POLICY ON BULLYING
In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the Code of Behaviour guidelines issued by the NEWB (National Education Welfare Board), the Board of Management of Castleknock National 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 main aims of our anti-bullying policy are as follows:
-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 (including school Management, teachers, pupils, parents, volunteers etc.) 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 investigating and dealing with bullying behaviour.
– 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 and
-To facilitate ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the school’s anti-bullying policy.
Key principles of best practice
The Board of Management of Castleknock National School 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.
We aim to have 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.
– 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;
– explicitly address the issues of cyber bullying and identity-based bullying including, in particular, homophobic, transphobic bullying and bullying involving the travelling community.
– Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils
– Supports for staff
– Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behavior (including use of
established intervention strategies)
– On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy
The 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.
The following types of bullying behaviour are included in the definition of bullying:
– deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying, extortion, isolation and persistent name calling;
– cyber-bullying; and identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, transgender related bullying, bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs, bullying of children who are deemed to be very clever and bullying of younger children than their peers or for a variety of reasons.
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 this 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.
Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with our school’s Code of Behaviour.
Additional information on different types of bullying is set out in Section 2 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
Indicators of bullying behaviour
The following signs and symptoms may suggest that a pupil is being bullied:
∙ anxiety about travelling to and from school e.g. requesting parents to drive or collect him/her, changing travel routes, avoiding regular times for travelling to and from school;
∙ unwillingness to go to school, refusal to attend, truancy;
∙ 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 which may be particularly noticeable before returning to school after weekends or more especially after longer school holidays.
∙ visible signs of anxiety or distress e.g. stammering, withdrawing, nightmares, difficulty in sleeping, crying, not eating, vomiting, bedwetting.
∙ spontaneous out-of-character comments about either pupils or teachers.
∙ posessions missing or damaged.
∙ increased requests for money or stealing money.
∙ unexplained bruising or cuts or damaged clothing, and
∙ reluctance and/or refusal to say what is troubling him/her.
Characteristics associated with bullying
The school recognises that ANY child can be a victim of bullying
It is important to recognise that any pupil can be bullied or can engage in bullying behaviour.
The pupil who engages in bullying behaviour
A significant proportion of bullying is not merely behavioural but is rooted in a lack of respect for diversity and in social inequalities. “Prejudice-based” or “identity-based” bullying can be a significant factor in bullying behavior.
Pupils who engage in bullying behaviour tend to display aggressive attitudes combined with a low level of self-discipline. They may lack any sense of remorse, convincing themselves that the other person deserves the treatment they are receiving.
Pupils who engage in bullying behaviour can be attention seeking: setting out to impress bystanders and responding to the reaction their behaviour provokes. They can lack the ability to empathise. They can appear unaware or indifferent to the other person’s feelings.
It is of note that pupils who exhibit bullying behaviour may often suffer from a lack of confidence and have low self-esteem.
However, it must also be recognized, that pupils who engage in bullying behaviour do not always intend to bully, or may not recognise the potential negative impact of their words and actions on others.
It is not uncommon to find that pupils who engage in bullying behaviour may also have been bullied themselves.
The pupil who is bullied
Any pupil, through no fault of their own may be a target of bullying. It is common in the course of normal interaction for pupils to tease or taunt each other. However, at a certain point, teasing and taunting may become forms of bullying behaviour. As pupils can be particularly quick to notice differences in others, pupils who are perceived as different in some way can be more prone to encounter such behaviour. However, the pupils who are most at risk of being bullied, are those who react in a vulnerable and distressed manner. The seriousness and duration of the bullying behaviour can be related to the pupil’s continuing response to the verbal, physical or psychological aggression.
Pupils who are bullied often experience difficulties in speaking up about bullying. The difficulties include:
∙ fear of reprisals;
∙ concerns about being perceived as a “tell-tale’’ for reporting bullying;
∙ concerns about “getting into trouble” with the principal or teacher for reporting bullying;
∙ not having evidence to back up a bullying allegation;
∙ fear of isolation – no-one will play with them if they speak up;
∙ not knowing how the matter will be dealt with by the school; and
∙ not feeling fully confident of being believed.
More vulnerable pupils
While bullying can happen to any pupil, it is known that some may be more vulnerable to, or at risk of experiencing bullying. Such vulnerable groups include pupils with disabilities or special educational needs, or children who are very clever, those from ethnic minority and migrant groups, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) pupils, those perceived to be LGBT, members of the travelling community and pupils of minority religious faiths.
There can be an increased vulnerability to bullying amongst pupils with special educational needs and particularly those who do not understand social cues and/or have difficulty communicating. Some pupils with complex needs may lack understanding of social situations and therefore trust everyone implicitly. Such pupils may be more vulnerable because they do not have the same social skills or capacity as others, to recognize, and defend themselves against bullying behaviour. Research suggests that children with disabilities and with special educational needs (SEN) are more likely to be bullied than others. Bullying can also have a more severe impact on such children. For example, some studies which compare the impact of bullying on children with, and without, certain disabilities, such as a speech and language difficulty, show that bullying has a greater impact on self-esteem for those with a disability.
