Anti-Bullying and Bullying Prevention Policy

Mission Statement

In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the Code of Behaviour Guidelines issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of Cloonakilla School has adopted the following anti-bullying policy within the framework of the school’s overall code of behaviour. This policy fully complies with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying procedures for Primary and Post Primary schools which were published in September 2013.
The Board of Management recognises the very serious nature of bullying and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of pupils and is therefore fully committed to 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; and
  • Promotes respectful relationships across the school community;
  • Effective leadership;
  • A school-wide approach;
  • A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact;
  • Implementation of education and prevention strategies (including awareness raising measures) that-
    • Build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and
    • Explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including, homophobic bullying.
  • Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils;
  • Supports for staff;
  • Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour (including use of established intervention strategies); and
  • On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

B: Definition of Bullying

In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools bullying is defined as follows:
Bullying is unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted, by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.

C: Types of Bullying

Physical aggression: includes pushing, punching, kicking and other forms of physical assault.
Damage to Property:results in damage to clothing, school books and other school materials, interference or pilfering of personal possessions or schoolbag etc.
Extortion:demands being made for money often accompanied by threats.
Intimidation:Pupils may be intimidated by aggressive body language or tone of voice.
Abusive telephone calls: The abusive, anonymous phone call is a form of intimidation and bullying.
Isolation: The isolation, exclusion, and backlash/ignoring of a victim by a group or individual, often accompanied by a campaign of writing insulting remarks either in the form of notes or graffiti.
Name-calling: Persistent name-calling of a hurtful, insulting or intimidating nature, often referring to physical appearance or academic ability and repeatedly directed at one individual.
Teasing: When good-natured banter extends to personal remarks about appearance, clothing, personal hygiene or involves references of an uncomplimentary nature to members of one’s family, it assumes the form of bullying.
Cyber-bullying: Use of technologies (Text messages, e-mail, picture via mobile phone cameras, chat room bullying and bullying via websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Ask.fm etc).
Homophobic bullying: racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying of those with S.E.N.

D: Effects of Bullying

Children who are bullied may develop feelings of insecurity and extreme anxiety resulting in greater vulnerability. A reluctance to talk about what is happening to them can lead to behavioural changes and lowering of academic performance.

The following are typical examples:
– Reduced ability to concentrate
– Poor or deteriorating school work
– Fear of going to or returning from school
– Loss of confidence and self-esteem
– Aggressive behaviour
– Depression
It must be kept in mind that these are indicators that the child is experiencing some difficulty in some area of his/her life. They may not have bullying as their cause.

E: Policy aims

In keeping with the philosophy of Cloonakilla School, as stated above, the policy on countering bullying behaviour seeks to raise a greater awareness of bullying among the school community, including teaching staff, ancillary staff, management, parents and children. It aims to help create an ethos and atmosphere within the school whereby bullying of any type is seen as unacceptable behaviour by all including potential perpetrators and victims. It aims to teach children that it is o.k. to tell since Cloonakilla is a “telling school”. It also aims to create a situation whereby bullying behaviour is dealt with effectively and fairly. This response will benefit the victim through the acquisition of skills to counteract bullying behaviour. It will also benefit the bully by helping him/her, through guidance and discussion, to see the anti-social, counter-productive nature of this type of behaviour.
The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:
1. Class teacher
2. Principal/Deputy Principal
3. Any teacher who encounters bullying behaviour. Any teacher may act as a relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it.

F. Preventative Strategies

Supervision: School activities will be supervised and monitored at all times, with particular emphasis on those occasions when situations of bullying are more likely to occur, such as assembly time, play-time and dismissal time at the end of the school day.
The Acceptable User Policy outlines the outlines the necessary steps to ensure that access to technology is strictly monitored. Pupils are not permitted to bring mobile phones to school (Please see Mobile Phone Policy).
Commitment:All parties – Board of Management, teaching and ancillary staff, parents, pupils and all other persons in the immediate school community – are to be involved in a programme which informs and activates all in the addressing and prevention of bullying in our school.
Raising Awareness: The following measures will be used to raise awareness of bullying at all levels:

  • Stay Safe Programme
  • Class Charters
  • Class discussions
  • R.S.E. Programme
  • Teaching children about appropriate use of social media
  • Actively involve parents in raising awareness around social medium
  • Positive school climate

Education: Whole staff professional development on bullying to ensure that all staff develops an awareness of what bullying is, how it impacts on pupils’ lives and how to respond to it effectively. Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, SNA’s, caretakers, cleaners, bus-drivers etc are encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them.
Parents/Guardians and the wider school community should be made aware of the effects of bullying and how to deal with it.
Disclosure: Children will be encouraged to tell another child, a member of staff or a parent about alleged bullying incidents. The difference between telling about minor, once-off incidents and telling to “stay safe” should be understood by everyone involved. Pupils need to know to tell and how to tell:

  • Direct approach to teacher at appropriate time
  • Feelings box
  • Get a Parent/Guardian to tell on your behalf
  • Hand note up to teacher at beginning/end of class
  • Encourage a culture of telling, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders. It should be made clear to all pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not considered to be telling tales but are behaving responsibly.

