Coláiste Bhríde endeavours to provide quality education for all students in a caring, disciplined and respectful environment. We aim to prepare students for life and responsible citizenship and to motivate them towards the achievement of their full potential.
Every student has the right to pursue his/her education in a safe and secure environment, free from the fear of being bullied in any form. Students are strongly encouraged to report any incident which makes them feel threatened or unsafe. Proactive approaches will be adopted to ensure a child’s safety at all times. Kildare Wicklow Education Training Board in conjunction with Coláiste Bhríde will apply the school’s Code of Behaviour in respect of bullying that occurs at a location, activity or programme if it is deemed to impinge on the education process or the orderly operation of the school.
Coláiste Bhríde continues to emphasise the importance of a shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact. Effective practice includes prevention and awareness raising measures across all aspects of bullying and involves strategies to engage students in addressing problems when they arise. In particular, such strategies build empathy, respect and resilience in students. As self-esteem is a major factor in determining behaviour, Coláiste Bhríde, through its curricular and extra-curricular programmes, provides students with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth.
This document should be read in conjunction with Coláiste Bhríde’s Code of Behaviour, Information and Communications Technology – Acceptable Usage Policy, IPAD Acceptable Usage Policy and Whole School Student Support Policy.
Bullying is defined as unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person(s) and which is repeated over time. This includes cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying (such as homophobic, transphobic and racist bullying).
Coláiste Bhríde’s policy includes key principles of best practice for both preventing and tackling bullying (See Appendix A).
- A positive school culture and climate
- Effective leadership
- A whole school approach
- A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact
- Implementation of awareness raising and prevention strategies
- Effective supervision and monitoring of students
- Supports for staff
- Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour
- On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the Anti-Bullying policy
Bullying can take many different forms which include:
- Physical aggression – pushing, hitting etc.
- Damage to property – stealing pens, pencils etc., breaking rulers and tearing books
- Extortion – demands for money, food, sweets etc.
- Intimidation – verbal threats etc.
- Ridiculing a person’s work or ideas
- Horseplay, offensive gestures and unwanted physical contact.
- Name calling: hurtful or humiliating names
- Personal remarks about a person’s clothing, hygiene, family
- Sexual/homophobic comments about another person
- Isolation of a student and encouraging others to do likewise
- Threats to deal with ‘squealers’
- Making school life difficult and preventing student(s) from playing a full part in the life of the school
- Use of technological devices and social media sites to intimidate or isolate a student.
It is also possible for adults to exhibit bullying behaviour:
- All school personnel are asked to monitor their own behaviour on a regular basis
- Unfairness in dealing with students will not be accepted or supported by school management.
- Derogatory comments made to any student will not be accepted or supported by school management.
- Consistency in fair treatment, positive reinforcement and empowering students to be responsible citizens is expected from staff members at all times.
Effects of bullying:
Bullying can have an adverse effect on a young person and can cause him/her to feel frightened, unhappy, suffer from anxiety and mood swings. The victim’s self-esteem and self-confidence can be lowered. In extreme cases a critical incident may result.
Students may be vulnerable to bullying if they:
- are different in any way
- are insecure or timid
- are clumsy or awkward
- have poor personal hygiene
- are motivated individuals who work hard at school
- are students who may or are perceived to have learning difficulties
- are individuals who have few friends
- are over-protected at home
- have different racial, sexual orientation or religious backgrounds
Students who present with bullying behaviour may:
- like the feeling of power
- feel insecure or inadequate
- have been bullied themselves
- see bullying in their own home
- are spoilt and always expect to get their own way
- feel angry and frustrated at some aspect of their own lives
Procedures for Parents
Possible signs of bullying:
If you are concerned or become aware of any of the following you may have reason to suspect that your child is being bullied.
- Demonstrate anxiety about travelling to/from school, request parents to change their route to school, time of travelling
- Be unwilling to go to school, refuse to attend, play truant
- Have unexplained changes of mood – especially on Sunday night or Monday morning or after holiday time
- Experience re-occurrence of pre-existing medical conditions
- Come home regularly with clothes or books destroyed; possessions missing.
- Seek to phone home on a regular basis and/or ask to be collected from school during the day
- Come home hungry – lunch money or food has been taken
- Become withdrawn or distressed or stop eating, or start stammering
- Cry themselves to sleep or have nightmares, make spontaneous out of character comments
- Ask for money or begin stealing (to pay the person engaging in the bullying behaviour)
- Have unexplained cuts or bruises
- Have frequent minor illnesses on school mornings – headaches, stomach upsets etc.
- Lose interest in personal technological devices that connect to the internet, but not limited to Xbox, Play Station, Wii, etc.
- Switch between web pages, passwords and show signs of secrecy
- Be reluctant and /or refuse to say what is troubling him/her
If your child is being bullied:
The most important thing to do is to make sure that the bullying is stopped. YOU MUST SPEAK OUT. SILENCE NURTURES THE POWER OF THE PERSON ENGAGING IN THE BULLYING BEHAVIOUR…
- Get full details of what is happening from your child
- Keep written records – day, date, details etc. of incidents and witnesses
- Approach the child’s class teacher, year head, and deputy principal or principal. DO NOT approach the person engaging in the bullying behaviour or his/her family
- Ensure that the child gets ongoing support at home. The school counsellor or relevant personnel is available to help both the person engaging in the bullying behaviour and the victim.
Please note that all information given to the school is treated in a confidential and sensitive manner which does not further endanger the victim.
REMEMBER: If we don’t know it is happening we can do nothing about it.
