Holy Family Catholic Primary School strives to create a safe and supportive environment for everyone. Our school strives to be proactive in regard to student bullying issues. Our anti-bullying strategy links closely to our student behaviour management / discipline policy. As well, it connects to our pastoral care dimensions at the school. Important aspects of our anti-bullying policy include:
Bullying is repeated incidents involving:
- a bigger, stronger or more powerful child on a smaller or weaker child, or
- a group of children on a single child.
These might be:
- Verbal: the child is called names, put down, threatened, teased.
- Physical: the child is hit, tripped, poked, kicked, punched or belongings are stolen or damaged.
- Social: the child is left our, excluded, ignored, or rumours are spread.
- Psychological: the child is stalked or given dirty looks.
Bullying is different from ordinary teasing, rough-and-tumble or school yard interactions. What makes it different is that the incidents are ongoing, and there is usually an imbalance of size, strength and power between the children involved.
The bully might have power not only because he or she is bigger or stronger, but because other children side with the bully often to protect themselves.
- Boys are more often bullied by a single individual; girls more often by groups. There is not much difference between the number of boys and girls who suffer from bullying.
- The size of the school, or whether the school is single-sex or co-educational or government, makes not significant difference to the amount of bullying that goes on.
- Children are most often bullied when they are in their first few years of primary school and again in their first few years of secondary school.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIGNS?
Bullying may be very hard to see. Victims may already be having trouble getting on with their children or with teachers. They are often picked on by bullies for this reason.
Bullying usually happens out of sight, away from teachers or other adults. The people who are most likely to know what is going of are other children.
Children who are being bullied often don’t like to tell anyone because they feel weak or ashamed, or are frightened that it will only make things worse. They also feel it is wrong to ‘dob in’ or tell tales on other children.
If they tell anyone, it is most likely they will tell their parents – usually their mother – or their friends before they will tell a teacher.
Some tell-tale signs are:
- bruises, scratches or cuts that your child can’t really explain;
- torn or damaged clothing;
- damaged or missing belongings;
- headaches, stomach aches and other pains that the child can’t put a finger on;
- unexplained tears or depression;
- unusual outbursts of tantrums;
- not wanting to go to school;
- not wanting to play with friends;
- wanting changes in the way he or she travels to and from school;
- school work falls off in quality; and
- possibly wanting extra money without giving a reason.
STATEMENT OF POLICY ON BULLYING
- Holy Family Catholic Primary School is opposed to bullying in all its forms – physical, emotional and verbal.
- The school seeks to counter views that bullying is an acceptable part of life and through educational programs and example encourages parents, staff and students to build a climate of respect and care for others.
- The school endeavours to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for its students.
- The school has a pastoral care policy as well as reporting and discipline measures which ensure cases of bullying are dealt with.
- The school offers to support victims of bullying and aims to reform those who engage in bullying behaviour.
- The staff are committed to professional development towards understanding and managing bullying.
OUR OVERALL 'ANTI-BULLYING STRATEGY' INCLUDES:
What Teachers Can Do To Assist?
By the time children tell their teachers they are being bullied, they may have tried everything they can to deal with it on their own. Telling teachers is often a very hard step to take.
Children need to:
- feel believed and listened to;
- develop trust in how teachers will handle it;
- talk more openly about what has happened;
- gain some control over what is happening;
- learn things they can do to protect themselves; and
- regain self confidence
At Holy Family Catholic Primary School we encourage:
- Regular class reminders by teachers about school rules, behaviour issues, and bullying.
- Regular whole school reminders about school rules at morning assemblies. (By teachers and executive.)
- Use of a weekly ‘Social Skills Program’. This focus is on good manners, common courtesies, anti-bullying ideas for children, use of posters. eg. ‘TEASING HURTS’, ‘Kind words make us happy, mean words make us sad’
- Some use of the ‘anti-bullying’ module for our ‘Care Groups’. (Peer Support Foundation Program).
- Engagement of theatrical shows for students that give a positive anti-bullying message.
- Principal/Assistant Principal to visit classes/grades to specifically discuss bullying issues as needed.
- As a school, we aim to keep a POSITIVE FOCUS as well.
- As teachers we endeavour to:
- LISTEN TO THE VICTIM.
- TAKE THE VICTIM SERIOUSLY.
- Make sure the children are not ‘fobbed off’.
- Be consistent in our dealings with children.’
- FOLLOW THROUGH our own detentions/punishments. (Students are not to be left alone for detention.)
- Support one another.
- Support the school routines. Eg lunch eating – insist on all children sitting down.
- Tell students if they are being bullied they need to feel safe in telling a teacher. And at worse, they should keep going until someone does listen.
