DCS Anti-Bullying Policy

  1. 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 Douglas Community 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.

This policy aims to assist in the creation of a safe and secure learning environment for all our students as outlined in our school mission statement

2. 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 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); and
    • On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

3. 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,
  • cyber-bullying and
  • identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying, transphobic 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.

Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the 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.

4. The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:

The Class Tutors and the Year Heads. Any teacher may act as the relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it. The whole school staff will ensure that Douglas Community School is a safe environment where students rights to a positive school experience are fulfilled.

5. The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows:

The School makes it clear to all members of the school community that bullying of any kind is unacceptable, irrespective of whether it is a student, a staff member or any other person that is the subject of such behaviour. The prevention and awareness of bullying is integral to this policy and a student will, through both curricular and extracurricual programmes be provided with opportuinities to develop a positive sense of self worth and self respect. The Anti Bullying Policy will be promoled through Curricular subjects such as SPHE, CSPE and RSE.  The Anti Bullying Policy will be promoted at enrolment and induction nights and at parent-teacher meetings.

The Douglas Community School Information Technology Policy which incorporates education and information on Cyberbullying will be distributed to parents and students.  Parents and students during re-registration will indicate that the policy has been read and agreed to be adhered to. The Anti-Bullying Policy will be promoted through the Buddy System which provides an added pastoral structure for Year 1 students.

Students will be given clear guidelines as to who to tell and how to tell if bullying is taking place such as:

Direct approach to teacher at an appropriate time, for example, after class.

Hand note up with homework.

Make a phone call to the school or to a trusted teacher in the school.

Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.

Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.

6. Douglas Community School has a proactive policy towards the elimination of bullying.   Bullying is unwanted negative behaviour, verbal psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated overtime.

“The role of the school is to provide the highest possible standard of education for all its pupils.  A stable, secure learning environment is an essential requirement to achieve this goal.  Bullying behaviour by its very nature undermines and dilutes the quality of education and imposes psychological damage.”

Department of Education.

 

Bullying affects not only the victim but the entire class, school and outside community.  Bullying thrives in a secretive atmosphere and it is controllable only when the whole school community accepts that they are being responsible when they report bullying.

Bullying Behaviours

•           Physical Aggression: This includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, tripping people and occasionally severe physical assaults.  “Mess” fights can be used to disguise more serious intentions.

•           Damage to Property: Damage to personal property – bicycles, clothes, books, pencil cases and bags can be broken, torn, hidden or defaced.

•           Extortion: Victims can be forced to hand over money or steal for the bully.  Threats of physical violence if victims do not comply.

•           Intimidation: This is where aggressive body language is used as a weapon, including the voice and “the look”.

•           Abusive Phone Calls: Anonymous phone calls or phone calls of a threatening nature are identified as verbal intimidation.

•           Isolation: Being deliberately isolated, ignored or excluded from group activities is bullying.  It is usually set up by one person and is accompanied by notes, drawings, comments loud enough to be heard, groups giggling/laughing when victim is near.

•           Name Calling: Persistent name calling directed at the same person, which hurts or humiliates is a form of bullying.  Most refer to physical appearance or academic ability (both high and low).

•           “Slagging”: “Slagging” can be simply good-natured banter/teasing between friends but when this is repeated and personal it becomes bullying.

•           Sexual Harassment: Remarks of a suggestive/sexual nature or about a persons sexual orientation are forms of bullying.

•          Cyber Bullying:  using mobile phones, emails or social network internet sites to mock, ridicule, intimidate, isolate or demean another person in any of the ways described above.

Cyber Bullying

While we must provide the highest protection possible for students using new technologies, families must also foster a balance between protecting children and teaching them to be aware of potential dangers and assessing threats for themselves. Encouraging students to talk about issues they come across online is a step towards building trust in young people’s ability to use the internet and mobile phones responsibly and to safeguard themselves and their peers against those who use the internet to threaten their welfare. (Barnados, 2009)

Cyber bullying involves using the Internet or mobile phones to send hurtful messages or posting information to damage people’s reputation and friendships. Cyber bullying is similar to other types of bullying, except that it takes place online and through text messages sent to mobile phones. Cyber bullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even anonymous users, but most often they do know their victims.

