story. Show you are concerned and sympathetic
- Get all the details – what, who, when, where, etc.
- Write down the details and check the information with your child. This will be important with your child. This will be important for any meetings which may come later
- Take action. Don’t wait to see if it all blows over
- Make appropriate changes that may help prevent your child being singled out and to build their confidence at the same time (e.g. new clothes, different hairstyle, etc.)
- Seek professional help if necessary (e.g. speech therapy, dental work, etc.)
- Bring your information to the relevant authority, and insist on getting an adequate response
How do I approach the School?
- Make an appointment
- Speak to the class teacher as soon as possible
- Don’t exaggerate. Be honest and stick to the facts as you understand them
- Use your notes to make sure you don’t forget to mention any important points
- Recognise that you may be upset when you speak to the teacher
- Accept that your child may not have told you all the facts, and that there may be another side to the story
- Ask for a copy of the school’s Policy on Bullying
- Find out what action the school intends to take
- Arrange for a follow-up meeting with the teacher to measure any improvement in the situation
- After the meeting, you may wish to make a note of what was agreed and send a copy to the teacher
- If you are not happy with the teacher’s response, make an appointment to see the Principal
- If you still feel dissatisfied having talked to the Principal, contact members of the Board of Management who are there to represent your interests. Remember to keep copies of all letters you send and receive
- If the problem persists, then you should consider moving your child to another class or even another school if this is possible
- You should consider carefully whether further aftercare is needed following a move to another class or school
How can I tell if my child is a bully?
Here are some indicators of bullying behaviour:
- a tendency to bully family members
- being a victim of bullying
- regularly witnessing bullying behaviour in their environment
- being frequently short-tempered and/or aggressive
- having past experiences which can still cause negative feelings
- bringing home items that you know weren’t bought
- speaking of others in a negative way, perhaps on the basis of their appearance or beliefs of social status
- showing an interest in violent behaviour
- showing little sensitivity towards others
- having low self esteem
- being the subject of previous complaints or suggestions of bullying behaviour
Although these can also indicate problems other than bullying, it’s important that you don’t ignore them. Try to encourage the child to talk about what’s going on, either to you or another trusted adult.
Directory of Support Services:
- Anti-Bullying Centre (01) 6082573
- CAB – Campaign Against Bullying (01) 2887976
- Childline Freephone 1800 666660
- Irish Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (01) 2300061
- ISPCC (01) 6794944
- The National Association for Parents Support (NAPS) (0502) 20598
- Parentline (Parents under Stress) (01) 8733500
- Samaritans (Callsave) 1850 609090
- Sticks and Stones Theatre Company (01) 2807065
- TrinityCollegeDublin – Anti-Bullying Research Centre (01) 6601011
- Victim Support 1800 661771
- Office for Internet Safety 1800 242595
The ‘No Blame’ Approach to Bullying:
The No Blame approach was developed by Barbara Maines and George Robinson in 1991.
Bullying is an interaction that establishes group identity, dominance and status at the expense of another. It is only by the development of higher values, such as empathy, consideration and unselfishness that the bully is likely to relinquish his/her behaviour and function differently in a social setting.
If the preventative policy depends upon policing the environment, forbidding the behaviour, encouraging the victim and punishing the perpetrators, then no lasting change can be expected.
“An approach which fails to engage the bully and makes no attempt to enhance the feelings of concern and understanding is unlikely to bring about any fundamental change in behaviour”.
Maines and Robinson 1991
What is the No Blame Approach?
- A seven step approach for dealing with bullying episodes that focuses on gaining a positive change in the behaviour of the bullies.
- It uses restorative justice methods to involve the bully in fixing the problem he/she has caused, with the support of a small group of peers.
- Research shows that following a No Blame intervention, the bullying stops immediately in 80% of cases.
What are the steps involved?
1. Interview the victim. Talk with the victim about their feelings, but do not question them about incidents directly. The victim is told that the bullies will not be in trouble, so there is not need to be worried bout them ‘getting him/her for it later’. The purpose of this interview is to reassure the victim that the problem can be solved and to find out:
Who are the main threatening figures, the ‘bullies’.
Who are present although they may not actively join in the bullying, the ‘bystanders’.
Who the victim finds supportive or, if he/she has no supporters, whom he/she would like to have as a friend.
2. Convene a meeting. Hold a meeting with the people involved, including any bystanders and colluders who joined in but did not initiate the bullying. A group of about 6/8 works well. The victim is not present.
3. Explain the problem. Tell the group how the victim is feeling, maybe use a poem or a piece of writing or a drawing to emphasise the victims distress. Teacher does not discuss the specific incidents or allocate blame.
4. Share responsibility. The teacher does not attribute the blame but states she knows the group is responsible and can do something about it.
5. Ask the group for their ideas. Each member of the group is encouraged to suggest a way in which the victim can be helped to feel happier. Teacher gives positive responses but does not ask the children for promise of improved behaviour.
6. Leave it up to the group. Finish the meeting by passing on the responsibility to the group to solve the problem. Arrange to meet them again to see how things are going.
7. Meet them individually. After a week meet with each student, including the victim to discuss how things are going. This allows the teacher to monitor the bullying and keeps the young people involved in the process.
Why it works:
Focuses on how the victim was feeling; focusing attention on feeling draws attention away from blame.
No one has to hide behind an untrue picture of what happened as no one is to be blamed for anything that has occurred.
Why is it popular?
It deals with potentially complex situations in a straightforward way.
There is no need for extensive and difficult investigations.
It brings about change easily, it is easy to use and quick.
Only useful for less serious cases of bullying.
It may be difficult to reward a decrease in behaviour, thinking that it is not right to reward a child for behaviour that is expected in other children.
To work, whole school must be committed to the method.
Parents need to be on board.
The No Blame Approach – Counter Arguments:
You are not seen to be taking strong action – what will parents, pupils, colleagues think?
A school that has a clear written Policy on its anti-bullying procedures is not likely to incur disapproval from the community.
Parents of victims may have feelings of anger but when they are reassured that something will be done they usually agree that the most important thing is to stop the bullying.
What do you do if there is a serious incident of violence?
When there is a serious assault on a pupil then the usual sanctions must be applied. This does not meant that the “no blame approach” cannot be tried as well since the particular incidence of violence would not be discussed. The issue addressed is the misery of the victim and how it might be alleviated.
Surely you need to know exactly what went on?
It is only necessary to know that bullying is happening and to have the names of the people involved. Any attempts to take accurate accounts about the events are likely to stir up further disputes and to waste a lot of time because the “truth” may be hard to find and may vary from one person’s perspective to another.
What if only one bully is involved?
It is very unusual that bullying takes place in real isolation. There is nearly always some knowledge and even consent from a group, even if they disapprove and refuse to join in. a peer group could be given the opportunity to help put things right even if they have not been directly involved in the bullying.
Affective questions can be very helpful as they allow you to address inappropriate behaviour in a way that asks students to think for themselves about their actions and to reflect on how they affect other people.
When Challenging Behaviour:
What were you thinking of at the time?
What have you thought about since?
Who has been affected by what you have done?
In what way have they been affected?
What do you think you need to do to make things right?
To help those affected:
What did you think when you realised what had happened?
What impact has this incident had on you and others?
What has been the hardest thing for you?
What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
Notice that “Why did you do that?” is absent from the list. Young people usually do not know whey they did something wrong. In all likelihood they were simply being thoughtless or impetuous, without any reason. And if they have to dig for a reason it often ends up being a rationalisation or justification. What is more effective is to foster a process of reflection by asking questions that will get the misbehaving students to think about their behaviour and how it impacted others.