- In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 and the Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for School issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of Scoil Iosef Naofa 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.
- To create a positive school culture and climate that is inclusive and welcoming of difference.
- To create a school climate which is open, supportive and encourages pupils to disclose and discuss bullying behaviour.
- To raise awareness amongst the entire school community that bullying is unacceptable behaviour.
- To ensure comprehensive supervision and monitoring through which all aspects of school activity are kept under observation.
- To provide procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour.
- To develop a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and for those involved in bullying behaviour.
- To work with and through the various local agencies in countering all forms of bullying and anti-social behaviour.
- To facilitate ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the school’s anti-bullying policy.
- 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
– 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:
– builds empathy, respect and resilience in pupils
– explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and transphobic 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)
- On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.
- 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’.
The following types of bullying behaviour are included in the definition of bullying:
- Deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying,
- Identity based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the traveller community and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs.
Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behaviour, including a once-off offensive or hurtful text message or other private messaging, do not fall within the definition of bullying and should be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.
However, in the context of this policy, 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. If, however these actions occur outside school hours then the school will advise the parents to go to the guards.
Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition will be dealt with in accordance school’s code of behaviour.
Why do pupils bully?
It is generally accepted that bullying is a learned behaviour. Pupils, who bully tend to display aggressive attitudes combined with low self-esteem. Children become bullies for many reasons. Some of these are:
- They feel insecure and inadequate.
- They may be bullied by parents or older children at home.
- They may find it difficult to socialise with their peers and so pick on younger more vulnerable children.
- They may feel they must succeed at all costs.
- They may be very spoilt and go totally unchallenged at home.
- They may be constantly humiliated by others and in turn do this to other children.
- They may be physically, sexually or emotionally abused themselves.
- Some children become involved in bullying by acting as bystanders or supporters of a bully. In this case it must be pointed out that they are equally guilty of bullying.
Where can bullying happen?
Bullying can happen anywhere at any time but there are certain times and places which particularly facilitate bullying:
- Areas of unstructured activity i.e. playground, toilets, shelter, corridors, outdoor sports field, tours or assembly hall.
- Bullying in the classroom
- Coming to and from school
Types of Bullying
- Pupil Behaviour:
Physical Aggression: This behaviour includes pushing shoving, punching, kicking, poking and tripping people up. It may also take the form of severe physical assault. While pupils often engage in “mess fights”, they can sometimes be used as a disguise for physical harassment or inflicting pain.
Damage to Property: Personal property can be the focus of attention for bullying behaviour. This may result in damage to clothing, school books and other learning materials. The contents of school bags and pencil cases may be scattered on the floor. Items of personal property may be defaced, broken, stolen or hidden.
Extortion: Demands for money may be made, often accompanied by threats (sometimes carried out in the event of the targeted pupil not delivering on the demand.) A pupil may also be forced into theft of property for delivery to another pupil who is engaged in bullying behaviour.
Intimidation: Some bullying behaviour takes the form of intimidation. It may be based on the use of very aggressive body language with the voice being used as a weapon. Particularly upsetting can be a facial expression which conveys aggression and/or dislike.
Isolation/Exclusion and other relational bullying: This occurs where a certain person is deliberately isolated, excluded or ignored by some or all, of the class group. This practice is usually initiated by the person engaged in bullying behaviour and can be difficult to detect. It may be accompanied by writing insulting remarks about a pupil on blackboards or in public places, by passing around notes about or drawings of the victim or by whispering insults about them loud enough to be heard. Relational bullying occurs when a person’s attempt to socialise and form relationships with peers are repeatedly rejected or undermined. One of the most common forms includes control: ‘Do this or I won’t be your friend anymore’; a group ganging up against one person; non-verbal gesturing; malicious gossip; spreading rumours about a person or giving them the ‘silent treatment’.