Preventing cyber bullying in our school

The Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) ensures the following:

• Supervision is always in place when students are online.
• Websites are previewed and evaluated.
• Firewalls and filters have been installed in all computers and these are regularly updated.
• Students’ internet usage will be monitored by checking user files, temporary files and history files.
• Students do not have sanctioned access to MSN or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The ways that young people can bully online are:

• Sending someone mean or threatening emails, instant messages, or text messages.
• Sending photos without permission being sought or granted.
• Excluding someone from an instant messenger, friends/buddy list or blocking an email for no reason.
• Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.
• Using someone’s password or breaking into someone’s email or instant message account to send cruel or untrue messages while posing as that person.
• Creating websites to make fun of another person such as a classmate or teacher.
• Uploading photos to social networking sites without permission being sought or granted
• Using websites to rate peers.
• Leaving hurtful comments on social networking sites such Facebook or Twitter.

Douglas Community School teaches students that all types of bullying including cyber bullying is hurtful and wrong. Students are encouraged to treat other students on and offline with respect. The whole school community is informed and educated with regard to the school’s Acceptable Use Policy. All members of the school community are fully aware of the sanctions that will be imposed for the misuse of school computers to cause hurt and distress to other members. Students are made aware of their rights and responsibilities online and offline as part of the implementation of the school’s AUP. Students are taught that the Internet is not a private place and they should guard their private information online. The AUP policy promotes the positive use of technology, discusses etiquette and personal safety issues. Our school encourages a ‘telling’ atmosphere, including the reporting of cyber bullying. The ethos of our school community is to encourage students to make friends and promote positive well-being and a supportive atmosphere in the school .

Parents’ response to cyber bullying

• Offer support and reassurance to your son.
• Help your son to keep relevant evidence for investigation by printing webpages and by
not deleting mobile messages.
• Show your son how to prevent it happening again by changing password and contact details, blocking contacts, reporting abuse on site.

• Ensure that the student knows not to retaliate or return the message.
• Encourage the student to keep personal information private online.
• Insist that your son never, ever gives his personal password to another person, even
a friend.
• Insist that your son never accepts as a “an online friend” a stranger whom they do not
know in real life.

Incidents of cyber bullying that take place outside and affect a student in school will be brought to the attention of parents/guardians. In regard to serious incidents of this type of bullying behaviour it may be appropriate to inform the Gardaí.

Investigating Incidents:

Parents must take full responsibility for their son’s inappropriate use of the Internet or mobile phones outside school. All incidents of cyber bullying that have their origins in school will be fully investigated, recorded and dealt with under the procedures laid down in the Code of Behaviour, the Anti-Bullying Policy and Acceptable Use Policy. Sanctions laid down in these policies will be adhered to in response to inappropriate use of media and information technology

Warning Signs of Bullying

Bullying has an effect on victims of lowering self esteem and confidence and causes insecurity and anxiety.  While they may not talk about it, their suffering can often be obvious in mood changes and behaviour.  Early intervention and recognition is vital.

•           Anxiety travelling to and from school.  Asking parents to pick them up, avoiding regular times or routes.

•           Unwillingness or refusal to go to school, mitching.

•           Deterioration in school work, interest, enthusiasm, concentration.

•           Pattern of minor physical illness (headache, stomach ache etc.).

•           Unexplained changes of mood, especially after holidays, week-ends.

•           Visible signs of distress/anxiety (vomiting, crying, sleeplessness, not eating, withdrawing, bedwetting, nightmares, stammering).

•           Out of character outbursts about other students or teachers.

•           Possessions missing or damaged.

•           Increasingly requesting/stealing money.

•           Unexplained bruises, cuts or torn clothing.

•           Reluctance/refusal to talk about what is wrong.

Where does bullying go on?

•           Playground/Sports field – physical contact and noise levels often mask bullying.

•           Toilets, cloakrooms, showers, etc.

•           Corridors

•           Local shops etc.

•           On way to school

•           Classes – Subtle glances, comments, notes, pinches etc.

