Bullying is not acceptable in St. Finian’s College and will not be tolerated.
1. The Board of Management of St. Finian’s College, Mullingar is committed to providing all students with an environment that is free from any form of bullying. This commitment is expressed in the College Charter. The school has a central role in our students’ social, moral development just as it does in their academic progress. In school, we work towards standards of behaviour based on the basic principles of honesty, respect, consideration, responsibility, truthfulness and courtesy. The individuality of each student needs to be accommodated while at the same time acknowledging the right of every student to an education in an environment free of disruption.
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. Finian’s College 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.
Aims of the Policy
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:
The following are some practical tips for immediate actions that can be taken to help build a positive school culture and climate and to help prevent and tackle bullying behaviour.
3. In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools bullying is defined as follows:
‘Unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated overtime’.
In other words bullying can be defined as repeated aggression whether it is verbal, psychological or physical, which is conducted by an individual or a group against others.
It is behaviour which is intentionally aggravating and intimidating. It includes behaviour such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting, exclusion or extortion by one or more pupils against a victim. Bullying behaviour also includes cyber bullying, abusive calls/texts, abusive emails, and abusive website comments. Bullying behaviour thrives in an atmosphere of uncertainty and secrecy in which the victim often feels a sense of hopelessness.
Isolated instances of aggressive behaviour, which would be dealt with under the Code of Behaviour, would not be described as bullying. However when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing, it is bullying.
Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.
What is psychological bullying?
Psychological bullying is similar to playing mind games and can be particularly intimidating for its victim. Malicious rumours are an insidious form of this bullying which attacks a person’s self-image, while hurtful facial looks expressing aggression and/or dislike are more subtle but equally damaging. This type of bullying is intended to cause severe emotional distress.
Psychological bullying includes:
· Spreading rumours or lies
· Passing notes or drawings
· Writing remarks in public places
· Using peer pressure to intimidate
· Threatening gestures or looks
What is verbal bullying?
Verbal bullying is highly personal in nature and leaves its victim feeling angry, frightened and powerless. It is typically directed at the young person’s family, culture, race or religion or indeed at any small thing that makes them slightly different such as a physical trait or perceived academic ability. Due to technological advances, cyberbullying is a new dynamic which engages the internet, mobile phones and other technology to abuse its victims.
Verbal bullying includes:
· Dangerous dares
· Abusive anonymous phone calls
What is physical bullying?
What may be written off as “horseplay” or “mess fights” within the context of bullying can often be a disguise or precursor of more serious physical assaults. While both boys and girls participate in physical bullying, boys are more prone to it given stronger tendencies towards physical aggression. Young children especially are vulnerable to extortion bullying where things such as money, possessions, equipment, lunch vouchers or even food, are demanded from them and threats for not “paying up” are made.
Physical bullying includes:
· Hitting, beating or punching
· Pulling or pushing
· Damaging property or possessions
· Demanding money or possessions
· Forcing into theft
· Locking in or out of a space
· Throwing objects
· Threatening with a weapon
· Inflicting bodily harm
· Humiliating acts (e.g. “wedgies” or pulling up of skirts)
What is cyber bullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as mobile phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites
What is Identity Based Bullying?
Including any of the nine discriminatory grounds mentioned in Equality Legislation (gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community).
Homophobic and Transgender
Race, nationality, ethnic background and membership of the Traveller community
This involves manipulating relationships as a means of bullying. Behaviours include:
Special Educational Needs,
Some indications of bullying
These are all signs of a variety of problems as well as bullying.
The school acknowledges that there are three parties involved in bullying – those who bully, those who are bullied and those who witness the bullying. Staff and teachers bear this in mind when dealing with bullying incidences and try to support and work with all parties involved.
Procedures for noting and reporting incidents
Student to Student Bullying
4. The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:
5. Prevention of Bullying
6. Procedures for Investigation
The primary aim 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).
With this in mind 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) In investigating and dealing with bullying, the investigating teacher(s) will exercise his/her/their professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred, what type if it has and how best the situation might be resolved.
