Anti Bullying Policy

This Anti-Bullying policy should be read in conjunction with the Behaviour and Santions policies.ard This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on Wednesday, 9th April, 2014 following a number of meetings: 

On Wednesday 5th February,2014 an information evening was held for parents and staff; on 17th February, a BoM meeting was held to discuss the review of the policy; on the 26th February and 26th March the anti-bullying policy was on the agenda of staff meetings; on the 3rd, 10th and 19th March, meetings of the anti-bullying committee were held (parents/ staff and BoM); on Tuesdays at class-level meetings in March 2014 - suitable procedures and tools for investigating bullying were identified and a programme for supporting the bullied and bully identified; 

School Position on Bullying

This document is primarily used for child to child peer interactions. Bullying between child/adult will be addressed within child protection protocols and procedures. Adult to adult interactions will be dealt with in existing employment legislation and procedures. 

The Scoil Mhuire Convent Primary school community believes that each pupil has a right to an education free from fear and intimidation. Student behaviour in the school is managed without fear or coercion. Professional codes of conduct for teachers require consistent implementation by each staff member (Codes are on the school website). Children are taught about their responsibilities and rights. People have rights. As individuals we have a responsibility to ensure other people’s rights are valued and respected by us.

Each person in Scoil Mhuire is expected to respect the integrity of the child’s family unit be it two parent, single parent, foster parent, grandparents or significant others. 

The school regards bullying as a serious infringement of individual rights and a serious threat to the self-esteem and self-confidence of targeted pupil(s).  Therefore it does not tolerate bullying of any kind.

Every report of bullying is treated seriously and dealt with, having due regard for the well being of the targeted pupil(s) and the perpetrator(s).

The immediate priority, should a bullying incident occur, is ending the bullying, (thereby protecting the person(s) being targeted) and resolving the issues and restoring the relationships involved insofar as is practicable using a ‘Reform, not Blame’ approach.

All pupils are expected to contribute to the creation and maintenance a safe environment in the school.  On becoming aware of any bullying situation, in or outside the school, involving members of the school community they should notify a trusted responsible adult.  Bullying behaviour is too serious not to report.

Pupils’ participation in school life in general is encouraged through existing school structures.  Awareness of bullying, and willingness to take action to prevent or stop it, is part of this participation.

 

Anti-Bullying  Policy

1.      In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behavior guidelines issued by the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB), the Board of Management of Scoil Mhuire Convent Primary School, Roscommon, has adopted the following anti-bullying policy within the framework of the school’s overall code of behavior.  This policy fully complies with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools which were published in September 2013.

2.      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 behavior:

  • A positive school culture and climate which:

-       is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity;

-       encourages pupils to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behavior 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 (including awareness raising measures) that:

-       Build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and

-       Explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying;

  • Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils;
  • Supports for staff;
  • Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behavior (including use of established intervention strategies); and
  • On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy

3.      In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools bullying is defined as follows:

Bullying is unwanted negative behavior, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.

The following types of behavior are included in the definition of bullying:

-       deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying,

-       cyber-bullying and

-       identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs.

Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behavior, including a once-off offensive or hurtful text message or other private messaging, do not fall within the definition of bullying and should be dealt with, as appropriate (depending on the severity), in accordance with the school’s code of behavior. 

However, in the context of this policy, placing a once-off offensive or hurtful public message, image or statement on a social network site or other public forum where that message, image or statement can be viewed and/or repeated by other people will be regarded as bullying behavior. As early as 1st class children will be taught the potential of harmful images or statements on a social network. 

Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.

This definition includes a wide range of behaviour, whether verbal or written, whether physical or social, whether targeting person or property, whether carried out directly or indirectly or through any electronic or other medium, which could harm a pupil or undermine her/his self-esteem or self-confidence. 

Appendix 1 gives a list of specific examples of bullying behaviour.  This list is not exhaustive. Appendix 2 has advice for parents and for pupils.

Additional information on different types of bullying is set out in Section 2 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.

4.      As this is a primary school the teacher investigating and dealing with child to child bullying in Scoil Mhuire will normally be the class teacher.’ (Procedures 6.8.3).

5.      The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-bullying and identity based bullying) used by the school are as follows:

  • The anti-bullying module of the SPHE programme as it applies during each school year,
  • At least five awareness-raising exercises per school year for each class group (2nd – 6th classes) pro-actively explaining the nature and variety, causes, consequences and unacceptability of bullying. A variety of approved programmes (including Seán Fallon's and Monica Monahan's programmes) will be explored March - June 2014 and a decision made on lessons to be taught at each level from September 2014. 

-        Pupils are helped to examine the issue of bullying in a calm rational, age appropriate manner, outside of the tense context of particular bullying incidents.  In the process they are made more aware of the nature of bullying and the various forms that it can take.

-        Pupils are made aware that the consequences of bullying behaviour are always bad for those who are targeted, even if this is not always obvious at the time.

