- 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 Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine 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 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;
- fully supports the school’s Code of Courtesy
- Effective leadership
- A school-wide approach;
- A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact;
- Implementation of education and prevention strategies 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.
- The Board of Management recognises that parents are the primary educators of the students and should model appropriate standards; they should be informed of the schools anti bullying policy and expect their children to meet the standards therein.
- The Nature of Bullying
3.1 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.
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 will 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. (Copy available on school’s website www.kenmarecs.com)
3.2 Types of bullying:
The following are some of the types of bullying behaviour that can occur amongst pupils:
- Physical aggression: This behaviour includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, poking and tripping people. It may also take the form of severe physical assault.
- Intimidation: Some bullying behaviour takes the form of intimidation: it may be based on the use of very aggressive body language with the voice being used as a weapon or a facial expression which conveys aggression and/or dislike.
- Name calling: Persistent name-calling directed at the same individual(s) which hurts, insults or humiliates.
- Deliberate isolation/ exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying,
- Damage to property: This may result in damage to clothing, mobile phone or other devices, school books and other learning material or interference with a pupil’s locker or bicycle. Items of personal property may be defaced, broken, stolen or hidden.
- Extortion: Demands for money may be made, often accompanied by threats. Isolation/exclusion and other relational bullying: This occurs where a certain person is deliberately isolated, excluded or ignored by some or the entire class group.
- Cyber-bullying: abusive and malicious phone calls, text messages, e-mails and photos as well as inappropriate use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media can be a serious form of 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 educational needs.
3.3 Impacts of bullying behaviour
- Pupils who are being bullied may develop feelings of insecurity, humiliation and extreme anxiety and thus may become more vulnerable. Self-confidence may be damaged with a consequent lowering of self-esteem. While they may not talk about what is happening to them, their suffering is indicated through changes in mood and behaviour. Extreme cases of bullying may result in suicide. It is, therefore, essential to be alert to changes in behaviour as early intervention can be very effective.
- Pupils who witness bullying may also be affected and may suffer in similar ways to those who are bullied. For example, pupils who witness identity-based bullying and share that identity can experience anxiety and feel under threat themselves. Pupils can also feel guilt or distress at not being able to help the person being bullied.
- There are also consequences for individuals who engage in bullying behaviour. Pupils who become involved in such behaviour can be at higher risk of depression. Other possible long-term consequences may include an increased risk of developing an anti-social personality, anxiety disorders, a likelihood of substance abuse and law-breaking behaviour in adulthood and decreased educational and occupational attainment.
The following signs and symptoms may suggest that a pupil is being bullied:
(i) 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;
(ii) Unwillingness to go to school, refusal to attend, truancy;
(iii) Deterioration in educational performance, loss of concentration and loss of enthusiasm and interest in school;
(iv) Pattern of physical illnesses e.g. headaches, stomach aches;
(v) 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;
(vi) Visible signs of anxiety or distress e.g. stammering, withdrawing, nightmares, difficulty in sleeping, crying, not eating, vomiting, bedwetting;
(vii) Spontaneous out-of-character comments about either pupils or teachers;
(viii) Possessions missing or damaged;
(ix) Increased requests for money or stealing money;
(x) Unexplained bruising or cuts or damaged clothing; and
(xi) Reluctance and/or refusal to say what is troubling him/her.
There may be other signs depending on the individual and his/her circumstances. The above signs do not necessarily mean that a pupil is being bullied but if repeated or occurring in combination, these signs do warrant investigation in order to establish what is affecting the pupil.
3.4 Characteristics associated with Bullying:
It is important to recognise that any pupil can be bullied or can engage in bullying behaviour.
3.4.1 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 behaviour.
- 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 often suffer from a lack of confidence and have low self-esteem.
- However, it must also be recognised 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.
3.4.2 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:
(i) Fear of reprisals;
(ii) Concerns about being perceived as a “tell-tale’’ for reporting bullying;
(iii) Concerns about “getting into trouble” with the principal or teacher for reporting bullying;
(iv) Not having evidence to back up a bullying allegation;
(v) Not knowing how the matter will be dealt with by the school; and
(vi) Not feeling fully confident of being believed.
3.4.3 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, those from ethnic minority and migrant groups, pupils from the Traveller community, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) pupils and those perceived to be LGBT 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 recognise 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.
3.4.4 Where does bullying happen?
Bullying can happen anywhere at any time but there are certain times and places which particularly facilitate bullying.
- Cyber-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 schoolyard. School grounds with hidden or obscured parts may provide an environment conducive to bullying. It can 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, locker areas, changing rooms, showers, the gym and assembly hall may be the scene of verbal, psychological and physical bullying. The behaviour of pupils in those areas needs careful monitoring.
