Anti-Bullying: Prevention and Response
St Mary’s Primary School does not tolerate bullying in any form. All members of the school staff are committed to ensuring a safe and caring environment that promotes personal growth and positive self-esteem for all.
St Mary’s Primary School “has the responsibility to promote a culture of trust, co-operation and respect in the lived experience of the Catholic Christian setting. Bullying in our school mitigates such a culture and inhibits the development of positive relational outcomes for the common good of students, teachers and care-givers.
It is St Mary’s goal to promote a safe environment where individuals may grow and develop. Well-articulated, understood and implemented policies and procedures facilitate such a goal and minimize the risk of inappropriate behaviours becoming accepted, tolerated or even endemic. “(CSO Policy Anti-Bullying: Prevention and Response, p3 Feb)
St Mary’s School will have as its goal, “…the formation of Christian disciples, with appropriate world view, character and behavior.” (Catholic Schools a the Crossroads, p14)
The modeling of positive behaviours and anti-bullying strategies in St Mary’s has become an important aspect of student learning and a parent reporting. What is critical is the: careful and well documented implementation of school policy, the inclusion of student evaluation of processes, regular policy review and dialogue at staff level and for easy policy access for parents and the community.( CSO Policy Anti-Bullying: Prevention and Response, p3 Feb )
“We now know that students’ social and emotional learning facilitates their academic learning (Zins, Weissberg, Wang and Walberg, 2004) and that a student’s level of social competence and their friendship networks are predictive of academic achievement (Caprana, Barbaranelli, Pastorelli, Bandura & Zimbardo,2000) . In summary, there are significant moral, social, emotional and educational advantages to addressing bullying problems in schools.” (McGrath and Noble 2006 – from Bullying Solutions- Evidence-based approaches to bullying in Australian schools p xvii)
Whilst there is no definitive and universally accepted definition of bullying, the most influential research in the area of what constitutes bullying has been proposed by Olweus (1993)
“… bullying may be defined as a student being exposed repeatedly and over time, to intentional injury or discomfort inflicted by one or more other students .This is may include physical contact, verbal assault, making obscene gestures or facial expressions, and intentionally excluding the student.”
The National Safe Schools Framework (2011) defines bullying as repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behavior that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons.
“..Bullying is thus conceived largely in behavioural terms, that is, it involves negative actions on the part of the perpetrator”. (Rigby 2006 Bullying Solutions p.4)
Even though Olweus and many others insist that for bullying to occur repeated actions are required, it is not unreasonable to call a single action bullying, if a ‘significant single and intense action’ has lead to trauma.
The role of St Mary’s School, in partnership with parents and caregivers, is to nurture young people by providing optimum levels of support in learning, positive interpersonal relationship experiences and social support networks. The culture and atmosphere of the school plays a significant role in students developing a balanced approach to life and learning. With this in mind, bullying behavior is in conflict with the core values and purpose of the Catholic School. Bullying needs to be recognised, named and addressed to ensure that the school can work towards an authentic Christian school culture.
“… the school must be concerned with constant and careful attention to cultivating in the students the intellectual, creative, and aesthetic faculties of the human person; to develop in them the ability to make correct use of their judgment, will, and effectivity; to promote in them a set of values; to encourage just attitudes and prudent behavior; to introduce them to the cultural patrimony handed down from previous generations; to prepare them for professional life, and to encourage the friendly interchange among students of diverse cultures and backgrounds that will lead to mutual understanding. For all these reasons, the school enters into the specific mission of the Church.”(Lay Catholics in Schools: Witness to Faitp110)
This policy aims to:
4.1 To support and reflect the Diocesan Schools Policy “Anti – Bullying: Prevention and Response
4.2 To assist St Mary’s School in the prevention, reduction and response to bullying behavior (including cyber bullying)
4.3 Promote a proactive attitude to and clear understanding of procedures to be taken when addressing allegations of bullying.
4.4 To facilitate a consistent approach to the management of St Mary’s record keeping processes in relation to bullying investigations.
4.5 To ensure the right of students and staff to expect a school that is actively promoting a school environment free from the fear of bullying, harassment, intimidation and victimization
5.1 The development of this school policy to support the Diocesan policy
5.2 Preventative Programs
5.2.1. You Can Do It!
The school actively addresses the social and emotional well-being of the students using the You Can Do It Program. This involves the five foundations of Getting Along, Confidence, Organisation, Persistence and Emotional Resilience and the explicit teaching of each of these each week.
