St. Declan’s School – Anti-Bullying Policy (review March 2019)
1.1. This anti-bullying policy operates in conjunction with St. Declans Code of Behaviour and Child Protection and Safeguarding Statement, which is used to address isolated instances of anti-social behaviour.
1.2. The school has a central role in the children’s’ social moral development just as it does in their academic development. In school, we work towards standards of behaviour based on the basic principles of Being Responsible, Being Respectful, Being Honest, Being Safe, Being the Best You Can Be (see St. Declan’s Code). The individuality of each child needs to be accommodated while at the same time acknowledging the right of every child to education in a disruption free environment.
2. Aims of the Policy
2.1. To foster a school ethos of mutual and self-respect that encourages children to disclose and discuss incidents of bulling behaviour
2.2. To raise awareness with school management, teachers, SNAs, children and their parents that bullying is a form of unacceptable behaviour
2.3. To outline, promote and raise awareness of preventative approaches that can be used in response to reported incidences of bullying
2.4. To develop a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and for those involved in bullying behaviour
2.5. To outline procedures for noting, investigating and reporting instances of bullying behaviour
2.6. To implement a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and those involved in bulling behaviour
3. Definition of Bullying
3.1. The Department of Education and Science guidelines define bullying as:
3.2. ... repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical, 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. (Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour in Primary and Post-Primary Schools, 1993)
3.3. At our school, we understand that bullying is the systematic acts of overt and covert negative behaviour. Bullying results in untold pain and distress to its victims.
3.4. Bullying can be:
3.4.1. Emotional being unfriendly, excluding, tormenting (e.g. hiding books, threatening gestures)
3.4.2. Physical pushing, kicking, hitting, punching or any use of violence
3.4.3. Racist racial taunts, graffiti, gestures
3.4.4. Sexual unwanted physical contact or sexually abusive comments
3.4.5. Homophobic because of, or focusing on the issue of sexuality
3.4.6. Verbal name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, teasing
3.4.7. Cyber All areas of online activity, such as email & social media, gaming chats misuse
3.4.8. Mobile threats by text messaging & calls, misuse of associated technology, i.e. camera & video
4. The school acknowledges that there are three parties involved in bullying – those who bully, those who are bullied and those who witness the bullying. Staff and teachers bear this in mind when dealing with bullying incidences and try to support and work with all parties involved.
5. Indications of bullying:
5.1. doesn't want to go on the school / public bus
5.2. begs to be driven to school
5.3. changes their usual routine
5.4. is unwilling to go to school (school phobic)
5.5. begins to truant
5.6. becomes withdrawn anxious, or lacking in confidence
5.7. starts stammering or unable to describe incidents because too upset
5.8. attempts or threatens suicide or runs away
5.9. cries him/herself to sleep at night or has nightmares
5.10. feels ill in the morning
5.11. begins to do poorly in school work
5.12. comes home with clothes torn or books damaged
5.13. has possessions which are damaged or " go missing"
5.14. asks for money or starts stealing money (to pay bully)
5.15. has monies continually "lost"
5.16. has unexplained cuts or bruises
5.17. becomes aggressive, disruptive or unreasonable
5.18. is bullying other children or siblings
5.19. stops eating
5.20. is frightened to say what's wrong
5.21. gives improbable excuses for any of the above
5.22. is afraid to use the internet or mobile phone
5.23. is nervous & jumpy when a cyber message is received
It is important to note that these descriptors are used as a guide. They are also signs of a variety of problems (possibly relating to anxiety depression or other issues in the child’s life) as well as bullying.
6. Internet Safety & Cyber Bullying
6.1. This area of bullying and, more generally, internet use demands a dedicated section as children more and more likely to be exposed to negative online interactions. In the first instance, it is parents who have primary responsibility to keep their child safe online and to prevent such interactions. St. Declan’s School strongly recommends that children do not interact with other St. Declan’s pupils at home online. Parents are made aware of putting parental controls in place on all devices and the following advice is given at the parents meeting in September and regular reminders are sent as the need arises:
6.2. On the parents night in September the principal advises parents that children using social media amongst themselves can lead to online bullying and inappropriate interactions. I can only advise you, as parents and guardians, in this matter but would strongly make the case as it is my experience with online interactions have been highly problematic. It is not possible for the school to police and it is very tricky for you as parents to monitor. It leads to children being left out of chats, gossiping, inappropriate language, issues in school that have been resolved re-emerging. I include online gaming where children are able to make comments to each other. Many of the children have devices and smart phones and I would suggest that they are checked regularly and parental controls are enabled. Thanks for your cooperation with this.