- 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 or other teachers. 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. Bullying may also occur between class periods irrespective of whether the class or the teacher moves.
- 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.
- The relevant teacher for investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying is the Yearhead of the students involved. The Principal and Deputy Principal may also be involved.
A pupil, parent or others may bring a bullying concern to any staff member in the school.
Staff members should listen empathetically and attempt to establish the basic facts i.e. who, what, where and when. They should then fill out the Template for Recording alleged Bullying Behaviour (Appendix 3, Amended) found in the Staffroom, the School Office and Teachers Handbook. This should be given to the relevant teacher i.e. the Yearhead, as soon as possible. The Yearhead will investigate the alleged bullying incident.
- The education and prevention strategies that will be used by the school are as follows:
(i) Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine will make 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.
(ii) The prevention and awareness of bullying is integral to this policy and students will, through both their curricular and extra-curricular programmes, be provided with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth/self-respect.
(iii) The focus of the School’s prevention strategy will be to build empathy, respect and resilience in students.
(i) The Year Heads will regularly address the issue of bullying, in a general way, with each Year group.
(v) The School recognises that the SPHE curriculum makes specific provision for exploring bullying as well as the inter-related areas of belonging and integrating, communication, conflict, friendship, personal safety and relationships. Also, that the Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme provides opportunities to explore and discuss areas such as human sexuality and relationships, which has particular relevance to identity-based bullying. The School will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the full potential of these programmes to combat bullying is exploited.
Furthermore, it is recognised that there is potential within the teaching of all subjects and within extracurricular activities 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.
Students will be provided with opportunities to understand the causes and effects of bullying, the issue of identity-based bullying and in particular homophobic and transphobic bullying. This will include the display of LGBT posters and discussions with parents about statements of welcome and respect for LGBT members of the school community, teaching the Social, Personal, Health Education (SPHE) resource, Growing Up LGBT and participating in LGBT awareness events.
(vi) Prevention and awareness raising measures will also deal explicitly with cyber- bullying through educating students about appropriate online behaviour, how to stay safe while on-line and also through developing a culture of reporting any concerns about or incidents of bullying to a member of the teaching staff. (Internet Safety awareness day, Cyberbullying talks etc)
(vii) The School will, in all its communications with students and their parents, commencing with the induction of the student into the School, make every effort to highlight the importance of students reporting incidents of or concerns about bullying to a member of the teaching staff on the clear understanding that these matters are being reported in confidence. More than anything else, the combating of bullying will depend on the extent to which students note and report bullying. In this context, the happiness of students is very much dependent on the vigilance of their fellow students and their preparedness to report concerns about bullying to the teaching staff and/or school management. All teaching staff will reinforce this point to students on an on-going basis.
Emphasis on the school’s Code of Courtesy has been and will be an integral part of this strategy.
(viii) The School will adopt a school-wide approach, involving management, staff, parents, students and members of the wider community with a connection to the School, to prevent and combat bullying. In this context, the School is committed to engaging with parents. Firstly, the School will involve them in the development of policies and practices to combat bullying. Secondly, the School will during information evenings for parents, ensure that they understand the way the School deals with bullying, and to provide them with reliable information on how they may contribute towards combating bullying. In this regard, it is important that parents realise that anyone can be a bully and anyone can be a target of bullying. It is not just other people’s sons and daughters that can bully. In this regard, it is important to realise that disagreements between young people are part and parcel of negotiating the road to adulthood and that every youthful disagreement should not be treated as a full-blown bullying episode.
The Parents’ Association will work in partnership with the school in raising awareness of this policy and the Parent’s Association committee can also play an important role in bringing issues, either complaints or concerns, related to this policy to the attention of the school.
(ix) The School will establish links with school bus drivers and others, such as sports coaches, etc. who come in daily contact with its students in order to enlist them in countering bullying behaviour by reporting it to parents and/or the school.
(x) The School will seek the assistance of NEPS, the HSE and the Gardaí, as appropriate, to combat bullying where it is deemed necessary.
(xi) In combating bullying, the School will take particular account of the needs of pupils with disabilities or with SEN. This will involve supporting inclusion, focusing on developing social skills, paying particular attention to student induction and cultivating a school culture that respects everyone and values helping one another.
(xii) The School will devote time for teaching and non-teaching staff, as appropriate, each school year towards: raising the awareness of bullying among staff, building an understanding of what bullying is and providing guidance on how it is best combated – prevented, detected, investigated, documented, as appropriate and resolved. This session will also provide opportunities for exploring the potential that exists within the teaching of all subjects and within extracurricular activities 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. A clear focus of all staff development around combating bullying will be the enablement of all staff to implement this policy and the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools consistently and effectively.
