Anti-Bullying Policy

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Mission Statement:

In Elphin Community College, we aim to promote an atmosphere of openness, honesty and respect for all in order to create and maintain a pleasant and safe working and learning environment. Bullying behaviour will not be tolerated and all incidents will be investigated fairly and promptly.

Rationale:

The purpose of this policy is to protect all members of our school community from being bullied and to ensure that effective remedial steps are taken where bullying arises.

In September 1993, the Department of Education and Science issued Guidelines on countering bullying behaviour in Primary and Post Primary schools. The Guidelines say that

“The role of the school is to provide the highest possible standard of education for all of its students. A stable, secure learning environment is an essential requirement to achieve this. Bullying behaviour, by its very nature, undermines and dilutes the quality of education and may cause psychological damage. The effects of bullying can be devastating. As such it is an issue that must be positively and firmly addressed through a range of school-based measures and strategies. These measures are designed to ensure as far as possible that bullying does not take place and to enable all members of the school community to act effectively in dealing with bullying behaviour where it occurs.”

This policy is further informed by the Education Act, 1998; the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000; the Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2004 and the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post-Primary Schools.

Scope of policy.

This policy addresses bullying behaviour, harassment and sexual harassment.

The scope of this policy extends to all relationships within the school, i.e. student to student, student to staff & staff to student.

This policy applies to:

  • school time (including break times)
  • going to and from school
  • school tours/trips
  • extra-curricular activities

Definition.

Bullying is repeated aggression conducted by an individual or a group against others – such aggressive behaviour may be verbal, psychological, physical, racial, sexual or relational. Although isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour do not constitute bullying they will not be condoned and will be subject to the normal disciplinary sanctions. This policy deals with repeated and systematic behaviour which is offensive and potentially harmful to others. For the purposes of this policy the term bullying also encompasses harassment and sexual harassment. Harassment is any form of unwanted conduct in relation to any of the nine grounds named in equality legislation that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for the victim. Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for the victim.

The nine grounds are gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion and membership of the Traveller community.

Types of behaviour involved.

The means of bullying are constantly changing and the following list of types of bullying behaviour may be expanded in the light of the experience of the school community:

  • Physical aggression
  • Damage to property
  • Extortion
  • Intimidation
  • Gestures
  • Silent telephone/mobile phone calls
  • Abusive telephone/mobile phone calls
  • Abusive text messages
  • Abusive email/website messages
  • The production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials aimed at intimidating another person
  • Isolation & exclusion
  • Harassment based on any of the nine grounds in the equality legislation e.g. sexual harassment, homophobic bullying, racist bullying etc.
  • Name calling
  • Slagging
  • Sarcasm
  • Public humiliation
  • Deliberate disruption of class
  • A combination of any of the types listed

The school does not accept that any of these behaviours can be properly described as “only messing”

Rights & Responsibilities.

Students and staff have a right to work and learn in a safe environment free from harassment and intimidation. Parents have a right to be sure their children are safe from bullying while in school. Bullying is wrong and will not be tolerated.  All concerned have a responsibility to respect and uphold the rights of others. In particular everyone has a responsibility to report bullying behaviour when they become aware of it.

Preventative Measures.

The school will work proactively to ensure as far as it can that bullying does not take place. Bullying can be prevented by raising awareness of all in the school community about the reality of bullying and of its detrimental effects. In order to prevent bullying the school uses a number of strategies:

  • Whole school agreement about policy & procedures to be followed when bullying is reported.
  • An anti-bullying curriculum will be taught to all 1st year students early in the school year.
  • A curriculum to deal with relational/girl bullying will be taught following staff training.
  • Parent Awareness Programme.
  • Anti- bullying Awareness/ Friendship Week annually.
  • Regular confidential questionnaire to be followed up within 2 weeks.
  • Comment box
  • Mentoring system.
  • Informing new staff, students & parents about policy & procedures.
  • Induction form for all new students & parents on 1st Year induction day.
  • On-going teacher training in the management of bullying behaviour.
  • Curricular areas offer opportunities to address issues relating to respect, justice and fair play.
  • The school seeks to promote a positive, open school climate at all times.
  • The school seeks opportunities to enhance the self-worth of all its students.
  • The school provides a wide range of extra-curricular activities that are open to students.
  • The school has developed leaflets for parents and students on bullying – they are available on request.

Procedures for telling.

 

 It is of the utmost importance that students tell if they are being bullied in school or if they know of another student who is being bullied

  • Students are assured that all incidents of bullying will be dealt with confidentially, within the Child Protection Guidelines. Only those who need to know will be informed & every effort will be made to ensure the safety of a student reporting bullying.
  • Students may report bullying to any teacher with whom they feel comfortable, by direct approach at an appropriate time, by handing up a note with homework, by phoning, by placing a note in the comment box or by getting a friend/ parent to tell on their behalf.
  • A regular confidential questionnaire will be given to students to allow them to tell safely.
  • Non-teaching staff should report to the Deputy Principal or Principal any incidents of bullying behaviour observed by them or mentioned to them.

 

Procedures for Recording

  • A record of all reports of bullying will be kept. Students may be asked to write an account of the incident.
  • When an investigation is complete & a student has been found to be bullying, they may be asked to sign an agreement that the behaviour will not recur. A parent may also be asked to sign.
  • Class Observation Strategies and Sociograms may be used by teachers to ascertain the extent & nature of bullying in a class.
  • These records will be kept on file for 3 years after all students concerned in the incident have left the school. The records will then be shredded.