7.1. To ensure that pupils, staff and parents understand what cyber bullying is and how it can be combated
7.2. To ensure that practices and procedures are agreed to prevent incidents of cyber-bullying
7.3. To ensure that reported incidents of cyber bullying are dealt with effectively and quickly.
8. Understanding Cyber-Bullying:
8.1. Cyber bullying is the use of ICT (usually a mobile phone and or the internet) to abuse another person
8.2. It can take place anywhere and involve many people
8.3. Anybody can be targeted including pupils and school staff
8.4. It can include threats, intimidation, harassment, cyber-stalking, vilification, defamation, exclusion, peer rejection, impersonation, unauthorized publication of private information or images etc.
8.5. While bullying involves a repetition of unwelcome behaviour the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, September 2013, states:
2.1.3. 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.
9. What is Cyber- Bullying?
There are many types of cyber-bullying. This list below is not exhaustive and the terms used continue to change. The more common types are:
9.1. Text messages – can be threatening or cause discomfort. Also, included here is ‘Bluejacking’ (the sending of anonymous text messages over short distances using bluetooth wireless technology)
9.2. Picture/video-clips via mobile phone cameras – images sent to others to make the victim feel threatened or embarrassed
9.3. Mobile phone calls – silent calls, abusive messages or stealing the victim‛s phone and using it to harass others, to make them believe the victim is responsible
9.4. Emails – threatening or bullying emails, often sent using a pseudonym or somebody else’s name
9.5. Chat room bullying – menacing or upsetting responses to children or young people when they are in a web-based chat room
9.6. Instant messaging (IM) – unpleasant messages sent while children conduct real-time conversations online using MSM (Microsoft Messenger), Yahoo Chat or similar tools
9.7. Bullying via websites – use of defamatory blogs (web logs), personal websites and online personal ‘own web space’ sites such as You Tube, Facebook, Ask.fm, Bebo (which works by signing on in one’s school, therefore making it easy to find a victim) and Myspace – although there are others. Explanation of slang terms used when referring to cyber-bullying activity:
9.8. ‘Flaming’: Online fights using electronic messages with angry and vulgar language
9.9. ‘Harassment’: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages
9.10. ‘Cyber Stalking’: Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating or engaging in other on-line activities that make a person afraid for his or her own safety
9.11. ‘Denigration’: ‘Dissing’ someone online. Sending or posting cruel gossip or rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships
9.12. ‘Impersonation’: Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material online that makes someone look bad, gets her/him in trouble or danger, or damages her/his reputation or friendships
9.13. ‘Outing and Trickery’: Tricking someone into revealing secret or embarrassing information which is then shared online
9.14. ‘Exclusion’: Intentionally excluding someone from an on-line group, like a ‘buddy list’
10. Procedures to prevent Cyber- Bullying:
10.1. Staff, pupils, parents and Board of Management (BoM) will be made aware of issues regarding cyber bullying through the use of appropriate awareness-raising exercises
10.2. Pupils will learn about cyber bullying and online dangers through Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE),
10.3. The school will engage a speaker to facilitate a workshop on Internet Safety for seniior classes. Classes will participate in the ‘Bullying in a Cyber World’ programme.
10.4. Staff CPD (Continuous Professional Development) will assist in learning about current technologies
10.5. Parents will be provided with information and advice on how to encourage internet safety
10.6. Pupils will sign an Acceptable Use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) contract (included in St. Declan’s Application Form)
10.7. Parents will be expected to sign an Acceptable Use of ICT contract prior to enrolment and to discuss its meaning with their children
10.8. Parents will be informed of incidents of cyber bullying involving children in St. Declan’s that come to our attention
10.9. Instances of cyber bullying that come to the attention of the St. Declan’s staff will be reported to the principal who will then pass the information on to the parents of the children involved
10.10. Procedures in our school Anti-bullying Policy shall apply
10.11. The Garda will be contacted in cases of actual or suspected illegal content
11. IMPORTANT NOTE: This Internet Safety & Cyber Bullying section of this policy will be reviewed annually. Pupils, parents and staff will be involved in reviewing and revising this policy and any related school procedure. Parents are welcome to inform the staff of the types of issues that the may be aware of that will help to inform and up-date this section (or any) section of this policy.
