Anti Bullying Policy

Introduction.

This policy was formulated through consultation with all staff members in an in-service setting. This policy works in conjunction with the Discipline Policy, Code of Behaviour, S.P.H.E, Substance Abuse, Child Protection Policy, Walk Tall Programme, Circle Time and Stand on my Own Two Feet Programme.

Rationale

This policy defines bullying as behaviour that repeatedly and in a continued manner, by a group or an individual, threatens others in an aggressive, verbal, psychological or through physical means. It is deemed necessary that staff, students and parents combine efforts to understand the nature of bullying, the issues involved and to create a policy that will eliminate this unacceptable behaviour from our school setting.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School

Scoil Eoin is a special needs school that caters for students with mild learning difficulties and behavioural problems. The school’s ethos “to learn to love, to live”, inherently promotes inclusion, equality and respect for all members of the Scoil Eoin community and in this light deems bullying behaviour to be counterproductive to the environment the school ethos poses to create.

Aims

The primary objective of this policy is to eliminate bullying behaviour from our school community because of the detrimental effects it has on the school community and the quality of education being offered to students. The following aims outline the principals that will direct and inform the action taken by the school in its endeavour to succeed on this issue.

This policy therefore aims to:

  • Create greater awareness for all members of our school community including students, parents and members of staff on the definition of bullying behaviour and its related issues.
  • Put in place a consistent approach that will allow staff to intervene and prevent bullying wherever it may occur within the school setting.
  • Develop procedures for noting and reporting incidents of bullying behaviour.
  • Develop procedures for investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour.
  • Enable parents and staff to identify and assist victims of bullying behaviour
  • Provide a predictable and secure environment which by its nature will thwart bullying behaviour.
  • Use student friendly tools to educate students on the consequences of bullying behaviour both for the aggressor and the victim.
  • Provide a stable and secure learning environment which promotes equality and acceptance for all members of the school community.

Guidelines

It is important to note that the anti-bullying policy is underwritten by the school ethos and the school discipline policy. This policy aims to prevent bullying not just to control it. To this end all members of the school community must support the guidelines on dealing with and ultimately preventing bullying behaviour. It is acknowledged that there must be room within the policy for trial and review on the effectiveness of the procedures proposed to deal with bullying behaviour.

Bullying behaviour effects the whole school community therefore it has implications for all those involved. It is important to realise the teachers and special needs assistants can influence the attitudes to bullying behaviour in a positive manner through a range of curricular initiatives both formally and informally in the classroom. It is also important that teachers and parents feel that there is an open line of communication between both parties and also that parents are empowered to aid the school staff in identifying bullying behaviour and preventing it within the school setting. Students also need to feel that they are supported and protected from bullying behaviour as well as educated to identify bullying behaviour in themselves and in those around them.

It is in light of these considerations that staff must adhere to a uniformed approach in noting, reporting and disciplining bullying behaviour as well as the consequences of such behaviour for the bully and the victim. It is also important to encourage non-teaching staff to report any incidents of bullying witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to teaching staff.

Repeated Behaviours considered being of a Bullying nature

It is important at this time to specifically identify types of behaviour that are to be considered of a bullying nature. It is also important to recognise that isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, which should not be condoned, can scarcely be described as bullying, it is only bullying when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing. These isolated behaviours will be dealt with under the broader school Discipline Policy.

Physical Aggression

This includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, poking, and tripping people up. It may take the form of severe physical assault. More prominent among boys can be disguised as mess fighting.

Damage to property

This includes damage to clothing, school books and other learning material. It may also result with the contents of school bags and pencil cases being scattered on the floor. Items of personal property may be defaced, broken, stolen or hidden.

Extortion

Demands for money may be made often accompanied by threats.

Intimidation

This involves very aggressive body language with the voice being used as a weapon. Particularly upsetting for students is use of the so called look that communicated aggression or dislike.

Telephone calls and text messaging

This can take the form of anonymous telephone calls or text messaging and is a form of verbal intimidation.

Isolation

This involves the deliberate isolation of an individual by members of their class or friendship group. This practice is usually initiated by the person engaged in the bullying behaviour. It can be accompanied by writing insulting remarks or whispering insults loud enough to be heard by the victim. More prevalent among girls.

