Introductory Statement

This policy has been formulated by the staff of Scoil Chiaráin, in consultation with parents, pupils and the Board of Management.  The original policy was drawn up in 1994 following the publication of Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour from the Department of Education.  This current revision is prepared in line with the format provided by the School Development Planning Support initiative.

 

Rationale

The existing policy is due for review and amendment.  Bullying continues to be a concern for all members of the school community.

The role of the school is to provide the highest possible standard of education for all our pupils.  A stable secure learning environment is an essential requirement to achieve this goal.   Bullying behaviour, by its very nature, undermines and dilutes the quality of education and imposes psychological damage.  As such, it is an issue which must be positively and firmly addressed through a range of school-based measures and strategies through which all members of the school community are enabled to act effectively in dealing with this behaviour.

 

Relationship to the Characteristic Spirit of the school

Scoil Chiaráin is a special school where the principles of equality, participation and respect for all members of the school community is valued.  We seek to foster a caring and secure environment where all students needs are considered and protected.

 

Aims

  • (see Code of Behaviour)
  • To raise awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour within the school community
  • To create a school ethos which encourages children to recognise, disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour
  • To develop procedures for investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour

 

Policy Content

The Anti Bullying policy should be seen as part of the Code of Behaviour of Scoil Chiaráin and is based on having and showing respect for all members of the school community.  Where incidents of bullying occur, it is important that all members of the school community recognise the problem and take effective steps to deal with both the bully and the victim.  This can best be achieved by all members of the school community working together in a consistent manner to discourage bullying and praise good behaviour.

 

Definition of Bullying?

Bullying is repeated aggressive behaviour of a verbal, physical or emotional nature conducted by an individual or group against others.

Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, which should not be condoned, can scarcely be described as bullying.  However, when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing it is bullying.

Bullying can be harmful, painful, distressing and frightening.  All types of bullying are damaging and quite often difficult to detect (particularly verbal and emotional) due to the secrecy on which it often relies.  In most cases of bullying the victim is too frightened to tell.  The most successful bullies are those who can keep their victims quiet by threatening or humiliating them.

Parents, teachers and children all have a part to play in ensuring that those around us can live a life free from bullying and any kind of victimisation. There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to bullying.

 

Types of Bullying

Bullying can be

(a)  Physical:

  • Hitting, pushing, shoving, pinching, tripping, etc
  • Interference with a child’s possessions, eg. Money, lunch, books or clothes.

(b)  Verbal:

  • Name-calling, hurtful insulting or humiliating remarks about a child’s appearance, ability, family, race or religion, etc.

(c)  Emotional:

  • Deliberate exclusion or isolation.
  • Intimidation of a non-verbal or non-physical nature.

 

How would you know if a child is being bullied?

The following may be indications that a child is being bullied.  However, many of the ‘signs’ of bullying can also be ‘signs’ of other difficulties a child may be having.  No one sign on its own should be seen as an absolute proof that bullying has occurred.  It is important to investigate unexplained changes in a child’s behaviour.

 

If a child is being bullied, s/he may:

  • Be unusually anxious, nervous or tense.
  • Develop sleeping problems e.g. Nightmares, bed-wetting, sleeplessness.
  • Develop eating problems.
  • Have unexplained bruises, scratches, etc.
  • Come to school/home regularly with books, clothes or other possessions damaged or missing.
  • Constantly ask for or steal money (to pay a bully).
  • Begin to bully others.
  • Become reluctant to go to school, to go out to play, to travel on the school bus or to continue with their other usual activities.
  • Begin to do poorly at school.
  • Become isolated or withdrawn.
  • Become anxious or evasive when asked if he/she has a problem or make excuses for any of the above.

 

What can parents do if you suspect a child is being bullied?

Ask:

It is difficult for children to tell, so it is important to ask children about bullying.

Listen:

Listen to what the child tells you.

 

Talk:

Talk with the child and let him/her know that it is right to tell you if there is a problem.  Help the child to understand that bullying is wrong and that the victim is never to blame when bullying takes place.

 

Acknowledge:

If the child feel that he/she is being bullied, acknowledge this.  Discuss the problem and how it might be resolved.  Don’t agree to keep the secret but encourage a proactive response.

 

Get Help

  • Identify the places where the bullying happens.  If the bullying is school related, talk to the teachers and SNAs in the class/area.  It may also help to talk to the parents of those concerned.  If the bullying is related to a club or activity the child attends, talk to the leaders and/or parents.
  • Explain to the child what has been happening.  Listen to how he/she feels.
  • Discuss how you might work together to stop bullying.
  • Enlist the help of friends to act as a support for the child.
  • Talk to the other parents if possible and discuss with them how to work to support each other and the other children involved.
  • Parents can help to prevent bullying by listening to and talking to children and by praising a child for all their achievements and building up self-esteem.

 

What can teachers and SNAs do if you suspect a child is being bullied?

As with parents, it is important to investigate and follow the steps outlined for parents.  It is important generally to make children aware of what bullying is and to encourage a culture of co-operation which will identify bullying behaviour when it happens.  It is important for all children to learn that they have a right to say “No” and to tell of any situation that is uncomfortable or threatening.

 

General Strategies:

  • Building self-esteem among individuals and within groups by celebrating individual differences, achievements, acknowledging and rewarding good behaviour and manners and providing opportunities for success throughout the curriculum.
  • Fostering good communication in school by modelling good listening skills, encouraging active listening and participation.
  • Helping children to develop empathy by discussing feelings and trying to put themselves in place of others in role-play situations.
  • By developing a relationship with students based on mutual regards, respect and trust so that students have confidence in school staff.