-        Pupils are encouraged to recognise, reject and report bullying behaviour, either spontaneously or through questionnaires that are regularly used in the school.A variety of pupil/teacher conferencing tools that encourage children to talk about incidents of bullying, will be examined and piloted March - June 2014. Subsequently, teachers at each level will choose a tool for use at each class level from September 2014.  

Through presentations or other exercises, the school staff and parents/guardians are made aware of the nature of bullying and the signs that might indicate that a pupil is being bullied.  They are encouraged to be vigilant in watching out for signs of bullying and to report any suspicion of bullying they may have to the ‘Relevant Teacher’ (in the case of staff members) or any staff member (in the case of parents/guardians). 

6.      The school’s procedures for investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behaviour and the established intervention strategies used by the school for dealing with cases of bullying behaviour, are as follows:

  • Children are reminded that the school is a 'telling school'. Talking to adults about incidents of bullying are helpful to both the bully and the bullied. Children are encouraged to speak to their parents at home about everything that happens in school. 
  • The ‘Relevant Teacher’ (normally the class teacher) investigates all instances of reported or suspected bullying behaviour, whether these take place within the school or outside it, with a view to establishing the facts and bringing any such behaviour to an end.  
  • The School, through the ‘Relevant Teacher’ reserves the right to ask any pupil to write an account of what happened, as part of an investigation.  This will be a standard procedure and does not necessarily imply that a pupil is guilty of misbehaviour.
  • Pupils who are alleged to have been involved in bullying behaviour are interviewed by the ‘Relevant Teacher’ to establish the nature and extent of the behaviour and any reasons for it.  In the event that they have been involved in bullying behaviour they are asked to sign a binding promise that they will treat all pupils fairly, equally and respectfully including the targeted pupil(s).
  • The 'Relevant Teacher’ does not apportion blame but rather treats bullying behaviour as a ‘mistake’ that can and must be remedied.  S/he emphasises that the intention is not to punish perpetrators but to talk to them, to explain how harmful and hurtful bullying is and to seek a promise that it will stop.  If that promise is forthcoming and is honoured there will be no penalty and that will be the end of the matter.  Pupils who report bullying therefore are not getting others ‘in trouble’ so much as enabling them to get out of trouble into which they may ultimately get if the bullying continued.
  • When an investigation is completed and/or a bullying situation is resolved the 'Relevant Teacher' will complete a report, to include the findings of the investigation, the strategy adopted and the outcome of the intervention, as well as any other relevant information.
  • If a pupil has signed such a promise but then chooses to break that promise and continue the bullying behaviour, this can then no longer be considered a ‘mistake.’  In this event parent(s)/guardian(s) will be informed and requested to countersign their daughter/son’s promise. Breach of this additional promise by further bullying behaviour is regarded as a very grave matter and a serious sanction may be imposed by the school authorities (See sanctions below).The parents of the bullied child will also be informed. A meeting will be arranged for the relevant teacher and principal to speak to the parents of the bullied child and the school's programme for supporting pupils who have been bullied discussed. A plan of action will be decided. 
  • All documentation regarding bullying incidents and their resolution is retained securely in the school until the children involved reach 21 years of age (nine years after the pupil leaves 6th class). 
  • Sanctions:

Where a pupil has been found to be engaged in bullying behaviour, has formally promised to stop and has broken that promise, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:

-       S/he may be required to sign another promise, this time countersigned by a parent/guardian;

-       Parent(s)/guardian(s) may be contacted by the ‘Relevant Teacher’ and informed of the nature and extent of the bullying behaviour with a view to agreeing a strategy whereby a promise to end the bullying behaviour would be honoured;

-       Parent(s)/guardian(s) may be invited to a meeting with the ‘Relevant Teacher’ and the Principal and the pupil may be suspended from school. 

-       The case may be referred to the Board of Management and the pupil may be expelled from the school.

7.      The school’s programme of support for working with pupils (this is an area identified for attention in the 2013 - 2014 school year as such a programme has not been in place) affected by bullying is as follows:

  • Bullied pupils:

-     Ending the bullying behaviour,

-     Ensuring the school culture fosters respect for bullied pupils and all pupils,

-     Ensuring the school culture fosters empathy  towards and support for bullied pupils,

-     Indicating clearly that the bullying is not the fault of the targeted pupil through the awareness-raising programme,

-     Indicating clearly that the bullying is not the fault of the targeted pupil through the speedy identification of those responsible and speedy resolution of bullying situations,

-     Making adequate counselling facilities within the school available to pupils who need it in a timely manner and/or arrange a referral to an appropriate external agency. 

-     Helping bullied pupils raise their self-esteem by encouraging them to become involved in activities that help develop friendships and social skills (e.g. participation in group work in class and in extra-curricular group or team activities during or after school).