Name Calling

Persistent name calling directed at the same individual which hurts, insults or humiliates should be regarded as a form of bullying behaviour.

Slagging

This behaviour usually refers to the good natured banter which goes on as part of the normal social interchange between people. However, when this slagging extends to very personal remarks aimed again and again at the one individual about appearance, clothing, personal hygiene or involves references of an uncomplimentary nature to members of ones family, particularly if couched in sexual innuendo, then it assumes the form of bullying.

Bullying of School Personnel

Bullying of school personnel by means of physical assault, damage to property, verbal abuse, threats to peoples families etc.

Staff Behaviour

Staff may unwittingly or otherwise engage in, instigate or reinforce bullying behaviour in a number of ways. These include; using sarcasm or other insulting or demeaning form of language when addressing pupils; making negative comments about a students appearance or background or humiliating directly or indirectly a student who is particularly academically weak or outstanding. Using any gesture or expression in a threatening or intimidatory nature.

It is vital to the success of this policy that staff be aware of their own behaviour as students will often cue their own responses based on what they see as accepted practice from staff.

Guidelines for noting and reporting bullying behaviour

Classroom

Teachers keep written records of behavioural offences that concern them. Notes need to be made on:

  • Nature of incident
  • Initial action taken
  • Result of action
  • Whether behaviour is repeated
  • Dates of incidents
  • Whether behaviour progresses or diminishes

In Yard

Teachers note incidents in yard book to be reviewed by Principal / Deputy Principal.

Buses

Bus escorts report incidents to Principal / Deputy Principal.

Procedures for Disciplining Bullying Behaviour

  1. Scoil / Coláiste Eoin promotes an ethos of immediate intervention by the relevant teacher. The relevant teacher explains the seriousness of the situation to bully and supports the victim. Teacher may discipline the bully by applying one of the following strategies by using their professionalism to determine the appropriate method of intervention depending on the seriousness of the bullying incident. 
  • Bully must acknowledge offence and offer an apology to the victim.
  • miss yard time
  • miss Computer time
  • miss Library time
  • miss trips out
  • miss Friday afternoon treat time
  • extra Homework
  • detention
  • phone call to parents 
  • meeting with parents
  • suspension
  • expulsion
  1. Send to Principal / Deputy Principal/ Assistant Principal who request parents to attend meeting in school to discuss situation. Parents to be informed that bully will be refused to return to class unless a contract to address behaviour is agreed and complied with. Students may also have to serve a series of detentions to drive home seriousness of situation.

If behaviour is continued following this then action to be taken at Principal / Deputy Principal’s discretion in consultation with class teacher and Appendix 3 to be completed.

Success Criteria

It is the aim of this policy that teaching and learning will be improved because teachers and other staff members are placed in an informed position to deal with the issues of bullying. This policy will also make a difference to the effective organisation of the school because it will support individuals as well as creating a positive team atmosphere for staff where all parties are informed and feel empowered to confront issues of bullying effectively. It will also empower parents and students and increase confidence that such issues will be dealt with seriously and with the aim of eliminating bullying behaviour as unacceptable behaviour from the school community.

Success will be based on the policies effectiveness in;

  • Modifying and eliminating bullying behaviour
  • Students understanding of the issues, what is deemed unacceptable and the knowledge of the consequences of engaging in such behaviour.
  • The ability to effectively support victims of bullying.
  • Whether all staff are confident about their role in the policy and the commitment to implement policy procedures.

Roles and Responsibilities

There are four key areas of development that need to be taken on board in order to effectively support and implement this policy. They include;

  1. The development of a teaching pack with student friendly tools that will aid teachers in educating students on the issues of bullying and the consequences of engaging in such behaviour.
  2. The development of uniformed discipline that outline how teachers can note and report bullying both in the classroom and in the yard.
  3. The development of a parent support pack to raise awareness of the issues of bullying and how parents can support school policy on bullying.

Delegation of above development roles to be advised

Timeframe for Implementation

Immediately following the completion of support packs.

Timeframe for Review

Three months from completion of all elements of policy and support packs.

Responsibility for Review

It is deemed the responsibility of all staff, Deputy Principal and Principal in consultation with parents to access the success of this policy.

