St. Paul’s Community College is committed to providing a caring, friendly and safe learning environment for all our students, staff, parents and visitors. Bullying behaviour, in any form, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our school community. We promote the motto: “If You See It Then Say It!”
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. Paul’s Community 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 (Circular 045/2013).
This policy comprehends bullying behaviour that is either perpetrated by students or experienced by students in the school. The school reserves the right to apply its bullying policy in respect of bullying behaviour that occurs at a location, activity, function or programme that is not school related if in the opinion of the Principal and/or Board of Management 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. The matter of intra-staff bullying behaviour is addressed in the following ETB policies.
• Bullying Prevention Policy – Compliant Procedure for ETB Staff.
• Harassment/Sexual Harassment prevention policy – complaint procedure for ETB staff.
The Board of Management of St. Paul’s Community College recognises the very serious nature of bullying behaviour 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:
• A positive school culture and climate which-
o is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity;
o encourages students to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour in a non-threatening environment; and
o promotes respectful relationships across the school community;
• Effective leadership;
• A whole school approach;
• A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact;
• Implementation of education and prevention strategies (including awareness raising measures) that-
o build empathy, respect and resilience in students; and
o explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying.
• Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils;
• Supports for staff;
• Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour (including use of established intervention strategies); and
• On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.
Definition of Bullying Behaviour
In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools (DES 2013) bullying behaviour is defined as follows:
The “repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against others “. Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, which should not be condoned, can scarcely be described as bullying. However, when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing it is bullying. Every student has a right to an education free from fear and intimidation. The purpose of this policy is to protect that right for each and every student attending St. Paul’s Community College.
Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying behaviour will be dealt with in accordance with St. Paul’s Community College Code of Behaviour. Additional information on different types of bullying is set out in Appendices 5 and 6.
Those who engage in bullying behaviour in a non-physical way often do not realise that their actions may have serious legal consequences for them. Parents may be advised to report incidents to the Gardaí. The reality is that bullying may constitute a criminal offence.
For example, bullying behaviour may constitute a criminal offence under:
1. Post Office Amendment Act 1951 (Section 13)
2. Criminal Damage Act 1991
3. Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 (Section 10)
Section 10 of this act deals with harassment and provides that a person may be guilty of this crime if s/he:
‘… without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, by any means including by use of the telephone, harasses another by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating with him or her.
‘For the purpose of this section, a person harasses another where-
(a) he or she, by his or her acts intentionally or recklessly, seriously interferes with the other’s peace and privacy or causes alarm, distress or harm to the other, and
(b) his or her acts are such that a reasonable person would realise that the acts would seriously interfere with the other’s peace and privacy or cause alarm, distress or harm to the other’.
Section 10 harassment is an arrestable offence and, if convicted on indictment, carries a jail term not exceeding 7 years. On conviction also, a court may make an order that the guilty party may not, for a specified period, communicate by any means, or come within a specified distance of a person’s home or workplace.
Section 2 of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act (1989) makes it a criminal offence for a person to publish or distribute written material, to use words, behave or display written material … or to distribute, show or play a recording of visual images or sounds, if the written material, words, behaviour, visual images or sounds, as the case may be, are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred.
Those convicted on indictment under this provision may be sentenced to a maximum of two years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £10,000.00.
Even where bullying behaviour does not amount to a criminal offence, the perpetrator may be held liable for damages in civil court proceedings. For example, statements made on social media sites are covered by the provisions of the Defamation Act 2009, which at Section 2 defines a defamatory statement as ‘one which tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society’.
Many, young and not so young, seem to feel that by posting anonymously on social networking sites, they can guarantee that their identity is protected. This, however, is not the case. Indeed, in many cases the content of messages makes it easy to identify the perpetrator. In any case, where the Gardaí have grounds for believing that criminal activity may be occurring, applications can be made to the courts requiring the internet service provider or others in possession of relevant information to divulge a perpetrator’s identity.
Where it is felt that bullying behaviour may amount to a criminal act, St. Paul’s Community College will seek legal advice and the matter will be reported to the Gardaí.
Types of Bullying Behaviour
The following types of bullying behaviour are included in the definition of bullying behaviour. For a more detailed reference to the various types of bullying behaviour and indicators of bullying behaviour please see Appendix 5 and Appendix 6 of this policy.
(a) Student Behaviour:
Your behaviour is considered to be intimidating and/or of a bullying nature when:
- You deliberately exclude or isolate another student by writing insulting remarks about them anywhere on the students personal or school property or any communal student area e.g. toilets, notice boards, etc.