12. Child to Child Bullying
12.1. Unless the incident is of a very serious nature, it will be dealt with by the classroom teacher and the principal who will talk to the children involved. Teachers respect the need to support the self-esteem of each person involved in an incident. When a staff member becomes aware that a child is regularly involved in incidents he/she will start a record of such incidents. The purpose of this record is:
12.2.1. To aid memory by recording details of the incidents using the red-line bullying document
12.2.2. For clarity in assessment of the situation
12.2.3. For planning and intervention
12.3. Prior to a record of incidences being kept, parent(s) will be informed. Should the action taken at this stage prove not to have resolved the issue, the staff will proceed to stage two.
13. Stage Two
13.1. The Principal will arrange to [meet with] contact the parent/guardian(s) of the child who is seen to be bullying and separately with the parents of the victim of bullying. The children themselves may be required to attend part or all of these meetings. The child who is alleged to be bullying will be placed on report carefully monitored. This means that the child’s behaviour in all areas will be observed during the day. A dedicated SNA will be assigned to gather this information and write a diary of the pattern of behaviour and interactions. The teacher has the responsibility to monitor this the gathering of this information and to communicate it to the principal.
13.2. The child has meetings with his/her teacher/SNA and together they decide on what is to be written for that part of the day. All positive behaviour, progress on work etc will be noted. At the end of the day, the teacher/SNA writes his/her own comment. The purpose of this report to focus as much as possible on the positive qualities and efforts of the child, and to motivate the child to move away from negative behaviour. The child should be able to see that parents and school are working together in his/her interest, so the co-operation of the parents is essential.
13.3. Initially a review of the reports will be carried out on a weekly basis, in a meeting with the Principal, teacher, SNA parents and child. If progress is being made, longer intervals between meetings may be decided upon.
13.4. The child who is the victim of bullying will also meet be given opportunities to meet with the Principal, teacher and SNA. The Principal and teacher will meet with his/her parents to inform them of the incidents and what strategies are being put in place to safeguard their child from bulling behaviour. The aim of such a meeting(s) will be to address emotional needs and devise strategies for the child to deal with the bullying. This may involve reinforcing the parts of the SPHE programme being covered in class, or other strategies.
14. Stage 3
14.1. It is the duty of the school to provide a safe environment for all the children. Should the above interventions fail and the bullying continue, a programme of appropriate sanctions in accordance with the code of behaviour may be implemented by the Principal in consultation with the parents and Board of Management. The child who is bulling may be placed on in-school suspension and have to take separate breaks for a period of time. If a child is not responding to strategies that are being put in place and continues to bully this will result in a suspension being recommended to the board of management as per St. Declan’s Code of Behaviour section on suspension.
15. Bullying by Adults
15.1. In the case of intra-staff bullying, St. Declans will adopt the procedures outlined in Section C (c2) of the INTO booklet: ‘Working Together: Procedures and Policies for Positive Staff Relations’. A copy of this document is available for free download on the INTO website.
15.2. In the case of Teacher – Child bullying, a complaint should in the first instance be raised with the teacher in question by the parent/guardian of the child if possible and then if necessary referred to the Principal. Where it has not been possible to agree a framework for resolution, the matter should be referred in writing by both parties to the Board of Management for investigation.
15.3. In the case of Parent – Teacher bullying, the Principal should be informed in the first instance, and if deemed necessary the Board of Management should subsequently be informed in writing. The principal will meet with the parent and inform the board of management of the outcome. The chairperson of the board of management may request a meeting with the parent to discuss the incident(s)
15.4. In the case of Parent/Visitor to the school – Child bullying, the complaint should be referred in the first instance to the child’s class teacher and subsequently to the Principal if unresolved.
15.5. In the case of Principal – Parent/Child bullying, the matter should be raised with the Principal if possible, or referred to the Chairperson of the Board of Management.
Originally ratified by the BOM of St Declans School on 14th December 2010.
Initial review January 2019
Re-draft February 2019 (update brought to staff meeting/SNAs & Board of Management March 2019)
Review & ratified by Board of Management March 19th 2019
Signed: Brian Flannery Signed: Eoin Guidera