Ratification and Communication

Ratification and Communication is the responsibility of the Board of Management.

Update to our Anti-Bullying Policy as outline by Department of Education & Skills 2013

February 2014

The purpose of these procedures is to give direction and guidance to school authorities and school personnel of Scoil/Coláiste Eoin in preventing and tackling school based bullying behaviour amongst its pupils and in dealing with any negative impact within school of bullying behaviour that occurs elsewhere.

These procedures are replacing the 1993 Guidelines on countering Bullying Behaviour in Primary and Post Primary schools.

Scoil / Coláiste Eoin is complying with and implementing the Action Plan on Bullying / Report of the Anti-Bullying Working Group to the Minister of Education and Skills, which was published in 2013.

The Board of Management of Scoil/Coláiste Eoin is involved in implementing, writing up and ratifying the necessary arrangements for developing and formally adopting an Anti- Bullying Policy which fully complies with the requirements of these procedures.

This updated Anti-Bullying Policy will be made available to all school personnel, parents and pupils published on the school website and if requested, a copy will be provided to the Department and the Patron.

The main aims of this Anti- Bullying Policy are as follows:

  • To create a positive school culture and climate, that is inclusive and welcoming of difference.
  • To create a school climate which is open, supportive and encourages pupils to discuss and disclose bullying behaviour.
  • To raise awareness among the entire school community, that bullying is not acceptable or tolerated.
  • To ensure comprehensive supervision and monitoring through which all aspects of school activity are kept under observation.
  • To provide procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying behaviour.
  • To provide procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour.
  • To develop a programme of 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 facilitate ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the schools Anti-Bullying Policy.

The Definition and Types of Bullying

Definition of bullying

In the context of these procedures, bullying is defined as unwanted negative behaviour, 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 bullying behaviour are included in this non-exhaustive definition:

(i) deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying;

(ii) cyber-bullying; and

(iii) 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.

 In addition, in the context of these procedures 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 behaviour.

Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behaviour including a once-off offensive or hurtful text message or other private messaging do not fall within this definition of bullying and should be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour. A single incident can have a serious effect on a pupil and may also constitute harassment which is legally prohibited in schools under equality legislation. Harassment is any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the nine discriminatory grounds (gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community).

 Types of bullying

The following are some of the types of bullying behaviour that can occur amongst pupils:

Physical aggression: This behaviour includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, poking and tripping people.

Intimidation: Some bullying behaviour takes the form of intimidation: it may be based on the use of very aggressive body language.

 Isolation/exclusion and other relational bullying: This occurs where a certain person is deliberately isolated, excluded or ignored by some or all of the class group.

Cyber-bullying: This type of bullying is increasingly common and is continuously evolving. It is bullying carried out through the use of information and communication technologies such as text, social network sites, e-mail, instant messaging (IM), apps, gaming sites, chat-rooms and other online technologies.

Being the target of inappropriate or hurtful messages is the most common form of online bullying. As cyber-bullying uses technology to perpetrate bullying behaviour and does not require face to face contact, cyber-bullying can occur at any time (day or night). Many forms of bullying can be facilitated through cyber-bullying. Parents and students are advised that it is illegal for a child under the age of 13 to register with and use many Social Media Networks including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Pupil mobile phones are not allowed in Scoil Eoin Primary. In Coláiste Eoin, all mobile phones must be handed up to the class teacher in the morning and are locked away until returned at home time.

Name calling: Persistent name-calling directed at the same individual(s) which hurts, insults or humiliates should be regarded as a form of bullying behaviour.

Damage to property: Personal property can be the focus of attention for bullying behaviour. This may result in damage to clothing, mobile phone or other devices, school books and other learning material.

 Extortion: Demands for money may be made, often accompanied by threats (sometimes carried out in the event of the targeted pupil not delivering on the demand). A pupil may also be forced into theft of property for delivery to another who is engaged in bullying behaviour.

