Anti Bullying Policy

Rationale

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 St. Mel’s College, Longford 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 (and Trustee) has a statutory obligation to ensure that a policy

is in place that reflects the principles and values of the religious and educational philosophy

of the school. Involving and encouraging all members of the school community in developing, formulating and reviewing this policy on bullying promotes partnership, ownership and implementation of a living policy.

This policy applies to all members of the whole school community in their relationships with students i.e. students, teachers, management, board of management, parents, office and all ancillary staff.

Links to Mission Statement and School Ethos

“St. Mel’s College is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in all areas of education. Our aim is to generate and maintain an inclusive climate of learning within which every pupil is encouraged, supported and enabled to develop and fulfil his own unique potential.”

From the inspiration of Bishop Kilduff who founded the school, and from the Catholic Church dedication, which supported, enabled and still maintains the school, we have inherited our commitment:

  • to learn to think independently,
  • to tolerate and value diversity,
  • to respect ourselves and each other and
  • to be responsible for ourselves and to society.

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-build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, 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.

Definition of Bullying used in formulation this Policy

Agreed School Definition Adopted September 2013: Bullying consists of repeated inappropriate behaviour whether by word, by physical action or otherwise, directly or indirectly applied by one or more persons against another person or persons, which is hurtful or upsetting and undermines the individual person’s right to personal dignity.

Note: This is not to be confused with the good-natured banter that goes on as part of the normal social interchange between students or the normal professional classroom management by teachers.

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: (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Humiliation, including name-calling, reference to academic ability or personal characteristics.
  •  Repeated denigration of a person’s colour, race, religion or real or suggested gender orientation.
  • Intimidation, including aggressive use of body language.
  • Verbal abuse, anonymous or otherwise.
  • Physical abuse or threatened abuse.
  • Aggressive or obscene language.
  • Offensive jokes, whether spoken or by email, text messaging or otherwise.
  • Victimisation, including very personal remarks.
  • Exclusion and/or isolation.
  • Intrusion through interfering with personal possessions or locker.
  • Threats, including demands for money.
  • An attack on an individual’s reputation by rumour, gossip, innuendo or ridicule.
  • Knowingly spreading rumours
  • Any of the above exercised or orchestrated through the use of electronic media cyber bullying

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.

Anti Bullying Team 2013-2014

Regina Dolan, Michael Kenny, Fr Joe McGrath and Sive Mc Guinness. Where necessary the Principal Declan Rowley and Career Guidance Counsellor Hazel Concar will be informed. Every effort will be made through consultation with Year Heads, Class Tutors, prefects and teachers to identify incidents of bullying. Chain of support: Student / Buddy / Class Prefect / Class Tutor / Year Head / Deputy Principal /Principal / Board of Management.

Education and Prevention Strategies

The education and prevention strategies that will be used by the school are as follows:

  • The school uses a programme of support www.antibullyingcampaign.ie for both the targeted student and the student involved in bullying behaviour.
  • All year groups follow the S.P.H.E. (Social, Personal and Health Education) programme, which incorporates information on the nature and unacceptability of bullying and educates and encourages students to recognise, reject and report bullying if they see it.
  • An additional programme of awareness raising exercises is carried out with each class group each year in normal class time to increase awareness about the harmful nature and unacceptability of bullying behaviour. This is done through the anti bulling survey which is carried out twice a year.
  • A Mentor/Buddy system, where 4th year & TY students are paired with 1st year students at the start of the new academic year; training will be provided for the 4th year students on how to be a good mentor/buddy. This pairing will continue for four terms – i.e. until Christmas of the following year or for as long as is practicable.
  • New students, who join the school at other times, are also allocated a peer/mentor – ideally, this is another student from within the same year group/class.
  • Positive reinforcement of behaviour for the better good of the community is encouraged through reports, diary entries, reports on VS Ware (pc monitoring and reporting system) and parent teacher meetings.

Procedures for noting, reporting and investigating incidents of bullying behaviour

The school’s procedures for investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behaviour and the established intervention strategies used by the school for dealing with cases of bullying behaviour are as follows:

  • Students are encouraged to discuss any incident of bullying with a teacher, class tutor or another trusted adult; this is responsible behaviour rather than “telling tales.”
  • Parents/guardians should contact the Class Tutor, Year Head, Deputy Principal, Principal regarding incidents of bullying behaviour which they might suspect or that have come to their attention through their children or other parents.
  • Incidents of bullying behaviour, no matter how trivial, which are drawn to the attention of a teacher, will be dealt with in the following manner:
  • Records will be kept of all alleged incidents and of the procedures followed.
  • A survey will be conducted to corroborate and/or to get as much information as possible about the alleged bullying.
  • Appropriate personnel will interview all of the students alleged to be involved in bullying behaviour.
  • All interviews will be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils involved.
  • If there is no recurrence of the bullying behaviour the matter will be considered resolved.
  • If the behaviour persists, the Year Head and the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the targeted student and the student involved in bullying behaviour will be informed. Thus, they will be given the opportunity to discuss the matter and to help and support their children before a crisis occurs.

Programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:

Every person in the school is entitled to respect and to be free of any type of bullying.

The school will work proactively, as far as it can, to ensure that bullying does not take place.

Reporting incidents of bullying is responsible behaviour.

A record will be kept of all reported incidents of bullying.

The matter will be dealt with seriously and sensitively.

Appropriate action will be taken to ensure that bullying does not continue.

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. We use the awareness campaign outlined by anti bullying campaign which was the framework documents for the DES policy guidelines www.antibullyingcampaign.ie

Role of Parents

Parents have a critical role in assuring the success of the Anti Bullying Policy in St. Mel’s College. The Parents Association will be issued the draft policy for discussion and their comments will be taken on board during the ratification process of the policy.

Once ratified the school management and anti bullying team need the support of parents in ensuring its success. Where parents believe their son is being bullied or have noticed a change in his behaviour parents are encouraged to contact the school so that the bullying allegation can be dealt with per the school policy of no blame and reform. Where a parent reports a bullying incident the matter will be dealt with by the school and the parent will be informed when the matter has been resolved. If this initial intervention is successful the alleged perpetrator will not be punished and no formal account of it will be kept (apart from on the bullying report kept by the anti bullying team). There will be no discipline issued on a first allegation. If it persists the bullying then becomes a discipline issue and parents, year head, and Principal will be informed.

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.

Dignity in the Workplace Charter:

We at St Mel’s College commit ourselves to working together to maintain a workplace environment that encourages and supports the right to dignity at work. All who work here are expected to respect the right of each individual to dignity in their working life. All will be treated equally and respected for their individuality and diversity. Bullying in any form is not accepted by us and will not be tolerated. Our policies and procedures will underpin the principles and objectives of this Charter. All individuals, whether directly employed or contracted by us, have a duty and a responsibility to uphold this Dignity at Work Charter. Supervisors, Managers and Trade Union Representatives where applicable in the workplace have a specific responsibility to promote its provisions. All agree that the Dignity at Work Charter will be complied with and copies of the Charter will be exhibited in prominent locations throughout the School.

Monitoring implementation:

Parents/guardians and all members of staff may monitor implementation; a briefing from the anti-bullying coordinator will be included on the agenda for teaching staff meetings at least once a year.

Review and evaluation:

A full review of this policy will be conducted every three years; annual evaluations through random surveys drawn up by any of the three education partners will be facilitated to ascertain the level and type of bullying behaviour in the school.

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.

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.

This policy was adopted by the Board of Management May 2014.