(xiii) The School is committed to devoting time to continuous professional development which can be accessed by all staff. All SPHE teachers will be facilitated to attend PDST organised courses.
(xiv) The School is committed to surveying the student body annually to identify the extent of bullying and, in so far as is possible, the students that are affected by it. This will be done during Mental Health Awareness Week.
(xv) The School will, each year, hold a Safe Internet Awareness day and a Friendship week to promote respect, courtesy and awareness of staying safe using modern technology.
(xvi) The School’s senior students will have a specific responsibility for recognising bullying behaviour, for bringing concerns about bullying behaviour to the attention of a teacher and for supporting vulnerable students in relation to bullying. The Peer Mentoring Programme is an important part of this vigilance and the Student Council will also be actively involved.
- 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:
(i) The primary aim for the relevant teacher in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and to restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved, rather than to apportion blame;
(ii) In investigating and dealing with bullying, the teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved;
(iii) All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. In that way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’. This confidence factor is of vital importance. It will 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;
(iv) Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus escorts, caretakers, cleaners will be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher;
(v) Parents and pupils will be 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;
(vi) It is very important that all involved (including each set of pupils and parents) understand the above approach from the outset;
(vii) Teachers should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff
(viii) Incidents are generally best investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved;
(ix) All interviews should 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;
(x) When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant teacher should seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This should be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing effectively with a conflict in a non-aggressive manner;
(xi) If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved will be met as a group. At the group meeting, each member should be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone in the group is clear about each other’s statements;
(xii) Each member of a group should be supported through the possible pressures that they may face them from the other members of the group after interview by the teacher;
(xiii) It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident(s);
(xiv) In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents of the parties involved will be contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken. The school will give parents an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports for their pupils;
(xv) Where the relevant teacher has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it will be made clear to him/her how he/she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts will be made to try to get him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied;
(xvi) It will also be made clear to all involved (each set of pupils and parents) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his or her parents and the school;
(xvii) Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved will 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. This can have a therapeutic effect;
(xviii) 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; and
- Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents or the
- school Principal or Deputy Principal;
(xix) In cases where the relevant teacher considers that the bullying behaviour has
not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, it must be recorded by the relevant teacher in the recording template at Appendix 3.
(xx) Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parents will be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures;
(xxi) In the event that a parent has exhausted the school’s complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school will advise the parents of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.
6.1 Procedures for recording bullying behaviour:
(i) While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher, the relevant teacher will use his/her professional judgement in relation to the records to be kept of these reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same;
(ii) 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.
(iii) 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.
In each of the circumstances at (a) and (b) above, the recording template at Appendix 3 must be completed in full and retained by the teacher in question and a copy provided to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable. It should also be noted that the timeline for recording bullying behaviour in the recording template at Appendix 3 does not in any way preclude the relevant
teacher from consulting the Principal or Deputy Principal at an earlier stage in relation to a case.
(iv) At least once in every school term, the Principal will provide a report to the Board of Management setting out:
- the overall number of bullying cases reported, by means of the bullying recording template in Appendix 3, to the Principal or Deputy Principal since the previous report to the Board and
- confirmation that all of these cases have been, or are being, dealt with in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy and these procedures.
- All records will be maintained in accordance with the relevant data protection legislation.
All records will be maintained in accordance with the relevant data protection legislation.
- The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:
(i) After the bullying incident has been investigated, the Yearhead will stay in touch with the students involved, stressing their continuing availability to both parties.
(ii) If deemed necessary, the student may be referred to the school chaplain and counselling with the school counsellor or an external counsellor, if appropriate, may be offered to both parties.
(iii) The Class tutors of the students involved will be informed of the matter who will then keep an eye on them within the context of the SPHE classes and Programme.
If applicable, the reporting staff member, or other will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.
Class teachers will be informed on a need-to-know basis.
- 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, race and membership of the Traveller community.
- This policy was adopted by the Board of Management in: March, 2014
- This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and is otherwise readily accessible to parents and pupils on request and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patrons 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 patrons and the Department of Education and Skills.
Date of next review: May 2015
A summary of the schools prevention strategies for the year 2013/14:
- Peer Mentoring of First year students
- SPHE curriculum
- The Code of Courtesy
- Friendship Week
- Mental Health Awareness Week
- Visiting Speakers on relevant topics
- Complimentary Sheets as part of the Code of Behaviour
- Cyberbullying awareness initiatives
- Forensic Psychologist talks on safer social media use for students and parents.
- Just Breathe Programme on Mental Health for Second Years
- Internet Safety day
- Student Council and the class representative system
This list will be reviewed annually by the Student Support committee.