- As teachers, we will engage in professional development in the area of bullying, behaviour management and discipline.
- The school will endeavour to provide teaching/learning resources appropriate to educating students on bullying.
- Consider other possible anti-bullying programs as appropriate.
RESPONSIBILITIES TOWARDS BULLYING
- To help create a safe and supportive school environment for everyone.
- To encourage students to “break the silence” of bullying and report incidences.
- To model appropriate behaviour at all times.
- To follow this policy in dealing with all reports of bullying.
- To ensure that all students are actively supervised during designated periods – arriving to class or playground duty on time.
- To respond in an appropriate and timely manner to every incident of bullying.
- To be observant of signs of distress or suspected incidents of bullying.
- To report serious cases of bullying to School Executive.
- To follow up on reported cases.
- To actively discourage subtle forms of harassment within the class, emphasising no put-down behaviours/communications.
- To protect a victim from further harm/or risk.
- To actively promote and encourage a culture of zero tolerance.
- To keep accurate notes on cases of bullying.
- To report if they are being bullied or if they see someone else being bullied – both at school or in transit to and from school.
- To behave respectfully towards fellow students and not be involved in any form of harassment.
- To help someone who is being bullied.
- To be a proactive community member, breaking the silence, making comment and discouraging the bully(ies).
- To watch for signs that their children may be being bullied eg. signs of distress, headaches, damaged clothes, bruising and an unwillingness to attend school.
- To speak to relevant school personnel if their child is being bullied, or if they suspect that this is happening.
- To assist their children in understanding bullying behaviour.
- To instruct their children to report if they are being bullied.
- To support their children in developing positive responses to incidents of harassment.
- To attend interviews if their child is involved in a bullying/harassment incident.
- To inform the school of any suspected cases that are not related to their child.
- To inform students, staff, parents of the Anti-Bullying and Discipline Policy.
- To keep adequate records of bullying incidents.
- To provide students with strategies to respond to incidents of bullying, including responsibilities as observers/bystanders.
- To follow-up complaints of bullying, harassment and intimidation.
- To protect and support the victim of bullying and to assure that he/she will not be bullied in the future.
- To assist the bully to change his/her behaviour.
- To continually consider a whole school approach to developing strategies to eliminate bullying and teach our students the skills which will build self-esteem and empower them to take responsibility for themselves.
- To communicate openly with parents eg. interviews, phone calls, newsletter inserts.
Dept of Education, Training and Youth Affairs 2000 “Bullying: Information For Parents.”
CYBERBULLYING AND DEFAMATION
The NSW Police define cybrbullying as, “… the use of e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, pagers, cell phones, or other forms of information technology to deliberately harass, threaten, or intimidate someone.”.
Australian law defines defamation as “… a person who ‘publishes’ an assertion of fact or a comment that:
- Injures – or, importantly, is ‘likely’ to injure – the personal, professional, trade or business reputation of an individual or a company;
- exposes them to ridicule or;
- cause people to avoid them.”
If a case of cyberbullying affects a student outside of school, the following course of action should be taken:
- The student immediately informs his/her parents/carers.
- The abuse is reported to the website owner or webmaster.
- If the concern is considered criminal (eg threatening violence, child pornography) then the police should be informed immediately.
Our school recognises that the majority of cases of cyberbullying or defamation occur outside of its controlled network. However, to ensure that students and parents are aware of the correct actions to take, this policy includes protection for its own name, its crest and staff members as well.
A case of cyberbulling/defamation against a staff member(s) or the school occurs if:
- A video or image of a school staff member(s) is placed on a public website without the permission of the staff member(s).
- Information about staff member(s), including their name, is placed on a public website without the permission of the staff member(s).
- Our school name or crest is published on a public website without the permission of the Principal or Catholic Education Office.
Cases of cyberbullying or defamation of staff will be seriously dealt with by the Principal in accordance to the rules outlined in the policy and all other school based discipline policies.
“Bullying issues in schools are not new and each school will have encountered them in various ‘direct contact forms. The strategies that are engaged by the school’s policies, to proactively create bullying free environments, are the same strategies that need to apply to the prevention of cyberbullying. Young people need to grow in their appreciation of the dignity and respect deserved by all and how powerfully negative, even a single incidence of bullying, can be. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Luke 6:31 underpins our Catholic teaching in this regard.”
(From: Catholic Education Office ‘Strategies for Dealing with Cyberbullying’ 2008)
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Holy Family Catholic Primary School is committed to always improving and developing a school climate that is bully-free. We recognise that bullying can be a school issue and that management of bullying is linked to our discipline policy as well as our pastoral care policy.