Class room strategies:
1. The full implementation of the SPHE Curriculum and the RSE and Stay Safe Programmes.
2. In September the Anti-Bullying Theme will form part of the SPHE Curriculum.
A class charter will be drawn up in each classroom by the children in conjunction with the class teacher. This class charter will form part of the Anti Bullying Code for the school and will be displayed in a prominent position within the classroom and in common areas of the school.
3. In November the SPHE curriculum will deal explicitly with cyber-bullying and identity based bullying.
4. Every alternate year pupils will be addressed on cyber bullying and safe internet tips (3rd-6). The B.O.M. feels that the main function of the school with regard to cyber-bullying is to educate the children about same as most cyber-bullying occurs from home.
5. Homophobic bullying will be dealt with it as it arises in an informal manner.
6. Commencing in January the Stay Safe Programme will be taught in a 6 week block to Senior Infants – 6 class. This programme will seek to enhance children’s self-protection skills including their ability to recognise and cope with bullying.
7. The Buddy Programme (September-April) ensures that Junior Infant children are supported by children from the senior classes so that no Junior Infant pupil feels alienated or unhappy in the playground.
8. The school will specifically consider the additional needs of SEN pupils with regard to programme implementation and the development of skills and strategies to enable all pupils to respond appropriately.
9. The following policies also support the Anti Bullying Policy:

  • Code of behaviour
  • Acceptable User Policy
  • Yard duty and Supervision Policy
  • Child Protection Policy
  • Mobile Phone Policy
  • School Tours Policy

Investigation, Follow Up and Recording Strategies

Investigation
1. Parents/Children must bring concerns over bullying to the relevant class teacher. All reports must be investigated and dealt with in a calm, unemotional fashion by the class teacher. Every effort will be made to resolve the issue quickly. The teacher will use his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved. 2. 2. Teacher will interview both parties separately at first. Sometimes pupils who are not directly involved will be questioned as often they can provide useful, objective information. If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved will be met as a group. At the group meeting, each member will be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone in the group is clear about each other’s j i statements.
3. If the teacher deems that bullying has occurred the parents or pupil making the complaint may be asked to complete a bullying report form. Sometimes it is ; helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident. Parents and pupils are required to co-operate with any investigation and to try and help the school resolve the issue and restore good relations between both parties. (Rather than focussing on apportioning blame).
4. If the teacher deems that bullying behaviour has occurred the parents of the parties involved will be informed of the matter and the actions being taken by the school will be explained to them.
5. Where the relevant teacher has determined that a pupil has engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to him/her that he/she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and every effort should be made to get him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.
6. Following consultation with the parents and pupils a plan of action will be drawn up.
7. The school will give parents an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can support the actions being taken by the school and the supports provided to the pupils.
8. It will also be made clear to all involved that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his/her parents and the school authorities.
9. A follow up meeting will be arranged.
10. All staff must keep a written record of any incidents of bullying witnessed by them or notified to them on the standard Staff Recording Form of Pupil Bullying Incident. It is good practice to inform the Principal of incidents being investigated.

Follow up and Recording:

a) In cases where the teacher considers that bullying behaviour has not been adequately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, it must be recorded by the relevant teacher in the recording template and submitted to the School Principal.
b) In some instances the teacher may decide to record and report the bullying incident immediately to the Principal. In this case the Principal and teacher will meet both parties separately and a Behaviour Plan of Action will be drawn up. This programme will seek to restore good relations, to monitor progress, to provide mediation and to restore the self esteem of the victim. This plan will be implemented immediately and monitored at regular intervals that are agreeable to all parties following consultation with parents and pupils concerned.
c) In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately addressed the relevant teacher must take the following factors into account:

  • Whether the bullying has ceased
  • Whether the issues between the parties has been resolved
  • Any feedback from the parties involved

(d) Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parents must be referred to the school’s complaints procedure or subsequently the Ombudsman for Children.
e) In cases where a school has serious concerns in relation to managing bullying behaviour the advice of the NEPS will be sought.
f) Serious instances of bullying should, in accordance with the Children First and the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, be referred to the HSE Children and Family Services and/or Gardaí as appropriate
g) Principal brings report to Board of Management meeting.
h) Once per term the Principal will provide a report to the B.O.M. setting out the overall number of bullying cases reported since the previous meeting (Appendix 3) and confirmation that these issues have been dealt with in accordance with the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy.

G: Prevention of Harassment

The BOM confirms that the school will, in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all steps that are reasonably practicable to prevent the sexual harassment of pupils or staff or the harassment of pupils or staff on any of the nine grounds specified .e.g. gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.
H. Policy Monitoring
The effectiveness of this policy will be monitored on an on-going basis and adjustments made as deemed necessary.
I. Ratification and Communication
This policy is to be circulated to:

  • All teaching and ancillary staff
  • Board of Management members
  • All Parents
  • Parents Association

Review of Policy
This policy was reviewed in March 2014. It was adopted by the BOM on 10th March 2014. It will be reviewed annually by the B.O.M (Appendix 4) and written notification that the review has been completed will be communicated to parents via newsletter.

Signed: __________________________    Date:__________
Fr John Cullen & Mary O’Rourke
Chairperson of B.O.M.
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