Reporting Procedure

Bullying must be reported in all instances.

Anyone may report it:- victim, parents, friends, other students, by direct report, letter, phone-call, class comment or essay to any staff member.

Once a report is made

•           The staff member receiving the report will as soon as possible report the allegations to Principal or Deputy Principal or Year Tutor.

•           The staff member will inform the Class Tutor and the Year Tutor.  The Year Tutor will co-ordinate all information and monitors of all instances of bullying in his/her year group.

•           The Class Tutor will discuss strategies with pastoral team (Principal, Deputy Principal, Year Tutors, Guidance Counsellor, Chaplain and Learning Support Coordinator ).

•           The staff involved in dealing with the case will subsequently monitor behaviour of bullies and report any change (or lack of it) to the Year Tutor and Class Tutor.

How bullying is dealt with

Confidentiality is essential.  Those who report must feel confident that the information will not be repeated outside the agreed structure.

It is vital that information is acted upon as quickly and discreetly as possible and is not ignored.

The most effective approach is low key.

The victim and alleged bully will be spoken to separately.

The victim will be interviewed to express support, to gather information, to assure him that action will be taken and to explain that action.

The pastoral care team will assist the victim in coping with the results of being bullied and in developing ways of dealing with any possible future incidents.

The alleged bully will be interviewed to present the reported information, to gather further information and to confirm or deny the allegations.

If bullying is confirmed

Parents of the victim and the bully will be informed.

The bully will be advised that the reported behaviour must cease.

Positive changes in the bully’s behaviour will be encouraged and rewarded.  The bully may need help in understanding his/her behaviour and learning new and more appropriate ways of behaving .

The bully and his parents will be clearly informed that any further instance of bullying will result in suspension or dismissal.

In cases where school rules have been broken (e.g. fighting, deliberate injury, damage to victim’s property etc.) normal disciplinary action will be taken.

Staff members/Class Tutor/Year Tutors will monitor the on-going situation and discreetly check back with the victim/friends later.

The Pastoral Care Team will monitor the investigation of an alleged incident of bullying.

A record of confirmed incidents of bullying will be kept which will be copied and forwarded to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.

Follow up and recording

In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the relevant teacher must, as part of his/her professional judgement, take the following factors into account:

– Whether the bullying behaviour has ceased;

– Whether any issues between the parties have been resolved as far as is practicable;

-Whether the relationships between the parties have been restored as far as is practicable;

-Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parent(s)/guardian(s)s or the school Principal or Deputy Principal

Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved should be arranged separately with a view to possibly bringing them together at a later date if the pupil who has been bullied is ready and agreeable.

Where a parent(s)/guardian(s) is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parent(s)/guardian(s) must be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures.

In the event that a parent(s)/guardian(s) has exhausted the school’s complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parent(s)/guardian(s) of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Pupils. 

Recording of bullying behaviour

It is imperative that all recording of bullying incidents must be done in an objective and factual manner.

The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour are as follows:

Informal- pre-determination that bullying has occurred

All staff must keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them. All incidents must be reported to the relevant teacher

While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher, the relevant teacher must keep a written record of the reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same

The relevant teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.

 

Informal-determination that bullying has occurred

If it is established by the relevant teacher that bullying has occurred, the relevant teacher must keep appropriate written records which will assist his/her efforts to resolve the issues and restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved.

The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 3 to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances:

a) in cases where he/she considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour occurred; and

b) Where the school has decided as part of its anti-bullying policy that in certain circumstances bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.

The school should list behaviours that must be recorded and reported immediately to the principal. These should be in line with the school’s code of behaviour.
7.  The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:

a. Students who have been involved in bullying incidents will be advised by Class Tutor/Year Head/Deputy Principal of the availability of the Guidance Counsellor/Chaplain.

b. The target of bullying may receive counselling to help him regain his self esteem where affected.

c.  The student involved in the bullying may also receive counselling to give him the opportunity to learn other ways of meeting his needs without violating the rights of others.

d. Students who witnessed bullying are encouraged to discuss it with a teacher and if assistance with a Counsellor/Chaplain is required, their availability will be ascertained.