Cyber-bullying: This type of bullying is increasingly common and is continuously evolving. It is bullying carried out through the use of information and communication technologies such as text, social network sites, e-mail, instant messaging (IM), apps, gaming sites, chat-rooms and other on-line technologies. Being the target of inappropriate or hurtful messages is the most common form of online bullying. As cyber-bullying uses technology to perpetrate bullying behaviour and does not require face-to-face contact, cyber-bullying can occur at any time (day or night). Many forms of bullying can be facilitated through cyber-bullying. For example, a target may be sent hurtful/insulting text messages or pictures may be posted with negative comments about a person’s appearance.
Name-calling: Persistent name-calling directed at the same individual(s), which hurts, insults or humiliates should be regarded as a form of bullying behaviour. Often name-calling of this type refers to physical appearance, e.g. size, clothes worn, colour or ethnic origin. Accent or distinctive voice characteristics may attract negative attention. Academic ability can also provoke name-calling. This tends to operate at two extremes. There are those who are singled out for attention because they are perceived to be weak academically. At the other extreme there are those who, because they are perceived as high achievers are also targeted.
Slagging: This behaviour usually refers to the good-natured banter, which goes on as part of the normal social interchange between people. However, when this slagging extends to very personal remarks aimed again and again at the one individual about appearance, clothing, and personal hygiene or involves references or an uncomplimentary nature to members or one’s family, particularly if couched in sexual innuendo, then it assumes the form of bullying. It may also take the form of suggestive remarks about a pupil’s sexual orientation.
- Teacher Behaviour
A teacher may, unwittingly or otherwise, engage in or reinforce bullying behaviour in a number of ways:
- Using sarcasm or other insulting or demeaning form of language when addressing pupils, making negative comments about a pupil’s appearance or background.
- Humiliating, directly or indirectly, a pupil who is particularly academically weak or outstanding, or vulnerable in other ways.
- Using threatening or intimidatory gestures, or any form of degrading physical contact or exercises.
Effects of Bullying:
Pupils who are being bullied may develop feelings of insecurity and extreme anxiety and thus may become more vulnerable. Self-confidence may be damaged with a consequent lowering of their self-esteem. While they may not talk about what is happening to them, their suffering is indicated through changes in mood and behaviour. Bullying may occasionally result in suicide. It is, therefore, important to be alert to changes in behaviour as early intervention is desirable.
Indications of Bullying Behaviour – Signs and Symptoms:
The following signs/symptoms may suggest that a pupil is being bullied:
- Anxiety about travelling to and from school – requesting parents to drive or collect them, changing route of travel, avoiding regular times for travelling to and from school.
- Unwillingness to go to school, refusal to attend.
- Deterioration in educational performance, loss of concentration and loss of enthusiasm and interest in school.
- Pattern of physical illnesses (e.g. headaches, stomach aches).
- Unexplained changes either in mood or behaviour; it may be particularly noticeable before returning to school after weekends or more especially after longer school holidays.
- Visible signs of anxiety or distress – stammering, withdrawing, nightmares, difficulty in sleeping, crying, not eating, vomiting, bedwetting.
- Spontaneous out-of-character comments about either pupils or teachers.
- Possessions missing or damaged.
- Increased requests for money or stealing money.
- Unexplained bruising or cuts or damaged clothes.
- Reluctance and/or refusal to say what is troubling him/her.
These signs do not necessarily mean that a pupil is being bullied. If repeated or occurring in combination these signs do warrant investigation in order to establish what is affecting the pupil.
Characteristics in Bullying Behaviour
The Victim: Any pupil, through no fault of his or her own may be bullied. It is common in the course of normal play for pupils to tease each other. However, at a certain point, teasing and taunting may become forms of bullying behaviour. As pupils are particularly quick to notice differences in others, pupils perceived as different are those more prone to encounter such behaviour. However, the pupils who are most at risk of becoming victims are those who react in a vulnerable and distressed manner.