 

Anti Bullying Strategies:

  • Introducing the Stay Safe programme at appropriate levels to discuss, identify and agree class/school strategies for dealing with incidents of unacceptable behaviour including bullying.
  • Circle time to give opportunities to children to discuss problems and feelings.
  • Staff members to investigate reports/suspicions of bullying and to address the issue directly with students involved in bullying (as outlined in Code of Behaviour sanctions).
  • To address the victims needs by discussing strategies for keeping safe, telling an adult of concerns and role-playing situations where the victim can practice strategies for confronting/standing up to a bully e.g. Telling someone to stop, to go away, to leave them alone – saying they’ll tell an adult, etc.
  • Putting the issue on the agenda for area assemblies and highlighting how everyone can help when they witness bullying behaviour.
  • Clear and consistent application of sanctions when bullying occurs as laid out for inappropriate behaviour in the Code of Behaviour.
  • A referral to Art Therapy may be helpful to a child who has a difficulty as either a bully or a victim.  Some children find it difficult to verbalise their problems and this strategy may help the child to explore and recognise their problem in a safe and supported way.

 

Most children, with a little help, overcome this problem very quickly.

 

Why do children bully?

There are many reasons why a child may bully.  It may happen as a response to something else in a child’s life, e.g. change in family circumstances, bereavement, illness or difficulties adjusting to a new/unfamiliar situation.

Children who bully often have been bullied themselves.  Some bullies suffer from a lack of self-confidence and have a low self-esteem.  Some may be attention seekers, trying to impress others by bullying behaviour.  Children who are under pressure to succeed at all costs may try to bully their way to success.  Some children may be used to getting their own way at home by harassing others constantly and find that this strategy works for them.  As teachers and SNAs we need to be aware of this and to do all we can to help build the bully’s self-esteem and try to eliminate the need to bully.

It is important when dealing with bullying behaviour not to exhibit bullying behaviour ourselves by shouting or threatening children.  We should talk to the child and try to find out if there is a problem.  We should also let the child know that their behaviour is unacceptable and explain how the victim feels.  It is helpful to get the child to try to understand the victim’s point of view.  Parents should be contacted and together with teachers and SNAs should work together to encourage a change of behaviour.

 

Success Criteria

The practical indicators of implementing the policy should be an improvement in the general behaviour and atmosphere in the school.  By dealing with the issue, if and when it arises, it should help children to feel secure and so allow effective teaching and learning to take place.  The success of this policy will also be noticeable in the classrooms, areas and yards where children can play and interact openly and safely.

 

Roles and Responsibilities

See Roles and Responsibilities in Code of Behaviour policy document.

 

Implementation

The Anti Bullying policy is already implemented and is regularly reviewed by the staff and the BOM to ensure it supports the school community.

 

Timetable for Review

This review will take place in February 2012 and will involve staff, the BOM and the parents policy committee.

 

Ratification & Communication

The BOM will has ratified the policy statement following the review in January ‘09.  The policy statement will be circulated to all staff members and parents notified through the school newsletter.  Copies will be available on request and the document will continue to be included in the enrolment pack for new parents.  Parents are encouraged to read the document before accepting a place for their child in Scoil Chiaráin and to sign an undertaking that they will support the policy to their child.

January 2009

 

 

Anti-Bullying Policy

Students’ Version

 

Introduction

We have an anti-bullying policy in our school.  This means we do not want to have bullying here.  We want our school to be a safe place, where everyone feels welcome and happy.  All staff members encourage everyone to be nice to one another, to share, to listen and to help anyone who needs help.

 

We want to:

Make sure everyone knows about bullying and that we don’t like this behaviour

Have a school where people tell an adult if anyone hurts them in any way or makes them feel uncomfortable or sad.

Make sure that anyone who is unkind to others learns not to do this again.

 

What is Bullying?

Bullying is repeated aggressive or hurtful behaviour against an individual or group of students.  It is something that is repeated a number of times and makes people very unhappy.

 

There are different types of bullying behaviour:

Verbal – when we slag or tease others and use words to hurt their feelings

Physical – when we punch or kick or hurt someone physically

Non-verbal – when we don’t speak but use hand or finger actions to frighten someone.

Exclusion – when we won’t let someone join in our games and activities.

Extortion – when we make people give us their things

E-bullying – using text messages to frighten or upset someone.

 

What should we do if we are bullied or see someone else being bullied?

  • We should always tell an adult.  We are a “telling school” where everyone is asked to tell an adult if you are hurt or unhappy.
  • If you are on your own, you should try to get out of the situation and get help.
  • You should tell the bully to STOP.

 

What will the adults do?

  • They will talk with the bully and explain why his/her behaviour is wrong
  • They will listen to you and try to help you
  • They will keep an eye out for any more bad behaviour
  • They may bring in parents to discuss this with them
  • The bully may be in serious trouble for their behaviour

 

What can all the students do?

  • Tell an adult if you see bad behaviour
  • Help your friends to tell an adult
  • Invite others to join in your activities – don’t leave anyone out
  • Don’t be a bully yourself.

 

How can we make this an anti-bullying school?

We can all help by joining in class activities and area lessons about bullying.  We can look for one another and be a good friend to our classmates.  We can try to treat other people the way we would like them to treat us.  If we speak nicely, listen to one another, share with others and welcome people to join our games, we can all get along really well in our school.

 

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