Statement of Intent
We, the students, parents, staff and friends of St Joseph’s Primary School, are committed to providing a compassionate, receptive and non-threatening atmosphere for each and every one of our pupils to learn and succeed in. We have a “zero-tolerance” policy against bullying, meaning that bullying of any sort is deemed completely unacceptable in our school community. If bullying does occur, students should be assured of the fact that all incidents will be addressed quickly, thoroughly and effectively. We also expect that anyone – whether student, educator, family member or other school party – who witnesses or has other knowledge of an incident of bullying will report the incident to a staff member immediately and with the promise of confidentiality if desired.
Definition of Bullying
At St Joseph’s we define bullying in the following way:
Bullying can be generally defined as the repeated use of aggression, intimidation and/or cruelty with the deliberate intent of hurting another person verbally, physically or emotionally. Bullying carries the ramification of causing pain and stress to the victim. Bullying is never justified and is not excusable as “kids being kids,” “just teasing” or any other rationalization. The victim is never “responsible” for being a target of bullying.
Specific types of bullying may include, but are not limited to:
EMOTIONAL: Being deliberately unkind, shunning, excluding, or tormenting.
Examples: Forcing another student to be “left out” of a game or activity, passing notes making fun of a victim, or making threatening faces or gestures.
PHYSICAL: Pushing, kicking, hitting, tripping, punching or using any other sort of violence against a victim.
Examples: Shoving a victim throwing objects at a victim
RACIST/INTOLERANT: Taunts, slurs and/or physical threats directed around a victim’s race, religion or ethnicity.
Examples: making racial slurs, making unkind remarks about a student’s ethnic background.
SEXUAL: Initiating and/or executing unwanted physical contact, making sexually threatening and/or abusive comments.
Examples: Grabbing a victim’s body, using derogatory labels.
VERBAL: Name-calling, ridiculing, using words to attack, threaten or insult.
Examples: Spreading rumours, making fun of a student’s appearance, mannerisms or intelligence.
Please note that an instance of bullying may fall into more than one “category” listed above.
Why Are Bullying Awareness and Prevention So Important?
Bullying plays a major role in many occurrences of school violence. Students who bully have been proven to have a much greater chance of becoming violent later in life, and some victims of bullying turn to violent outbursts as a “last resort” to escape their torment.
Bullying has also been linked to a large percentage of teen suicides, and can leave victims with emotional and physical scars well into adulthood. Besides that – put simply – bullying hurts, and no one deserves to be bullied. Respect, tolerance and safety are rights we expect and take for granted in our personal lives and workplaces. Schools should be no different.
Students come to school to learn and grow. Bullying seriously damages and can even destroy that process. Adults have a responsibility to ensure that children are protected, and schools have an obligation to respond promptly and thoroughly to issues of bullying.
- The Principals, executives, teaching and non-teaching staff, students and parents should have a full understanding of what bullying is and encompasses;
- All members of the school staff should be thoroughly familiar with the bullying policy, and should follow it accordingly when bullying is reported or observed;
- All students and parents should be thoroughly familiar with the bullying policy, and should know what steps to take when bullying occurs;
- Students and parents should be reassured that the school takes bullying utterly seriously, and will support victims and their families when bullying is reported;
- Bullying will not be excused, permitted or tolerated under any circumstances.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Bullying
Not all victims of bullying reveal that they are suffering at school. Many feel that admitting how bad things have become will increase their torment at the hands of the perpetrators if they risk “dobbing,” are afraid no one will believe or support them or are too embarrassed to admit what is happening. Parents and teachers openly encourage students to report all incidents of bullying that are observed or experienced firsthand.
Even in the event that a student is not forthcoming about being bullied, there may be signs or symptoms that suggest a problem. Parents and teachers should be aware of these symptoms and what they signify, and should investigate immediately.
A child may be a victim of bullying if he or she:
- Is noticeably frightened or evasive when asked “what’s wrong”;
- Suddenly loses appetite;
- Begins bullying or showing unusual aggression with siblings, playmates or other children;
- Comes home unusually hungry (may indicate lunch money or lunch itself has been stolen);
- Repeatedly “loses” lunch, money or possessions;
- Has unexplained cuts, scrapes or bruises;
- Comes home with clothes dirty or torn, or books/other possessions damaged;
- Begins to perform poorly in schoolwork;
- Repeatedly claims to feel ill before going to school;
- Cries him/herself to sleep at night or suffers from chronic nightmares;
- Threatens or actually attempts suicide or other forms of self-harm;
- Attempts to or actually runs away from home;
- Begins stammering, appearing nervous and/or afraid to look people in the eye;
- Seems withdrawn, anxious or suddenly suffering from low self-esteem;
- Begins to skip school or begs to change schools or not to have to go to school;
- Makes significant changes to his/her usual routine;
- Begs to be driven to school so as not to have to walk or take the bus;
- Demonstrates marked fear or unwillingness to go to school or take the bus;
- Gives unlikely/unconvincing excuses for any of the above behaviours.
It should be noted that the above signs may indicate other problems, but bullying should promptly be considered a possibility and looked into.
Proper Bullying Report/Response Procedures
- All bullying incidents will be reported immediately to a staff member.
- Staff member will record all reported bullying incidents on the standard incident report form and share them with the Principal or member of the school executive and the class teacher. The report will be sent to the Principal for filing in the appropriate folder.
- In the case of severe or persistent bullying the parents of both victim and perpetrator will be informed.
- The bullying behaviour or threats will be investigated quickly and fully, with both victim and perpetrator informed that the behaviour will/must stop immediately.
- The bullying perpetrator who continues to exhibit bullying behaviours will meet with a school counsellor, a designated staff member and (if they are willing to cooperate) his/her parents to understand the seriousness of his/her actions (to include placing themselves in the victim’s shoes to appreciate the undesirable effects of the behaviour), and to learn appropriate means of changing behaviour. The method of “restorative justice” will be used to assist the bully to realize the seriousness of his/her actions.
Further Options and Outcomes
- The bully will be asked to genuinely apologize to the victim and/or, if the victim prefers, will sign a letter promising to avoid all future contact with the victim.
- In serious cases, suspension will be considered, with the victim fully informed of all options and actions.
- If feasible and if agreeable to the victim, both victim and bully will meet with a member of the school executive to discuss the problem and brainstorm ideas for reconciliation.
- After the incident has been thoroughly investigated and dealt with, teachers and the counsellor will monitor both students (including regular “check-ins”) to ensure that bullying does not resume or reoccur.
Tools for Prevention and Education
The school will adopt any/all of the following tools to prevent and educate students about bullying:
- Writing, posting/otherwise making a very visible set of descriptive school rules;
- Supplying all students, staff and parents with copies of the bullying policy making the policy available to the school via the website and intranet;
- Engage students in role-playing, creative writing exercises and/or open discussions about bullying;
- Emphasizing the importance of reporting incidents of bullying, both observed and experienced, and including confidentiality as an option in making such reports;
- Distributing current literature about bullying to students, parents and staff;
- Emphasizing repeatedly that bullying will not be tolerated at St Joseph’s Primary School.
Associated Policies and Documents
- St Joseph’s Primary School Student Welfare Policy
- St Joseph’s Primary School Agreed Practice for the Implementation of the Student Welfare Policy
- St Joseph’s Primary School document on Restorative Practices
- Canberra Goulburn CEO Child Protection and related policies
Revised March 2017