Procedures for Investigating

  • Students reporting bullying and students alleged to be bullying will be interviewed separately by designated teachers during a specific time within the school time-table.
  • Witnesses may also be interviewed.
  • A restorative approach will be used when investigating incidents. The emphasis will be on seeking a change in behaviour.
  • However the agreed sanction system will apply where a student has been found to have used bullying behaviour.
  • A record will be kept of the proceedings.

Procedures for Resolving

Students will not normally be brought together to resolve incidents and this will only take place where the victim is willing and able to face the alleged bully. Parents may be asked to give permission for mediation to occur.

Agreed Sanction System

The existing sanction system for discipline as contained in the Code of Behaviour will apply and sanctions may range from a verbal warning to other sanctions depending on the seriousness of the offence.

When a student/s have been found to have used bullying behaviour the Sanction System is as follows:

1st  Offence: Verbal Warning

2nd Offence: Detention with work to complete and contact with parents

3rd Offence: Interview with parents and student

Further Offences: Persistent bullying behaviour will be referred to Board of Management with the possibility of suspension with work to complete. The student will be interviewed on return to school in the presence of the parents/ guardians, the principal & B.O.M. personnel. They will be asked to sign a Behaviour Contract.

Supports

Support will be offered to students who are victims and to students using bullying behaviour on a persistent basis e.g. counselling, referral to psychological services, etc.

Monitoring of incidents:

Teacher/s will link in with all students concerned for a period of time to ensure that the bullying has stopped.

Procedure for dealing with incidents of student to staff bullying

Bullying of a staff member by a student will be dealt with under the school’s Code of Behaviour.

  1. Staff member keeps records.
  2. Staff member reports incident(s) to Principal.
  3. Student will be interviewed by Principal.
  4. Sanctions will apply where a student has been found to have used a bullying behaviour.
  5. A record will be kept of the proceedings.

 

N.B. Bullying behaviour/harassment towards staff out of school treated as bullying within school.

Sanctions

1st Offence: Verbal Warning

2nd Offence: Interview with parents and student.

Further Offences: 

Referred to Board of Management and proceed as with student to student bullying sanction.

Procedure for dealing with incidents of staff to student bullying

Students must report bullying incidents by a staff member to the Principal or Deputy Principal. Parents/ Guardians may report on their behalf.

For the safety of all concerned, the student will be interviewed by two staff members (Principal & another) and may be asked to give a written account. Witnesses may be interviewed.

The staff member concerned will be interviewed by the principal. He/She may request to have a second person present. He/she may be asked for a written account of the incident.

Where bullying has occurred, the staff member will be given a verbal warning by the principal. Further offences will be dealt with by the B.O.M.

Where there is disagreement about whether bullying occurred, the Principal may engage the services of a trained mediator to mediate between the student & parent/s and the staff member. This will only happen with the permission of both parties. Records will be kept for 3 years after the student has left the school. They will then be shredded.

Informing new staff members

An information pack for new staff will be provided to make new staff members aware of policy and procedures to be followed and a staff member will be assigned to act as mentor for new staff members to make them aware of policy & procedures.

Policy Evaluation.

The policy will be reviewed every 2 years by questionnaire to all parties, staff, students and parents.

 

What happens when I tell in my school?

 

Under the school’s anti-bullying policy, the following steps will be taken when a student or staff member reports that bullying is taking place.

Student to Student Staff to Student Student to Staff
1.  Student reporting bullying and student(s) alleged to be bullying will be interviewed separately by designated teachers.

2.  Witnesses may also be interview.

3.  Students may be asked for a written account.

4.  Sanctions will apply where a student has been found to have used a bullying behaviour.

5.  A record will be kept of the proceedings

 

 

1.  Student must report incident to Principal or Deputy Principal. Parents may report on their behalf.

Students will be interviewed by two staff members [Principal or Deputy Principal and another]

2.  Witnesses may be interviewed.

3.  Student may be asked for a written account.

4.  Staff member concerned will be interviewed by principal and another teacher.

5.  Staff member may be asked for a written account of incident.

6.  Sanctions will apply where a staff member has been found to have used a bullying behaviour.

7.  Record will be kept.

1. Staff member keeps records.

2.  Staff member reports incident(s) to Principal.

3.  Student will be interviewed by Principal.

4.  Sanctions will apply where a student has been found to have used a bullying behaviour.

5.  A record will be kept of the proceedings.

N.B. Bullying behaviour/harassment towards staff out of school treated as bullying within school.

 

Sanctions

   1st Offence: Verbal Warning

  2nd Offence: Detention with work to complete and contact with parents.

 3rd Offence:

Interview with parents and student.

Further Offences: Persistent bullying behaviour will be referred to Board of Management with the possibility

of suspension with work to complete. The student will be interviewed on return to school in the presence of Parents/Guardians, the Principal and Board of Management personnel.  They will be asked to sign a Behaviour Contract.

Sanctions

1st Offence:   Verbal Warning

Further Offences will be dealt with by Board of Management.

Sanctions

1st Offence: Verbal Warning

2nd Offence: Interview with parents and student.

Further Offences: 

Referred to Board of Management and proceed as with student to student bullying sanction.

 

It is important that you agree that those procedures which have been discussed by teachers will be helpful for all students, those who are bullied and those accused of bullying behaviour.  All incidents will be dealt with as confidently as possible.  If any student has suggestions or comments about this, we will be glad to hear them and they will be considered.