5.2.2. Early Intervention Strategies
For a student who has been identified as being bullied or having been engaged in bullying behavior.
Contact the previous school to identify what strategies have already been put into place and maintain these strategies.
Seek the support of outside agencies: CSO staff and specialists, referring specialists, Benevolent Society, DOCS, Learning Support Teacher, Parents.
5.2.3. Resources to support the school to restore Justice
Police Liaison Officer Number: 65436999
Pastoral Care Policy
Class room teacher
Allocated Case Manager: Member of the School Executive.
Pastoral Care Worker
5.3 Reporting and Record Keeping
It is essential that records of reports and incidents are maintained in such a manner that will enable the collation of evidence and the tracking of students.
Procedure for the reporting of incidents, parents and staff is listed in Attachment 1
Timeline of investigation
Investigation into Incidents need to be conducted in as timely a fashion as possible. There are circumstances in schools which can impact on how fast an investigation can take place:
The timing of an incident. (eg) the end of the day
The availability of students to interview or gather information: A student may be away for some reason.
The availability of the member of the executive – (eg) An executive who has been monitoring behaviours may be away.
The availability of the Principal.
The nature of school life can sometimes mean that staff are involved all day in pre-scheduled parent appointments or professional development. In these cases, preventative measures such as limited access to high risk activities may be put into place until the school is able to bring its attention to the allegation at hand. This could mean restricted access to the playground, or to the class.
The complex nature of the incident may require a number of students to be interviewed in order to get a clear picture of what has taken place. This is time consuming and may mean that the investigation could take up to a week. School life needs to continue, but clearly the resolution of the incident would take priority wherever possible.
The availability of meeting with parents: I is critical that parents are included in the decision making around any incidents of bullying, particularly where violence has taken place, or where the bullying is of a serious nature which requires significant punitive action.
Medical Results: Sometimes the involvement of other agencies is also required to inform the decision making process and this can impact on the pace of final decision being made.
The school will prioritise the swift resolution within the context of the complex nature of school life. It would be hoped that even with the most serious of incidents that an investigation could be conducted and concluded with decisions being made within seven working days. In most minor incidents, one or two days should be sufficient.
Procedural Steps for the Investigation are outlined in Attachment 1
- Develop a shared understanding with staff and community members of bullying behaviour that involves all forms of bullying including cyberbullying.
- Ensure the development, implementation and evaluation of preventatives strategies and programs to promote student safety and wellbeing
- Provide support to any student who has been affected by, engaged in or witnessed bullying behaviour.
- Be responsible for the implementation of the schools anti-bullying policy and procedures.
- Initiate police –support (Police Liaison Officer) and or intervention when required.
- Provide regular updates to parents or caregivers regarding the management of specific incidents.
- Ensure that an annual communication of the contents of the policy to be made to the school community.
- Maintain an ongoing and annual evaluation process of the policy with students, staff and caregivers.
- Monitor student understanding and satisfaction of school processes.
- Identify patterns of bullying behaviour and initiate school action to address them.
- Engage students in the anti-bullying processes within the school.
The staff will:
- Respond to a student’s call for assistance, after his/ her reporting of inappropriate behaviours in relation to all forms of bullying. This includes the use of technology (ie) text messaging or social networking sites. Failure to take action may indicate a breach of duty of care owed to the student. (see Support doc 3)
- Seek advice from their supervisor(s) if they require confirmation or clarification regarding an incident of alleged bullying behaviour.
- Maintain an up to date knowledge of school policies relating to bullying behaviour.
The Students will:
- Promote positive behaviours that respect and accept individual difference and diversity.
- Work actively to act within the school rules as outlined
- To follow the school procedures in reporting and responding to bullying behaviour
- Work collaboratively with staff and peers to resolve incidents of bullying
- Have an awareness and understanding of what constitutes bullying while being charged with the responsibility of being respectful of one another.
- Participate in the annual evaluation of school anti-bullying processes and procedures.
St Mary’s School will encourage the staff to avail themselves of the Professional Development opportunities provided by the CSO each year and support this through the appropriate purchasing of resources that develop ongoing understanding and ownership of programs.
St Mary’s School will annually revisit the procedures explicit within the anti-bullying policy and evaluate their currency.
This policy will become a part of the Schools Policy review cycle.