Bullying pupils:

-     Making it clear that bullying pupils who reform are not blamed or punished and get a ‘clean sheet,’

-     Making it clear that bullying pupils who reform are doing the right and honorable thing and giving them praise for this,

-     Making adequate counseling facilities available to help those who need it learn other ways of meeting their needs besides violating the rights of others,

-     Helping those who need to raise their self-esteem by encouraging them to become involved in activities that develop friendships and social skills (e.g. participation in group work in class and in extra-curricular group or team activities during or after school),

-     Using learning strategies throughout the school and the curriculum to help enhance pupils’ feelings of self-worth,

-     In dealing with negative behavior in general, encouraging teachers and parents to focus on, challenge and correct the behaviour while supporting the child,

-     In dealing with bullying behaviour seeking resolution and offering a fresh start with a ‘clean sheet’ and no blame in return for keeping a promise to reform.

8.      Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils:

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.

9.      The Board of Management confirms that the school will, in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all such steps as are reasonably practicable to prevent the harassment of pupils or staff on any of the nine grounds specified i.e. gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.

 

10.   This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on ___/___/______ [date].

 

11.   This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills and to the patron if requested.All parents/guardians of children being inducted into the school are made aware of the anti-bullying policy. Parents are asked to sign that they are aware of all school policies and support the staff in their efforts to provide a positive learning experience for the children in the school. Parents will be asked to sign this promise of support at the May meetings of new entrants. 

12.  This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year.  Written notification that the review has been completed will be made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association.Parents/guardians will also receive an SMS or written notification of changes to the anti-bullying polidy. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills and to the patron if requested.

 

Signed: _______________________________         Signed: ______________________________

            (Chairperson of Board of Management)                                (Principal)

 

Date: ___/___/______                                                Date: ___/___/______

 

 

Date of next review: ___/___/______

 

Appendix 1.

Bullying can take a number of forms. These may include any of the following (this list is not exhaustive):

      Repeated aggressive behaviour/attitude/body language, for example:

Shouting and uncontrolled anger

Personal insults

Verbal abuse

Offensive language directed at an individual,

Continually shouting or dismissing others

Public verbal attacks/criticism

Domineering behaviour

Open aggression

Offensive gestures and unwanted physical contact 

 

Intimidation, either physical, psychological or emotional, for example:

Treating in a dictatorial manner

Ridicule

Persistent slagging

Deliberate staring with the intent to discomfort

Persistent rudeness in behaviour and attitude toward a particular individual

Asking inappropriate questions/making inappropriate comments re. personal life/family

Asking inappropriate questions/making inappropriate comments re. social life or schoolwork

 

Interference with property, for example:

Stealing/damaging books or equipment

Stealing/damaging clothing or other property

Demanding money with menaces

Persistently moving, hiding or interfering with property

Marking/defacing property

 

Undermining/Public or Private Humiliation, for example:

Condescending tone

Deliberately withholding significant information and resources

Writing of anonymous notes

Malicious, disparaging or demeaning comments

Malicious tricks/derogatory joke,

Knowingly spreading rumours

Belittling others’ efforts, their enthusiasm or their new idea,

Derogatory or offensive nicknames (name-calling)

Using electronic or other media for any of the above (cyber bullying,

Disrespectfully mimicking a particular individual in his/her absence

Deliberately refusing to address issues focusing instead on the person

 

Ostracising or isolating, for example:

Deliberately marginalising an individual

Deliberately preventing a person from joining a group

Deliberately preventing from joining in an activity, schoolwork-related or recreational

Blaming a pupil for things s/he did not do

 

Appendix 2

Combating Bullying and the Action towards Prevention:

Role of staff

  • The principal and staff exercise constant vigilance in the matter of misbehaviour. Our aim is to prevent misbehaviour rather than control. Positive behaviour is always recognised, affirmed and sought. 
  • Any complaints of bullying are dealt with quickly, firmly and fairly following the procedures in the Anti-Bullying Policy
  • Awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour is addressed in the classroom, at school assemblies, through the school policy on pastoral care and other informal occasions when the opportunity arises. 
  • Pupils are taught skills and encouraged to report any incident of bullying. 

Advice for Pupils

  • 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 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 away confidently. Go straight to a teacher or member of staff.
  • Fighting back makes things worse– So don’t fight back. REPORT to a teacher or parent(s)/guardians instead. If you need support find a friend and both of you speak to the teacher.
  • 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:
 
 
·         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.
·         If you feel you cannot get involved, tell an adult IMMEDIATELY. Teachers have ways of dealing with the bully without getting you into trouble.
·         Do not be, or pretend to be, friends with a bully.
 
 
 Advice for Parents
  • 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, ask for money or begin stealing money.
  • Always take an active role in your child’s education by enquiring how they are getting on.
  • 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.
  • It is important to advise your child not to fight back. It can make matters worse.
  • Tell your child there is nothing wrong with him/her. It is not her fault that they are being bullied.
  • Make sure your child is fully aware of the School Policy concerning Bullying, and that they will not be afraid to ask for help.