8. 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.

9. 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, race and membership of the Traveller community.

10. This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on ________________________ .

11. This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.

12. This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. Written notification that the review has been completed will be made available to school personnel, published on the school website  and provided to the Parents’ Association. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the patron and the Department.

 

Signed: _______________________________  Signed:_________________________

(Chairperson of Board of Management)                            (Principal)

 

Date: _______________________                      Date: __________________________

 

Date of next review: __________________ 

 

Checklist for the annual review of the DCS Anti-Bullying Policy and its implementation.

 

The DCS Board of Management (the Board) must undertake an annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation. The following checklist must be used for this purpose. The checklist is an aid to conducting this review and is not intended as an exhaustive list.  In order to complete the checklist, an examination and review involving both quantitative and qualitative analysis, as appropriate across the various elements of the implementation of the school’s anti-bullying policy will be required.

Yes /No

Has the Board formally adopted an anti-bullying policy that fully complies with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools?
Has the Board published the policy on the school website and provided a copy to the parents’ association?
Has the Board ensured that the policy has been made available to school staff (including new staff)?
Is the Board satisfied that school staff are sufficiently familiar with the policy and procedures to enable them to effectively and consistently apply the policy and procedures in their day to day work?
Has the Board ensured that the policy has been adequately communicated to all pupils?
Has the policy documented the prevention and education strategies that the school applies?
Have all of the prevention and education strategies been implemented?
Has the effectiveness of the prevention and education strategies that have been implemented been examined?
Is the Board satisfied that all teachers are recording and dealing with incidents in accordance with the policy?
Has the Board received and minuted the periodic summary reports of the Principal?
Has the Board discussed how well the school is handling all reports of bullying including those addressed at an early stage and not therefore included in the Principal’s periodic report to the Board?
Has the Board received any complaints from parents regarding the school’s handling of bullying incidents?
Have any parents withdrawn their child from the school citing dissatisfaction with the school’s handling of a bullying situation?
Have any Ombudsman for Children investigations into the school’s handling of a bullying case been initiated or completed?
Has the data available from cases reported to the Principal (by the bullying recording template) been analysed to identify any issues, trends or patterns in bullying behaviour?
Has the Board identified any aspects of the school’s policy and/or its implementation that require further improvement?
Has the Board put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement?

 

Signed _____________________________________                        Date ________________

Chairperson, Board of Management

 

Signed _____________________________________                  Date ________________

Principal

 

Notification regarding the DCS Board of Management’s annual review of the DCS Anti-Bullying Policy.

To: _____________________________________

The Board of Management of  Douglas Community School wishes to inform you that:

  • The Board of Management’s annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation was completed at the Board meeting of _______________ [date].
  • This review was conducted in accordance with the checklist set out in Appendix 4 of the Department’s Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.

Signed _____________________________________                           Date ________________

Chairperson, Board of Management

Signed _____________________________________                       Date ________________

 

Principal 

 

DCS Bullying Record Form

 

1. Name of pupil being bullied and class group

 

Name _________________________________________Class__________________

 

2. Name(s) and class(es) of pupil(s) engaged in bullying behaviour

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

3. Source of bullying concern/report (tick relevant box(es))* 4. Location of incidents (tick relevant box(es))*
Pupil concerned Playground
Other Pupil Classroom
Parent Corridor
Teacher Toilets
Other School Bus
Other

5. Name of person(s) who reported the bullying concern

 

6. Type of Bullying Behaviour (tick relevant box(es)) *

Physical Aggression Cyber-bullying
Damage to Property Intimidation
Isolation/Exclusion Malicious Gossip
Name Calling Other (specify)

 

7.  Where behaviour is regarded as identity-based bullying, indicate the relevant category:

 

Homophobic Disability/SEN related Racist Membership of Traveller community Other (specify)

 

8. Brief Description of bullying behaviour and its impact

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Details of  actions taken
 

 

 

 

 

Signed ___________________________ (Relevant Teacher)   Date ________________________

 

Date submitted to Principal/Deputy Principal ___________________