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Anti-bullying Policy

Our school’s anti-bullying policy has been drawn up in consultation with teachers, parents and the Board of Management.

What is bullying?

Bullying is deliberate hurtful behaviour which is persistent and on-going. It may be verbal, psychological (emotional), social or physical. The incidents of bullying may not always be outwardly apparent—they can take an indirect guise, such as social isolation and exclusion from groups. Bullying maybe carried out by a group/group(s) or by an individual, and can occur anywhere. Bullying transcends all boundaries: age, gender, ethnic group or social groupings. It is fully recognised that bullying can be a hurtful, painful, harmful, distressing and frightening experience.

Examples of bullying are:

Verbal

  • Name calling.
  • Hurtful, insulting or humiliating remarks about a child’s appearance, ability, family or religion.
  • Spreading mean, hurtful or untrue gossip or rumours about an individual.

Psychological (emotional)

  • Deliberately excluding or isolating a child.
  • Intimidation.
  • Belittling someone’s efforts.
  • Ganging up on an individual.

Physical

  • Hitting, pushing, shoving, pinching, tripping, etc.
  • Interference with a child’s possessions, e.g. books, money or lunch.
  • Forcing another child to do something for the bully, such as homework, "jobs".
 

When any of these behaviours are noted in isolation, they are dealt with as misdemeanours under the School Code of Behaviour and Discipline . Where the behaviours happen more than once, they are considered as bullying incidents.

What does the school do to prevent bullying?

In accordance with School Code of Behaviour and Discipline, the school seeks to foster each child’s self esteem, sense of responsibility, citizenship and well being to prevent bullying behaviours from occurring in the first instance. This is the essence of the curriculum for Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) which is a compulsory area of the Primary Curriculum. Teaching programmes which deal specifically with these issues are taught in all classes.

These include

  • The Child Abuse Prevention Programme (Stay Safe)
  • The Substance Misuse Prevention Programme (Walk Tall)
  • National Safety Council Programme (Be Safe)

Behaviour and Discipline is also considered as part of the Religion Programme (Alive-O Series)

What are the possible signs of bullying?

Children may:

  • Become reluctant to go to school, to go out to play or to continue with other activities with particular children and/or beg to be accompanied by an adult to school.
  • Become withdrawn, anxious, nervous, tense or evasive.
  • Invent excuses and / or health problems / illnesses.
  • Show deterioration in school performance.
  • Return home regularly with books, clothes or other possessions damaged or missing.
  • Have unexplained bruises, scratches etc.
  • Develop eating problems, sleeping problems and / or suffer from depression.

These signs may also be indicators of other problems originating elsewhere, and such reasons should be eliminated before proceeding.

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What should a parent do?

Do:

  • Inform the class teacher first, and then, if necessary, the principal if they think their child is being bullied or is bullying other children.
  • Listen to your child – be patient and sensitive.
  • Talk about the definition of bullying with your child.
  • Encourage the use of helpful strategies where contact with bully is unavoidable,

Example:

    • Not crying or showing temper – this is what the child with the bullying behaviour often wants to see.
    • Standing straight and trying to appear confident.
    • Speaking firmly (not aggressively), clearly and slowly.
    • Looking the child doing the bullying in the eye and saying "No".
  • Try to agree a way forward with your child.
  • Make note of everything you have been told.
  • Be honest, open-minded and stick to the facts.
  • Refer to school policy.
 

Try not to act on impulse but assure the child that you are taking his or her concerns seriously and will investigate the matter fully.

Don’t:

  • Approach the other child either within or outside the school
  • Say you will "sort somebody out" straightaway.
  • Interrogate or increase the stress of an already anxious child.
  • Make promises you cannot keep e.g. confidentiality.
  • Communicate your anxiety to your child.
  • Allow a situation to drag on for weeks – in case of serious damage.
  • Exaggerate or jump to conclusions.
  • Encourage retaliation.
 

Key words to remember!

  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Talk
  • Get Help

What should children do if they think they are being bullied or witness bullying?

Remember the Stay Safe programme and:

  • Tell someone you can trust – teacher, parent/carer, older friend or relative.
  • Write down what happened and how you feel – be 100% honest.
  • Avoid situations where he / she may be alone with the child doing the bullying.
  • Avoid situations where he / she may be confronted by that child.
  • Walk away smartly if you see him / her / them approaching.
  • Remember the Stay Safe rules:

Say " No " – Get away and Tell an adult who can help.

 

Don’t:

  • Try to deal with the situation on your own.
  • Believe the lies of the child who is bullying you.
  • Use violence against the child who is bullying you.
  • Exaggerate – this only casts doubts on your version of events.

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Helping the child who is bullying.

While we acknowledge it is distressing for most parents/guardians to discover that their child is the victim of bullying, we must accept that it is equally upsetting for a parent to learn that their child is the one who is guilty of bullying behaviour. We must also try to remember that such a person is often an insecure person and she/he needs help. Therefore we must strive to condemn the inappropriate behaviour, - we should speak of the " bullying behaviour" not the child, the " bully".

What the school does to prevent bullying:

  • St. Columba’s School is a school where children are encouraged to tell if they witness or fall victim to bullying.
  • The school teaches about bullying, its definition and effect on people openly and candidly with the children.
  • The school informs the parents/guardians of both sides.
  • Make punishments for bullying known to all the children.
  • Teach the children the Stay Safe rules;

Say "No" – Get away and Tell an adult who can help.

 

The school’s response and procedure for investigating alleged incidents of bullying

  • A teacher-pupil conference occurs between teacher and all children involved. Written notes will be taken.

The following are an example of questions, which may be asked:

  • Who has been bullying you?
  • How long has this been going on?
  • How many times has this happened?
  • Has anyone else seen this happen to you? If so who?
  • Where did the incidents take place?
  • When did the incidents take place?
  • Has anyone else been bullied by the same person?
  • Have you done anything unhelpful that has not helped the situation?

  • All reports of bullying are reported to the principal and recorded.
  • Parents/guardians of all involved are informed so they will be in a position to help and support their children
  • Children may be asked to write their own account of the incident; the above-mentioned questions would be answered.
  • The teacher explains the problem to both sides.
  • Both sides share the responsibility.
  • The teacher asks for ideas as to how conflict can be resolved.
  • Having agreed a workable solution the teachers leaves it up to both parties to implement, monitoring events from a distance.
  • The teacher meets with both parties, after a few days to review the progress made.
  • If it is concluded no progress or effort has been made on the side of the person engaging in bullying behaviour, then:
    1. It will be made clear to him / her that he / she is in breach of the code of discipline.
    2. The parents / carers of the child will be requested to a meeting at the school with the principal and teacher.
    3. Appropriate and well-cited punishments will be discussed.
    4. Punishment will be implemented in accordance with school policy.
  • A follow up meeting (incidental) will reconvene within two weeks with the bully and victim separately, to ensure there is no further bullying.

When child-centred reconciliation of a situation does not work, punishments may be initiated in accordance with the School Code of Behaviour and Discipline.

  • The parents/guardians of the bully are contacted again and the child’s behaviour is formally placed on report.
  • The child is denied special privileges for a given period.
  • The child who is accused of bullying behaviour is excluded from school for two days if bullying is continuous.

Measures the school tries to implement to help the bully.

  • The issue of counselling is discussed for the child.
  • Strategies for anger management are discussed.
  • Additional in-class workshops on bullying are held in conjunction with additional in-class discussions of appropriate behaviour.
  • A written contract between the child, parents and the school is complied stating set targets child has to meet in relation to behaviour/conduct. Progress is monitored and reviewed at regular intervals and targets revaluated as a result.
 

 

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