Anti-Bullying Policy

Anti-Bullying Policy

St. Joseph’s CBS is a Catholic Secondary School under the Trusteeship of ERST. It is a Christian Community seeking to promote Gospel values, especially love and freedom, in a dynamic partnership of Students, Staff, Parents, Trustees, Board of Management and the wider community. Respect for self, for others and for the environment is a core value.  In a spirit of loving care and with a commitment to breadth, balance and excellence in education, we seek to develop the full potential of every student: academic, spiritual, moral, physical, cultural, social, emotional, aesthetic and vocational.

In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of Behaviour guidelines issued by the NEWB (Tusla), the Board of Management of St. Joseph’s Secondary 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 by the Department of Education and Skills in September 2013.

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:

  • Creating 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.

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
  • 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 education 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 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.

The Relevant Teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is the relevant Year Head assisted by the following –

  • Principal
  • Deputy Principal
  • Other Year Heads
  • Tutors
  • Class Teacher
  • Guidance Counsellor
  • Pastoral Care Team

Any teacher may act as the relevant teacher if the circumstances warrant it

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

  1. A school-wide approach to the fostering of respect for all members the school community
  2. The promotion of the value of diversity to address issues of prejudice and stereotyping, and highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour
  3. The fostering and enhancing of the self-esteem of all our pupils through both curricular and extracurricular activities. Pupils will be provided with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth through formal and informal interactions
  4. Whole staff professional development on bullying to ensure that all staff develop an awareness of what bullying is, how it impacts on pupils’ lives and the need to respond to it – prevention and intervention
  5. Professional development with specific focus on the training of the relevant teacher(s).
  6. School wide awareness raising and training on all aspects of bullying, to include pupils, parents/guardians and the wider school community
  7. Supervision and monitoring of classrooms, corridors, school grounds, school tours and extra-curricular activities. Non-teaching and ancillary staff will be encouraged to be vigilant and report issues to relevant teachers. Supervision will also apply to monitoring student use of communication technology within the school. See Acceptable Use Policy
  8. Involvement of the student council in contributing to a safe school environment e.g. Buddies and other student support activities that can help to support pupils and encourage a culture of peer respect and support
  9. Development and promotion of an Anti-Bullying code for the school to be included in student journals and displayed publicly in classrooms and in common areas of the school
  10. The school’s anti-bullying policy is discussed with pupils and all parent(s)/guardian(s). A copy is available on the school website and/or by request
  11. The implementation of regular whole school awareness measures e.g. a dedicated notice board in the school and classrooms on the promotion of friendship, and bullying prevention; anti-bullying awareness week and occasional parent(s)/guardian(s) seminars; regular student surveys; frequent school or year group assemblies by principal, deputy principal, year heads, etc
  12. Encourage a culture of telling, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders. In that way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’. This confidence factor is of vital importance.  It should be made clear to all pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not considered to be telling tales but are behaving responsibly
  13. Ensuring that pupils know who to tell and how to tell, e.g
  • 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.
  • Administer a confidential questionnaire to all pupils.
    1. Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place
    2. Identify clear protocols to encourage parent(s)/guardian(s) to approach school if they suspect that their child is being bullied
    3. The development of an Acceptable Use Policy in the school to include the necessary steps to ensure that the access to technology within the school is strictly monitored, as is the pupils’ use of mobile phones
    4. The full implementation of the SPHE and CSPE curricula and the RSE programme
    5. Continuous Professional Development for staff in delivering these programmes
    6. School wide delivery of lessons on bullying from evidence based programmes, e.g. UP2US, and On My Own Two Feet
    7. School wide delivery of lessons on Relational aggression, Cyber Bullying, Homophobic and Transphobic Diversity and Inter-culturalism
    8. The school will specifically consider the additional needs of SEN pupils with regard to programme implementation and the development of skills and strategies to enable all pupils to respond appropriately
    9. Any pupil

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:

Reporting Bullying Behaviour

Any pupil or parent(s)/guardian(s) may bring a bullying incident to any teacher in the school. All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying, will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher.

Teaching and non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus escorts, caretakers, cleaners must report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.

Investigating and Dealing with Incidents:

 The primary aim in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and to restore as far as is practicable, the relationship of the parties involved (rather than apportion blame).

In investigating and dealing with bullying, the (relevant) teacher will exercise his/her professional judgment to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved.

Parent(s)/guardian(s) and pupils are required to co-operate with any investigation and assist the school in resolving any issues and restoring, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved as quickly as possible.

Where possible, incidents will be investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved. All interviews will be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way.

Procedure for Investigating Reported Incidents of Bullying:

The relevant Year Head(s) investigate all instances of reported or suspected bullying behaviour, within the school or outside it (which impacts on the school), with a view to establishing the facts and bringing any such behaviour to an end.

When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant teacher will seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why.

The Year Head(s) will ask the students involved to write an account of what happened, as part of an investigation. This will be a standard procedure and does not necessarily imply that a student is guilty of misbehaviour.

Students who are alleged to have been involved in bullying behaviour are interviewed by a Year Head to establish the nature and extent of the behaviour and any reasons for it.

If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter all those involved may be met as a group.  At the group meeting, each member will be asked for his account of what happened to ensure that everyone in the group is clear about each other’s statement.

Each member of a group will be supported through the possible pressures that may face them from the other members of the group after the interview by the teacher.

In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the parties involved will be contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken (by reference to the school Code of Behaviour). The school will give parent(s)/guardian(s) an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports provided to the pupils.

Where the relevant year head has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it will be made clear to him how he is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts will be made to try to get him to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.

It must also be made clear to all involved (each set of pupils and parent(s)/guardian(s)) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his parent(s)/guardian(s) and the school;

Follow Up and Recording

 In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the relevant year head must, as part of his/her professional judgment, 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) or the school Principal or Deputy Principal.

Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved may 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

 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 year head.
  • While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant year head, the relevant year head must keep a written record of the reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same.
  • The relevant year head must inform the Principal/Deputy Principal of all incidents being investigated.

Informal Determination that Bullying has Occurred

  •  If it is established by the relevant year head that bullying has occurred, the relevant year head 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.

All records retained by the relevant year head will be stored according to school protocol

The school’s Programme of Support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows –

  • Pastoral care system
  • Buddy/Peer mentoring system
  • Tutor/Year head system
  • Pastoral Care team/Student Support Team

If pupils require counseling or further supports the school will endeavour to liaise with the appropriate agencies to organise same. This may be for the pupil affected by bullying or involved in the bullying behaviour.

Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and that all incidents of bullying behaviour must be reported to a teacher

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 of 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.

This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Council. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills and ERST 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.

© 2017 St. Joseph's CBS Nenagh