Homophobic and transphobic bullying, (bullying targeted at those who are or who are perceived to be LGBT), has also been found to be prevalent, with evidence that such pupils have particular difficulty in speaking up, or reporting the bullying behaviour.
Where does bullying happen?
Bullying can happen anytime and anywhere, but there are certain times and places which particularly facilitate bullying.
Access to technology means, that cyber-bullying can happen around the clock, and the pupil’s home may not even be a safe haven from such bullying. Pupils are increasingly communicating in ways that are often unknown to adults and free from supervision. The nature of these technologies means, digital content can be shared and seen by a very wide audience almost instantly and is almost impossible to delete permanently. While cyber bullying often takes place at home and at night, the impact can also be felt in school.
Areas of unstructured activity
Bullying in schools frequently takes place in the playground/schoolyard. School grounds with hidden or obscured parts may provide an environment conducive to bullying. Many common playground/schoolyard games present opportunities for bullying because of their physical nature. It is relatively easy to single out and bully another pupil. The noise level masks much of what is going on. The playground/schoolyard provides the opportunity for older pupils to pick on younger pupils. It an also be the setting for bullying by groups. Continuing provocation may eventually lead to a physical fight and ironically in some cases the person being bullied may appear to be the aggressor because he/she finally gives vent to his/her frustration.
Toilets, corridors, cloakrooms, changing rooms, and assembly hall may be the scene of verbal, psychological and physical bullying. The behaviour of pupils, in those areas, needs careful monitoring. Incidents of severe physical bullying may be treated as assault and may be reported to the Gardaí.
Bullying in the classroom
Bullying may also take place in class. It may occur subtly through glances, looks and sniggers but may take the more overt form of physical intimidation. It may also be exacerbated if a classroom atmosphere prevails, whereby pupils are allowed to make derogatory comments about their classmates, teachers or other staff. However, teachers need to be alert to the underlying reasons for such comments, in case pupils are trying to disclose something which is disturbing them and thus needs further investigation.
Coming to and from school
The area immediately outside the school, the local shops and local neighbourhood are often the scenes of bullying. Bullying can also take place at the bus-stop or on the journey to and from school whether the individuals are walking, cycling or on school buses.
Our education and prevention strategies
We will use a variety of educational and preventative strategies to cultivate a positive school culture which has respect for all stakeholders in the school community.
The education and prevention strategies (including strategies aimed at cyber bullying, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows:
Implementation of specific strand units of the S.P.H.E. programme, related to bullying
activities, will include the following:
∙ Circle time and class discussion on the rights of the individual;
∙ Work on building self-esteem of pupils, e.g. Stay Safe Programme, Weaving Wellbeing Programme;
∙ Role-play to re-enact scenarios.
∙ Exploring bullying as well as the inter-related areas of belonging and integrating, communication, conflict, friendship, personal safety and relationships; and
∙ Educating pupils on appropriate on-line behaviour, how to stay safe while on-line and also developing a culture of reporting any concerns about cyber-bullying.
Whole school approaches
The following whole school approaches will be implemented:
∙ Visual reminders for pupils, e.g. anti-bullying posters and leaflets on bullying displayed around the school.
∙ Monitoring new pupils to ensure they are settling in.
∙ Encouraging teachers, parents and other pupils to be vigilant.
∙ Encouraging “victim” or other pupils to tell in confidence as soon as possible.
∙ Encouraging a positive and friendly atmosphere between pupil/pupil and pupil/teacher.
∙ Inviting guest speakers to talk to children.
∙ Ensuring all pupils and parents are included.
∙ Paying attention to key moments such as transitioning from primary school to post-primary.
∙ Co-operation and group enterprise will be promoted through team sports, the choir, the school garden and other whole school initiatives.
∙ Encouraging every child to talk to a trusted adult about their feelings and worries.
∙ Encouraging all children, including bystanders, to report any bullying behaviour to an adult.
∙ Dealing with the issue of identity-based bullying, in particular homophobic and transphobic bullying.
∙ Comment Box in classroom for worries/concerns as they arise.
There will be space, within the teaching of all subjects, to foster an attitude of respect for all, to promote the value of diversity, to address prejudice and stereotyping and to highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.
Our procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying behaviour in our school:
The school’s procedures for investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behavior, and the established intervention strategies used by the school for dealing with cases of bullying behaviour are as follows:
∙ Since the failure to report bullying, can lead to a continuation or a deterioration of that unacceptable behaviour, the school and parents encourage children to disclose and discuss any incidents of bullying behavior. This can be with the class teacher, the teacher on yard duty at the time, Special Needs Assistants, the principal or with parents. Children will be constantly assured that their reports of bullying will be treated with sensitivity.