If you discover your child is engaging in bullying behaviour:
- Remain calm – don’t bully or hit the child
- Take time to talk with your child
- Try to find out why your child is bullying
- Make it clear that the behaviour must stop and apologise to the victim
- Seek professional help if necessary
- Ask your child to put himself/herself in the victim’s place
- Provide relevant literature for your child on bullying, its effects and other important information on bullying
Procedures for Staff
All members of staff should be vigilant with regard to bullying. Many of the signs parents have to watch out for at home can also manifest themselves in school. Coláiste Bhríde will endeavour annually to raise the awareness of bullying among staff, build an understanding on what bullying is and provide guidance on how it can be best combated –prevention, detection, investigation, documentation and resolution.
Possible signs of bullying:
- Increased instances of absenteeism
- Unexplained changes in mood, behaviour or attitude
- Disimprovement in class work, homework and /or class participation
- Possessions going missing
- Unexplained cuts and bruises
- Comments from other students
- Hesitant to do use technological devices or to research school related work on the internet, either in school or at home
Staff should record incidents of bullying and report them accordingly to the class teacher, year head, deputy principal or principal.
Staff should take the following into consideration:
- Coláiste Bhríde’s Code of Behaviour will be discussed at the beginning of each academic year. The Code of Behaviour underlines the school’s aim of promoting the development of the school community and highlights the need for individuals to treat others with respect.
- Staff should adopt a calm, unemotional problem-solving, confidential approach when dealing with incidences of alleged bullying behaviour reported by students, staff or parents.
- Staff should take opportunities to emphasise to the students our collective responsibility for ensuring that no student or group of students is bullied.
- Action should be designed to ensure that the behaviour which led to the incident ends as soon as possible and that the ‘victim’ no longer feels insecure. It should be noted that in many instances the behaviour which is causing the difficulty is not intended to offend/hurt to the extent that it does.
- Senior students, especially the Meitheal Leaders, senior prefects and mentors should be asked to be alert for instances of bullying. Students are often better placed than staff to identify bullying.
- All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all students concerned.
- Follow-up meeting 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.
On receipt of a report of bullying the following steps should be taken:
- The incident should be reported to the class tutor or year head.
- A decision is taken initially about the level of seriousness of the incident.
- Both the student engaging in the bullying behaviour and the victim will be addressed by the class tutor/year head/relevant personnel.
- When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the class tutor/year head/relevant personnel should seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why.
- It may be appropriate to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident(s).
- The relevant member of staff must keep appropriate written records which will assist his/her efforts to resolve the issue.
- All reports of bullying received by a member of staff should be treated seriously and confidentially. The class tutor and /or year head should always be informed without delay.
- A Bullying Incident Report Form (See Appendix B, page 11) is to be completed, by the year head. This is to be forwarded to the principal/deputy principal. A copy of the bullying incident will be filed (depending on the sensitivity of the incident) in students personal files. A written record of all reports must be kept.
- If deemed necessary, parents/relevant staff members will be informed.
- In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the relevant teacher will, as part of his/her professional judgement, take the following into account:- Whether the bullying behaviour has ceased
– Whether the 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
- In cases where a resolution to the bullying behaviour has not been found within 20 days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour occurred; an additional Report Form (Appendix C, page 13) will be completed.
- Where a parent is dissatisfied with how the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parents will be informed of the schools complaints procedures.
- In the event that a parent has exhausted the schools 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.
Procedures for Students
If you are being bullied or suspect another student is being bullied report the incident immediately to somebody you trust e.g. Meitheal Leader, senior prefect, teacher, class teacher, year head, guidance counsellor, deputy principal, principal, relevant personnel, parent etc.
Resolution of bullying incidents
It is the policy of Coláiste Bhríde to rehabilitate the persons engaging in the bullying behaviour. A restorative “no blame” approach will be prioritised in order to resolve any issues and restore as far as is practicable the relationships in the parties involved.
- A simple warning may be sufficient to deal with minor incidents.
- If the matter is more serious parents will be informed or asked to come to the school.
- Sometimes parents may be advised to seek counselling for the person engaged in the bullying behaviour.
- When all other strategies have failed the person engaging in the bullying behaviour may be suspended.
- If serious/persistent incidents of bullying continue, the school may have to resort to the Board of Management to consider indefinite suspension or expulsion of the person engaging in the bullying behaviour.
Support and Prevention Strategies:
Coláiste Bhríde will put in place a programme of support for students who have been involved in a bullying incident. This programme will involve the following elements:
- Students who have been bullied will be:
- Offered appropriate counselling
- Provided with opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop their social skills and to build their resilience
- Students who have engaged in bullying behaviour will be:
- Provided with support to help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others
- Provided with opportunities to build their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth
- Students who observe incidents of bullying behaviour will be encouraged to discuss them with their teachers and parents and to avail of counselling where they feel it may assist them to cope effectively with what they have experienced.
- Where necessary Coláiste Bhríde will seek the assistance of and work with NEPS (National Educational Psychological Service), the HSE (Health Service Executive) and/ or the Gardaí, to combat bullying, identify the perpetrators and support the victims.
Education Programmes to combat bullying behaviour:
Coláiste Bhríde will endeavour at all times to ensure the safety of students in their care. Nevertheless, Coláiste Bhríde is conscious of parental responsibility. As a whole school, cross curricular initiative, all students in Coláiste Bhríde will engage in an awareness of the effects of bullying through the following programmes:
- SPHE – Social, Personal and Health Education
- RSE – Relationships and Sexuality Education
- Anti-bullying workshops (including Safety Internet Day)
- Guest speakers for parents and students
- Participate in Anti-bullying week
- ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)– Blue Shield
*This list is not exhaustive