ST MOCHTA’S NATIONAL SCHOOL
BULLYING –GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS
It is important to keep a sense of balance in any discussion of bullying behaviour. There will always be name calling, slagging and teasing. However, when a line is crossed it can be devastating for the person affected by it. The age-old excuse “we were only messing” will be constantly challenged this school at all times during the school year. The behaviour becomes bullying when the same person(s) is repeatedly on the receiving end of negative attention against their wishes and is unable to prevent it. It is also important to emphasise that the vast majority of young people at school are not bully others.
2. What is bullying?
Bullying is “repeated aggression, verbal psychological or physical conducted by an individual or a group against others”. (Department of Education and Science Guidelines 1993).
3. What makes a person a victim of bullying?
Anyone can become the focus of bullying. It depends on their level of vulnerability in a situation and their reaction to it. Some risk factors include:
(a) Physical characteristics- A child’s physical characteristics may attract attention – anything from hair colour to size. One way to counter this is to give them plenty of positive messages about appearance. Help them to understand that the reason why they are being treated like this way be jealousy or insecurity on the part of the bully.
(b) Personality traits – there is no doubt that shy, sensitive child is the one most at risk. While sensitivity is an asset in many situations, in this context it can make a person more vulnerable to negative treatment.
(c) Changes in family circumstances – This is not a criticism of parents because it is through our children that we are most vulnerable. However, if a parent is over protective, this may pass on a certain level of anxiety to the child. The ideal is to find the balance so that your child will speak openly to you if they are under pressure and yet know that they will not have to face a detailed interrogation every day after school. Illness, bereavement, separation and loss of employment can alter family circumstances in a dramatic way and may lead to increased vulnerability.
(d) Atmosphere in the school – Atmosphere in the school – In St Mochta’s we will at all times strive to create an atmosphere where it will be acceptable to talk and tell someone if you are being bullied or if you know that someone else is.
4. St. Mochta’s Anti – Bullying Code
In our school everybody is valued. Difference of any type – race, religion, appearance, personality, background or interest, does not make it acceptable to bully a person. We are all different – that is what makes us special. The people in our school community have the right to be themselves and have the responsibility to treat others as they would like to be treated. Silence allows people to suffer. We are a telling school. We sprak out when we know we should.
5. The Warning Signs – what parents should look out for:
As stated, the vast majority of students at school are unaffected by bullying behaviour. There is no need for parents/guardians to worry unduly. However, the following sign/symptoms may suggest that a student is being bullied
- A student who has been happy at school suddenly losing interest and enthusiasm for school – this may be reflected in deterioration in school performance.
- Anxiety about travelling to and from school – requesting parents to drive or collect them.
- Unwillingness to attend school – worrying about the route to school.
- Damage to bicycles or personal property, for example clothes, books or loss of same.
- A student returning from school in a bad humour but reluctant say why.
- Unexplained changes of mood, which often occur before the restart of school – for example at the end of the weekend or the end of holidays.
- Frequent minor illnesses – especially headaches and stomach aches, difficulty in sleeping, not eating – these often accompany the mood changes mentioned above.
- An increase in requests for money.
- Unexplained cuts and bruises.
- Recurrent nightmares.
- Bed – wetting (in the case of younger children)
These sign do not necessarily mean that a pupil is being bullied. However, if repeated or occurring in combination, these sign do need investigation.
6. Supporting a child being bullied.
It is not possible to provide total protection from bullying but you can support your child and equip them with some simple coping strategies.
- Listen in a supportive way.
- Gently establish that this is a problem bullying case and not a once-off, everyday schoolyard run-in.
- Reassure your child that the problem lies with the bully and not with them. Your child has no reason to feel foolish or guilty.
- Build up your child’s self-esteem by providing plenty of positive feedback about their appearance, personality and ability.
- Try to find a rewarding outlet for their abilities through extra-curricular activities.
- Role-play the bullying situation with your child and see how they respond.
- When your child is bullied in school, tell them to protest loudly. “Get way and leave me alone!” This attracts the attention of those in authority.
- Advise the child to imagine a wall around them-the bully’s taunt are like arrows that fall to the ground. If they can learn to keep out the negativity, they will not be so weakened by the attacks.
Never advise retaliation, especially physical. It gives the bully an excuse to continue their behaviour and describe it as self-defence.
7. Making contact with the school.
The best way to make contact with the school about bullying is by telephone or letter. With the exception of very young children, going in person can put pressure on a pupil, they may be afraid of being called a “rat” or of what their classmates might think. On the phone or by letter, an appointment can be made to speak to the class teacher and/or Principal. Parents should also remember that advising children to retaliate physically usually only makes the situation worse. Our school does take the issue of bullying behaviour seriously. Parents equally have a responsibility to ensure that their child does not engage in this behaviour. We will put in place a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and for those involved as perpetrators of bullying behaviour. Sanctions will be imposed in the event of serious bullying. We hope that everybody will have confidence in and support for the procedures operated by the school.
EARLY CONTACT WITH THE SCHOOL IS THE BEST APPROACH
ALL CHILDREN MUST REMEMBER
IT’S NOT COOL TO BE A BULLY!
- Never do or say anything to deliberately hurt another person.
- Keep unhelpful hand, feet, looks and comments to yourself.
- Do not play jokes or tricks which might upset another person.
- Fry to imagine how the other person feels.
- Show respect and care for each other.
- Make sure that everyone in your class is included and feels welcome.
- Remember the school Anti-Bullying Code and Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.
8. What to do if you are being bullied or if you know of someone being bullied.
- Tell a Friend.
- Tell your Teacher.
- Tell your Parents.
- Tell your Principal.
- Do not be a Spectator or a supporter of bullying.
OUR PROCEDURES FOR INVESTGATING AND DEALING
WITH BULLYING IN ST. MOCHTA’S NATIONAL SCHOOL
1. Calm, unemotional problem solving approach.
2. Class Teacher will speak initially to children involved.
3. Members of a gang will be met separately and as a group.
4. Parents of all sides will be informed where it has been determined that bullying has occurred.
5. An appointment will be made for parents concerned to meet with teacher and/or Deputy Principal and/or Principal.
6. A problem solving approach will be used at this meeting with a view to resolving the issue to the satisfaction of all concerned.
7. Sanctions where and if appropriate will be deployed in line with the Schools Code of Behaviour.
8. Further help and support may be sought for both victim and bully.
9. The incident will be recorded and may be kept on pupils file.
10. A review meeting with all side will place again within six weeks of the incident first being reported.
11. The situation will be monitored on an on-going bases.