HARTSTOWN COMMUNITY SCHOOL – PREVENTION OF BULLYING POLICY
* September 2017
Hartstown Community School aims to provide a secure and safe teaching, learning and working environment for all members of our school community. We recognise that each of us are individual and unique and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of our cultural, religious, ethnic, sexual or gender identity. We aim to create an environment for all members of our school community which fosters and promotes personal development and positive self-esteem. We aim to foster resilience in our students which will empower them to meet challenges they may encounter in their lives. In this environment each person is encouraged to realise fully their potential in the social, moral, cultural, academic and professional realms. The contribution of each person is unique, important and welcomed.
Bullying is any form of repeated action or words intended to cause anguish discomfort or hurt in any form to others.
- It can be carried out by and individual but also by a group
- It can be subtle and therefore difficult for others to recognise
- The victim is often perceived as vulnerable in some way
- The person who bullies is perceived as being in a position of power
Bullying can take many forms
- It can include physical, verbal, emotional, racist, homophobic or sexual abuse
- It can use exclusion, gestures, humiliation or threats
- It can take the form of cyber bullying by phone or via the internet
- It is always threatening for the victim.
- It is always personal
- The person who bullies has his/her own issues which need to be addressed
- Bullying can happen in many contexts: between management and staff (teaching and ancillary), between staff and staff, between staff and pupils, between pupils and pupils.
- It can take the form of sexual harassment of teachers by management or management by teachers, of teachers by pupils or pupils by teachers, of teachers/workers by other teachers/workers, of pupils by pupils.
Bullying is never acceptable. Bullying thrives in a climate of fear and secrecy. Positive anti-bullying strategies help us to break the code of silence.
Our code of behaviour is based on respect
- Respect for self
- Respect for others
- Respect for diversity
Any member of the school community who excludes, threatens, intimidates or hurts another person in any way disrespects this code.
As a school community
- We believe that all partners in education, parents, teaching staff, ancillary staff, management and students share responsibility for creating and maintaining a safe school.
- Informed by our school code of respect, we as management, teachers/workers, parents and students commit to maintaining a respectful attitude in our communication and relationships with each other.
- We continually raise awareness of bullying and its effects and reinforce our policy on bullying in S.P.H.E. classes, at assemblies and in tutorials for students, and at parents nights.
- We encourage students to educate each other about the dangers of bullying. Through our peer mentoring initiative the Student Council deliver a student designed programme Coping with Cyber Bullying to junior classes.
- We encourage students to reject bullying behaviour in their own social groups and to recognise and challenge those who engage in bullying behaviour. We encourage them to report bullying of themselves or others by creating a supportive school atmosphere.
- In all our formal and informal interactions with students, but explicitly in our Wellbeing programme we seek to foster self-confidence and resilience in our students which will enable them to face challenges they may encounter in life.
- We supervise and monitor students in out of class time as far as is practicable.
- We commit to the protection of our students from anti-social, negative or intimidating behaviour.
- We commit to being alert for bullying behaviour and to be vigilant for “out of character” behaviour shown by students which could be indicative of bullying.
- We commit to speaking to and treating our students with respect and courtesy and will expect our students to speak to and treat their teachers with respect and courtesy also.
- We will not accept actions or words which have a destructive or hurtful influence on our students or which interfere with other student’s rights.
- We commit to making ourselves available as possible for our students should they wish to approach us to talk about a bullying incident or pattern of behaviour.
What parents should be alert for
- Signs of distress, change in sleeping patterns, anxiety, unexplained illness, reluctance to go to school, change in route to school, change in friends, changes in patterns of behaviour
- Unexplained bruises or scratches or damage to clothes, books or property
- Any increases in demands for money or money “lost”
What parents should do
- Find out whatever facts you can-name, places, witnesses etc.
- If friends are also being bullied consider contacting other parents
- Advise your child to report the incident and if they do not wish to inform the school yourself
- Contact your child’s tutor or year-head if you have any concerns
- Support your child in implementing strategies to challenge bullying behaviour such as remaining calm and confident in a challenging situation, walking away, and saying “I don’t want to”. Practice/roleplay these strategies with your child and encourage them to implement them. Do not encourage them to retaliate.
What students should do
- Tell a trusted adult about the bullying. Do not keep silent. Remember bullying thrives on secrecy
- Your parent/guardian, teachers, tutor, year-head, deputy principals, principal, school counsellors and the chaplain are all available to you. If you are uncomfortable telling an adult on your own ask a friend to accompany you or to tell the adult for you.
- Provide as many details as you can about the incidents including times, places, dates, circumstances and names. Include the names of any witnesses
- Tell a trusted adult if you witness bullying of another students.
Our policy on the investigation of a bullying incident
Reporting bullying is the first step to solving the problem and enables the school to take steps to resolve the issue. Bullying can manifest itself in many different forms and different situations will require different responses. All investigations will be carried out discreetly and sensitively. They will normally be carried out by the year-head. The primary aim in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve the issue and as far as practicable restore the relationships of the parties involved.
Following and investigation when the facts are established
- Parents of both parties will be informed
- A commitment will be sought from the person who has bullied to stop hurting the victim
- Sanctions may be imposed depending on the severity of the incidents
- Immediate suspension may be imposed for a once off incident of violence. However each case will be considered individually
- For a very serious incident the pupil may be suspended and reported to the Board of Management. At the Board’s discretion an expulsion may result.
- In some cases it may be appropriate to refer the matter to an external agency or authority
- We will endeavour to bring the person who had bullied to an understanding or the effect his/her behaviour has had on others
- The person who had bullied may be required to attend counselling in school or with an outside agency
- Where appropriate the victim will be offered counselling within the school and taught strategies to enable them to challenge bullying behaviour.
- Records will be kept on file
It is expected that most incidents of bullying will be resolved following these steps
Monitoring the aftermath of a bullying incident
The Year-Head, tutor and teachers will continue to monitor both parties, the bully and the victim, and discuss with both how they are coping and if the situation has been resolved.
If bullying recurs the parents/guardians of the person who has bullied will be invited into school for a meeting.
A more severe sanction may be imposed.
This policy is implemented in conjunction with the following school policies:
The Charter of Behaviour
Health and Safety Policy
Acceptable Use of ICT Policy
Data Protection Policy
This policy was informed by the anti-bullying procedures for Primary and Post Primary school and by Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children July 2011