The seriousness and duration of the bullying behaviour is directly related to the pupil’s continuing response to the verbal, physical or psychological aggression. It is of note that some pupils can unwittingly behave in a very provocative manner that attracts the bullying behaviour.
The Bully: It is generally accepted that bullying is a learned behaviour. Pupils who bully tend to display aggressive attitudes combined with a low level of self-discipline. They can lack any sense of remorse; often they convince themselves that the victim deserves the treatment dished out. Pupils who bully can also be attention seeking; often they set out to impress bystanders and enjoy the reaction their behaviour provokes. They tend to lack the ability to empathise. They are unaware or indifferent to the victim’s feeling.
Others seem to enjoy inflicting pain. It is of note that many bullies suffer from a lack of confidence and have low self-esteem.
It is not uncommon to find that pupils who engage in bullying are also bullied. They tend to be easily provoked and frequently provoke others.
- Relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying:
A pupil or parent may bring a bullying concern to any teacher in the school. Individual teachers will take appropriate measures regarding reports of bullying behaviour in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy.
In Scoil Iosef Naofa the class teacher has responsibility for investigating and dealing with bullying issues amongst pupils.
Any recurring bullying incidents amongst staff must be reported to the designated teacher for investigating and dealing with bullying which in our school is Ms. Claire Madden or Ms. Samantha Mc Mahon.
- Implementation of education and prevention strategies including awareness raising:
- Curricular Initiatives
There are a number of curricular components and programmes used in Scoil Iosef Naofa which are particularly relevant to the prevention of bullying and the promotion of respect for diversity and inclusiveness.
The SPHE curriculum makes specific provision for exploring bullying as well as the inter-related areas of belonging and integrating, communication, conflict, friendship, personal safety and relationships through activities such as Circle Time.
The Stay Safe programme, is a personal safety skills programme which seeks to enhance children’s self-protection skills including their ability to recognise and cope with bullying.
The Walk Tall programme is a social, personal and health education programme. The main themes covered are self-esteem, feelings, decision-making and drugs.
The Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme provides opportunities to explore and discuss areas such as human sexuality and relationships, which has particular relevance to identity-based bullying.
- Raise awareness amongst staff and parents by bringing in external speakers to address all areas of bullying including cyber bullying.
- Inform parents of training programmes available outside school to both support them to support their children regarding issues of bullying and also inform them about the new Anti-Bullying procedures for primary schools.
- 6th Class participate in the ‘Copping On’ programme. As well as being a crime awareness programme, it also concentrates on promoting personal development and self-esteem.
- Scoil Iosef Naofa prides itself in having a good classroom relationship with pupils creating a ‘telling school’ where children are free to speak to those in authority without fearing the stigma of being called a ‘tell-tale’.
- The school assembly is used to foster an attitude of respect for all and to highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.
- Scoil Iosef Naofa provides an inclusive environment for children with special needs.
- A ‘positive school climate’ reinforcing positive behaviour and fostering respectful attitudes towards each other are addressed formally and informally in Scoil Iosef Naofa throughout the whole school day
- Procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying
The school and parents/guardians must encourage children to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour. The initial stage is with the class teacher, the teacher on playground duty at the time, the principal or with parents.
Teachers are best advised to take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents/guardians. Such incidents are best investigated outside the classroom situation to avoid the public humiliation of the victim or the pupil engaged in bullying behaviour. In any incident of bullying, the teacher will speak to the pupils involved, in an attempt to get both sides of the story.
When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why?
- Children are constantly assured that their reports of bullying either for themselves or peers will be treated with sensitivity.
- It is made clear to all pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not telling tales but are behaving responsibly.
- Repeated incidents of bullying behaviour will be noted by the class teacher and or the teacher on playground duty.
- Incidents will be investigated – What, Who, When, Where, Why? Will help here.
- Serious incidents/persistent problems will be reported to the principal.