Scoil / Coláiste Eoin will endeavour to operate its Anti- Bullying Policy by implementing 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 to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour in a non threatening environment.
  • promotes respectful relationships across the school community.
  • Effective Leadership plays a key role in promoting and developing an Anti- Bullying ethos in the school. The Principal, Deputy Principal, Teachers, SNA’s , Ancillary Staff , Parents and Board of Management should strive to engender an ethos under which bullying is unacceptable. All staff should act as good role models and not misuse their authority. They should be fair, firm, clear and consistent in their disciplinary measures.
  • A School-Wide Approach involving all adults working in the school environment is a key element of effective practice to deal with the problem of bullying behaviour. Scoil / Coláiste Eoin will always endeavour to promote a high degree of school-wide vigilance and openness in ensuring that bullying behaviour can be adequately tackled. The promotion of relevant home / school / community links is important in regard to countering bullying behaviour. The majority of pupils in Scoil / Coláiste Eoin avail of school transport and bullying behaviour can often occur on the journey to and / or from school. School bus drivers & bus escorts are encouraged to play a positive role in assisting our school to counter bullying behaviour by reporting such behaviour to parents and / or to the school as appropriate. In serious cases, it may be necessary for Scoil / Coláiste Eoin to seek the assistance of other local persons and formal agencies such as NEPS, HSE – TUSLA social workers, community workers, Gardaí etc.
  • A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact. All members of the school community must be aware of what the definition of bullying is and what constitutes bullying behaviour as outlined on pages 3 and 4 of our Anti-Bullying Policy.
  • Implementation of education and prevention strategies, including awareness raising measures that;
  • build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils.
  • explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity based bullying, including in particular, homophobic bullying.

The above mentioned in point 5 will be implemented through the following educational mediums and pedagogies:

  • S.P.H.E.
  • R.S.E.
  • Walk Tall Programme
  • Circle Time
  • Social Education
  • C.S.P.E.
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Religious Education
  • Physical Education
  • Create a culture of telling an adult
  • Display Anti-Bullying Statement
  • Anti- Bullying Awareness Week
  • Formal teaching within class setting
  • Friendship / Act of Kindness Week
  • Guest speakers to talk on the effects of Bullying
  • Disciplinary Review 1, 2, & 3.

The school will remind parents of the dangers of Cyber Bullying as can happen with the use of Social Network Sites and mobile phones. Parents will be made aware of the schools Internet Acceptable Use Policy ( AUP). The school cannot be responsible for disagreements between pupils that happen outside the school grounds, but will make reasonable efforts to co-operate with parents in assisting them to resolve the issue.

Prevention and awareness raising measures will also deal with cyber bullying through educating pupils on appropriate online behaviour, how to stay safe while on-line and also developing a culture of reporting any concerns about cyber bullying. Scoil/Coláiste Eoin has an Internet Policy in place which complies with Department of Education and Skills Guidelines.

  • Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils. It is the responsibility of all staff in Scoil / Coláiste Eoin to assist with and ensure that there is constant supervision and monitoring of pupils at all times in the classrooms, bathrooms, yard, trips out, sports etc., The identification of “Hot Spots” /“ Hot Times” i.e.  – movement between classes, bathroom times, coming to and from yard, lining up for buses, walking up and down the stairs & on the bus. It is very beneficial in preventing and dealing with bullying in school. All staff members must be very vigilant and ensure that supervision is constant.  
  • Supports for staff. The Board of Management and school management must ensure that all staff recognise bullying, are aware of how to implement strategies for preventing bullying and the effective reporting and follow up procedures of a bullying incident.
  • Consistent recording – Scoil / Coláiste Eoin will follow a clear and consistent approach to dealing with bullying. Each class teacher and SNA has a responsibility to observe, monitor, report and follow up on bullying incidents. However , the Principal, Deputy Principal and teachers with specific management roles may have to be involved in some bullying incidents.

Procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying.