(ii) All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the investigating teacher(s) initially. In that way, students will gain confidence in reporting. This confidence factor is of vital importance. It should be made clear to all students that when they report incidents of bullying, they are behaving responsibly.
(iii) Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus drivers, caretakers, cleaners must be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant investigating teacher.
(iv) Parents 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. All incidents of bullying reported, will be noted, taken seriously and dealt with promptly, appropriately and effectively. If parents have concerns about their child being bullied they should inform the school immediately.
(v) It is very important that all involved (including students and parents) understand the above approach from the outset
(vi) The investigating teacher(s) should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by students, staff or parents.
(vii) All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all students concerned. Students who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way.
(viii) When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the investigating teacher(s) 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.
(ix) If a group is involved, each member should be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, if necessary, all those involved could 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.
(x) Each member of the group should be supported through the possible pressures that they may face from the other members of the group after interview by the teacher.
(xi) Where the investigating teacher(s) has/have determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to him/her how he/she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts should be made to try to get him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.
(xii) It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident(s).
(xiii) In cases where it has been determined by the investigating teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents of the parties involved should be contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken. The school should give parents an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school.
(xiv) It must also be made clear to all involved (each set of students 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.
(xv) 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 student who has been bullied is ready and agreeable
(xvi) An additional follow-up meeting with parents of the students involved may take place after an appropriate time to ensure that the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.
(xvii) The situation will be monitored on an ongoing basis by the Year Head to ensure that those who were involved in bullying behaviour continue to behave appropriately.
(xviii)The Principal/Deputy Principals will be fully briefed on serious incidents of bullying behaviour. Other relevant staff will be alerted to ensure vigilance in terms of ongoing monitoring.
(xix) Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parents must be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures.
(xx) In the event that a parent has exhausted the school's complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parents of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.
(xxi) It is the duty of the school to provide a safe environment for all the children. Should the above interventions fail and the bullying continue, a programme of appropriate sanctions may be implemented by the Principal in consultation with the parents and Board of Management. Sanctions implemented will aim to encourage positive behaviour and support the esteem of the student. In extreme cases of bullying these sanctions may include expulsion or a period of suspension during which there will be ongoing consultation with the parents to decide on appropriate action(s) to be taken in the best interests of the student. Suspension for any period of time will be reported in writing by the Principal to the Chair of the Board of Management.
(xxii) The school reserves the right to apply its anti-bullying policy in respect of bullying behaviour that occurs at a location, activity, function or program that is not school related if in the opinion of the principal and/or the BOM the alleged bullying behaviour has created a hostile environment at school for the victim, has infringed on the rights of the victim at the school and/or has materially or substantially disrupted the education process or the orderly operation of the school.
Bullying by Adults
The Board of Management of St. Finian’s College is committed to promoting positive working relations amongst staff, with parents and with outside visitors. It formally adopts the HSA Dignity in the Workplace Charter, endorsed by ICTU and IBEC and adopted by the JMB and ASTI.
Noting and reporting of bullying behaviour is to be documented using the template for recording bullying behaviour (Appendix 3). All records must be maintained in accordance with relevant data protection legislation. The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour will adhere to the following:
(i) While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the investigating teacher(s), the investigating teacher(s) will use his/her/their 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 investigating teacher(s) that bullying has occurred, the investigating teacher(s) 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 investigating teacher(s) must use the recording template to record the bullying behaviour (Appendix 3).
(iv) Two copies of these recordings will be made. One will be given to the Principal/Deputy Principals and the other will be kept by the relevant Year Head.
7. The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying involves a whole school approach. Given the complexity of bullying behaviour, no one intervention/support programme works in all situations. Therefore various approaches and intervention strategies may be used involving teachers, mentors, year heads, tutors, the school chaplain and the school counsellor. It is also suggested that if necessary parents seek referrals to appropriate outside agencies in order to receive further support for the pupils and their families if needed.
Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils
8. 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
9. 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.
Availability of Policy
10. This policy upon ratification has been supplied to all parents, has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website, is 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 patron if requested.
Review of Policy
11. 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 parents, school personnel, published on the school website, will be readily accessible to parents and pupils on request 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.