- If a group is involved, they will be met both individually and as a group. Each member will be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone is clear about what everyone else has said. The account may be oral or written.
- Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way and will be expected to assist in the investigation. Children should understand that there are no innocent bystanders where bullying is concerned.
- Teachers who are investigating cases of bullying behaviour will keep a written record of their discussions with those involved. It is sometimes appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident.
- In cases where it has been determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents or guardians of the two parties involved may be asked to visit the school to discuss the incident and consequences thereof.
- The “Bully” will be asked to reflect on his/her behaviour and its consequences for himself/herself and for the person who is the victim.
- In cases where it has been determined that bullying has occurred parents will be made aware of this behaviour and requested to visit the school and discuss it with the teacher/principal with a view to resolving the problem.
- The situation will continue to be monitored to ensure the problem has been resolved.
- In the case of a complaint regarding a staff member, this should normally in the first instance, be raised with the staff member in question and if necessary, with the designated teacher for investigating and dealing with bullying. If the case remains unsolved the matter should be referred to the Assistant/Deputy Principal and finally the Principal.
- Where cases, relating to either pupil or a teacher remain unresolved at school level, the matter should be referred to the School’s Board of Management. If it is not resolved at Board level the matter may be referred to the local Inspectorate.
What can be done?
- It is important to be realistic, it will not be possible for a single child to assert his/her rights if attacked by a group. Children should be advised to get away and tell an adult in situations such as this.
- Teaching the child to say “No” in a good assertive tone of voice and to carry himself/herself in a confident way will help your child to deal with many situations. A child’s self-image and body language may send out messages to potential bullies. Children should be encouraged to talk about bullying and given an opportunity to express their concerns.
- Approach your child’s teacher if the bullying is school related. It is important for you to understand that bullying in school can be difficult for teachers to detect because of the large numbers of children involved. Teachers will appreciate bullying being brought to light. School bullying requires that parents and teachers work together for a resolution.
- It is not possible for the school to deal with bullying that occurs outside of school. We will advise you to go to the guards.
- Very often parental advice to a child is to “hit back” at the bully if the abuse is physical. This is not always realistic as it requires a huge amount of courage and indeed sometimes makes the situation worse. Children should be encouraged not to engage in violent behaviour. Teaching children to be more assertive and to tell is far more positive and effective.
- Keep an account of incidents to help you assess how serious the problem is. Many children, with a little help overcome this problem very quickly.
What if your child is a bully?
- Do not panic. This may be a temporary response to something else in a child’s life, e.g. a new baby, a death in the family, a difficult home problem etc. Give your child an opportunity to talk about anything that could be upsetting him/her.
- Do not punish bullying by being a bully yourself. Hitting or a verbal attack will make the situation worse. Talk to your child and try to find out if there is a problem. Explain how the victim felt. Try to get the child to understand the victim’s point of view. This would need to be done over time.
- Bullies often suffer from poor self-esteem. Use every opportunity you can to praise good, considerate, helpful behaviour. Do not only look for negatives.
- Talk to the child’s teacher and try to find out more about the child’s school behaviour. Enlist the teacher’s help in dealing with this. It is important that you both take the same approach.
- If the situation is serious, you may need to ask the school or your G.P. to refer your child to the child guidance clinic for help.
- School’s Programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying
- School Completion Programme: to provide pupils with opportunities to develop self-esteem and feelings of self-worth for those pupils involved in bullying behaviour
- Pupils who observe incidents of bullying or who are being bullied should be encouraged to discuss them with teachers.
- The principal may address bullying issues that arise in the Friday School Assembly
- Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils
The Board of Management confirms that appropriate supervision and
monitoring policies and practices are in place to both prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to facilitate early intervention where possible.
- Prevention of Harassment
The Board of Management confirms that the school will in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all steps that are reasonably practical to prevent the sexual harassment of pupils or staff or the harassment of pupils or staff on any of the nine grounds specified i.e. gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the traveler community.