  • The primary aim for the relevant teacher is to resolve any issues and to resolve the relationships of the parties involved, rather than to apportion blame.
  • The teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine if bullying has occurred and how best the situation may be resolved.
  • All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. Confidentiality is of vital importance.
  • Non teaching staff i.e. SNA’s, Secretaries, Bus Escorts, Caretakers & Cleaners must be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
  • Parents and pupils are required to co-operate with any investigation and to assist the school in resolving issues as quickly as possible.
  • Teachers should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents.
  • When at all possible, incidents are best investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all.  
  • All interviews/investigations should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils involved.
  • When analysing incidents, the relevant teacher should seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This should be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing effectively with conflict resolution in a non – aggressive manner.
  • If a group is involved, each member should be interviewed, individually at first. Thereafter, pupils should be met as a group, where each member is asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure clarity amongst the pupils.
  • All the pupils must be supported through the possible pressures and outcomes that may face them from the other members of the group after interview by the teacher.
  • It may also be appropriate to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident (s).
  • In cases where the relevant teacher has identified that bullying behaviour has occurred the parents of the parties involved will be contacted / requested  to attend a meeting in the school to inform them of the matter and explain the actions been taken by reference to the school policy. It must be made clear to parents and pupils how he/she is in breach of the schools Anti- Bullying Policy and efforts will be made to try to get him/her to see the situation from the prospective of the pupil been bullied.
  • Where disciplinary sanctions are required, it will be made clear to all involved that this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined , his/her parents and the school.
  • In cases where the relevant teacher considers that the bullying behaviour has not been resolved within 20 school days after her/she has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, it must be recorded by the relevant teacher in the recording template (Appendix 3). and a copy needs to be provided to the Principal / Deputy Principal as applicable. However the relevant teacher is not precluded in  any way from consulting with the Principal / Deputy Principal at any stage.

Procedures for Recording Bullying Behaviour

The Board of Management and all staff of Scoil/ Coláiste Eoin must be familiar with clear procedures for the formal noting and reporting of bully behaviour as documented in the schools Anti-Bullying Policy. All records will be maintained in accordance with relevant data protection legislation.

  1. All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying, will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. The relevant teacher will use his/ her professional judgement in relation to the records to be kept of these reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same. 
  2. The relevant teacher may complete a serious offence report sheet if deemed necessary.
  • The relevant teacher must use the recording template (Appendix 3), as already noted above, to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances:
  1. In cases where the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days.
  2. where the school has decided that in certain circumstances, bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal / Deputy Principal.
  3. In cases where Scoil / Coláiste Eoin has serious concerns in relation to managing behaviour of a pupil that has escalated beyond bullying, to serious physical or sexual assault / harassment, the advice of National Education Psychological Service ( N.E.P.S.), Gardaí, or TUSLA should be sought.
  4. Serious incidents of bullying behaviour should, in accordance with Children First and the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, be referred to the H.S.E. Children and Family Services – TUSLA and / or Gardaí as appropriate.
  5. Where school personnel have concerns about a child, but are not sure whether to report the matter to the H.S.E. – TUSLA , the Designated Liaison Person  (D.L.P.) / Deputy Designated Liaison Person (D.D.L.P.) must seek advice from TUSLA ( Child and Family Services).

Supports for Pupils affected by Bullying

  1. Scoil / Coláiste Eoin will support any pupil who has been bullied. Some pupils may require counselling, individual teacher talk time, opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop friendship and their social skills and thereby build resilience whenever this is needed.
  2. Pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance and support on an ongoing basis. All staff in Scoil / Coláiste Eoin will endeavour to raise their low self esteem and increase their feeling of self worth. Through various pedagogies pupils who engage in bullying may need counselling to help them learn new strategies of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others.
  3. All pupils in the school who may observe incidents of bullying behaviour, are encouraged to discuss them with teachers.

Periodic Summary Report to the Board of Management

The Principal of Scoil / Coláiste Eoin, in accordance with recommendations will provide a report to the BOM at least once every school term. This report will include:

  1. The overall number of bullying cases reported by means of Appendix 3.
  2. Confirmation that all cases referred to at (1) have been or are being, dealt with in accordance with the schools Anti – Bullying Policy.

The minutes of the BOM meeting will record the above but will not include any identifying details of the pupils involved.

Annual Review by the Board of Management

  • The BOM of Scoil / Coláiste Eoin will undertake an annual review of the schools Anti – Bullying Policy.
  • Appendix 4 checklist will be completed by the BOM every year.
  • The school and BOM will address any areas for improvement identified by the review.
  • The BOM will confirm to school personnel and publish on the school website that this notification has been completed.

Ratified by the Board of Management

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