∙ An incident of bullying behaviour will be noted and recorded by the class teacher or the teacher on yard duty and reported to the principal.
∙ The incident will be investigated – what, who, when, where, why?
∙ An effort will be made to resolve any issues and to restore, as far as practicable, the relationships.
∙ The teacher will exercise professional judgement, to determine whether bullying has occurred and as to how it can be resolved.
∙ Parents and pupils are required to co-operate with any investigation
∙ 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. This account will be recorded.
∙ Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way, and will be expected to assist the investigation. Children should understand there are no innocent bystanders where bullying is concerned.
∙ Parents will be made aware of this behaviour and requested to come and discuss it with the teacher/principal with a view to solving the problem. If necessary, the aggressor will be asked to sign an undertaking that “this behaviour will not reoccur”.
∙ The situation will continue to be monitored to ensure that the problem has been resolved. Actions taken will be recorded. Records will be reviewed and analysed.
The Code of Behaviour will be invoked in circumstances where it is deemed prudent by the relevant teacher and school principal.
Procedures in the Code of Behaviour will be followed to deal with cases of bullying. See Code of Behaviour sections on Detention, Suspension and Expulsion.
∙ If a case remains unresolved, the matter will be referred to the school’s Board of Management. The board will also be briefed in relation to the number, if any, of templates which have been completed.
∙ Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the school must advise the parents of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.
∙ Where a parent approaches the school in good faith and highlights a concern that they have about another pupil, (not their own child), then, in the spirit of openness and honesty, the school will contact the parents of the child that is allegedly being bullied, and advise them of the report received. This will allow the potential victim’s parents to monitor warning signs etc. at home and encourage better communication with the school.
Who is responsible for doing what?
The relevant persons for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:
∙ the class teacher.
∙ the Principal, (where deemed necessary).
Persons responsible for implementing this policy
All teaching Staff, with the support of SNAs will investigate and record incidents of bullying behaviour.
Support for pupils affected by bullying
The school’s programme of support, for working with pupils affected by bullying, is as follows:
∙ Circle time.
∙ Restorative practice as outlined above.
∙ Opportunities to participate in class and whole school activities designed to raise their self-esteem.
∙ Opportunities to develop their friendship and social skills.
∙ Curricular and extra-curricular activities to develop positive self-worth.
∙ Developing pupils’ awareness of identity-based bullying, in particular transphobic bullying for example the ‘growing up’ strand unit in S.P.H.E.
Cyber bullying includes (but is not limited to) communicating via electronic means with the objective of causing hurt, fear, embarrassment, humiliation, alarm and/or distress to one or more persons.
Cyber bullying includes the use of mobile phones and the internet with the objective of upsetting someone.
It may take the form of general insults or impersonation, defamation or prejudice-based bullying.
Unlike other forms of bullying, a once-off posting can constitute bullying.
While this policy addresses issues related to cyber bullying of students (i.e. situations in which one or more students are the victim[s] of bullying) the policy also applies to teaching and other school staff.
This policy applies to activities and events that take place:
During school time (including break times).
∙ Going to and from school;
∙ School tours/trips.
∙ Extra-curricular activities.
Castleknock National School reserves the right to take action against bullying, perpetrated outside the school, which spills over into the school.
Key measures to combat cyber bullying
The school has an Anti-Cyber Bullying Policy in place.
Staff will receive training in identifying signs of cyber bullying in order to keep up to date with the technologies that children commonly use.
Students will be informed about cyber bullying in the course of their education at the school.
A speaker will be asked to visit the school regularly to talk about cyber bullying.
Serious cyber bullying issues encouraging suicidal thoughts may be reported to the Gardaí.
Teachers/facilitator will dedicate a standalone lesson, to deal with the issue of cyber bullying annually.
Parents will periodically be invited to a talk on bullying to include cyber bullying.
Students and staff are expected to comply with the school’s policy on the use of computers in the School. (Acceptable Use (of the Internet) Policy).
Parents will be provided with information and advice on cyber bullying. (See Anti-Cyber-Bullying Policy). Parents and students are advised, via this policy, that it is illegal for a child under 13 to register with and use Facebook.
There are also restrictions on many other social media sites
Pupils are not permitted to have mobile phones in school
Teachers will investigate, record and report all incidents of cyber bullying.
Castleknock National School, endeavours to block access to inappropriate web sites, using firewalls, antivirus protection and filtering systems. Furthermore no pupil is allowed to work on the internet, in the computer room, or any other location within the school, which may, from time to time, be used for such work, without a member of staff present.
Pupils who engage in bullying will be dealt with using sanctions as per Code of Behaviour.
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 such 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, i.e. gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or race.
Compiled in consultation with staff, pupils, parents and Board of Mangement.
The policy was adopted in September, 2013.
Date of next review, September 2019.
Availability of this policy
- A copy of this policy is stored in the office and is available to parents on request.
2. This policy has been made available to school personnel and has been provided to the Parents’ Association.
3. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.
4. A copy of this policy is available on the school website.