- You say/write unpleasant comments to/about another person, e.g. name calling, being sarcastic, spreading rumours, teasing, making sexually abusive comments,
- You push, hit, kick and/or threaten another student, trip another student, make any physical contact or use any form of violence, severe or in any other way, against another student.
- You take or damage another student’s property, demand or extort another student’s money.
- You use very aggressive body language towards another student. This could take the form of a particular tone of voice or a facial expression which conveys aggression and/or dislike towards another student.
- You use abusive and/or anonymous telephone messages, Internet websites (Cyberbullying), text messages or MMS messages to intimidate another student.
- You use persistent name-calling or you “slag” another student by making very personal remarks about them, which are hurtful, insulting or humiliating. This could be related to another student’s physical appearance, accent, distinctive voice character, academic ability, sexual orientation and/or race.
- You attempt to intimidate or abuse any school personnel.
- You prevent another person from participating fully in any school activity
- deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying behaviour,
- cyber-bullying and
- identity-based bullying behaviour such as homophobic bullying behaviour, racist bullying behaviour, bullying behaviour based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying behaviour of those with disabilities or special educational needs.
This also includes:
(b) Teacher Behaviour:
A teacher may engage in, instigate or unwittingly reinforce bullying behaviour in a number of ways:
1. Using sarcasm or other insulting or demeaning form of language when addressing students; 2. Making negative comments about a student’s appearance or background;
3. Humiliating or intimidating a student directly or indirectly;
4. Using any form of inappropriate physical contact.
Bullying Behaviour – Public Forums
Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behaviour, including a once-off offensive or hurtful text message or other private messaging, do not fall within the definition of bullying and will be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with St. Paul’s Community College Code of Behaviour.
However, in the context of this policy, placing a once-off offensive or hurtful public message, image or statement on a social network site or other public forum where that message, image or statement can be viewed and/or repeated by other people will be regarded as bullying behaviour.
Additional information on different types of bullying can be referenced in Appendix 5 at the end of this policy.
Key Staff Designated to Investigating Bullying Behaviour
The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with initial reports of bullying behaviour is (are) as follows:
Chaplain / Counsellor / Guidance Counsellor
Tutors / Care Team / Student Support
Students, parents, non-teaching staff or members of the wider community should feel welcome to report their concerns to any member of the teaching staff – including the Principal, the Deputy Principal. In this regard, any member of the teaching staff is deemed to be a relevant teacher in the context of Section 6.8.3 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
Education and Prevention Strategies to combat Bullying Behaviour
The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber- bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that are employed in St. Paul’s Community College are as follows:
Induction / Transfer Programmes
Parent Information Meetings
Bullying Awareness Week
Pastoral care Classes
Gardaí – “Connect with Respect” Programme (JLO)
• St. Paul’s Community College makes it clear to all members of the school community that bullying behaviour of any kind is unacceptable, irrespective of whether it is a student a staff member or any other person that is the subject of such behaviour. In this context, all members of the School community have a duty to bring to the attention of the Principal, Deputy Principal, Year Heads, Tutors, Care Team, Chaplain, Guidance Counsellor and/or HSCL any incident of cyberbullying or harassment that they know about or suspect.
• In preventing bullying behaviour students must know how to tell and who to tell. In these regards students could:
o Make a direct approach to a teacher at an appropriate time, for example after class.
o Hand up a note with homework
o Make a phone call to the school or a trusted teacher in the school
o Get a parent/guardian or friend to tell on their behalf.
• While, when investigating and dealing with bullying behaviour the primary focus is on resolving differences and restoring, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved (rather than apportioning blame), St. Paul’s Community College nevertheless reserves the right to take disciplinary action (up to and including suspension and expulsion), where such is warranted, in accordance with the school’s Student Code of Behaviour, against those who bully others.
• The prevention and awareness of bullying behaviour is integral to this policy and students will, through both their curricular and extra-curricular programmes, be provided with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth.
• The focus of St. Paul’s Community College prevention strategy will be to build empathy, respect and resilience in students.
• Students will be provided with opportunities to understand the causes and effects of bullying behaviour, the issue of identity-based bullying and in particular homophobic and trans-phobic bullying. This will include the display of LGBT posters and discussions with parents about statements of welcome and respect for LGBT members of the school community, teaching the Social, Personal, Health Education (SPHE) resource, Growing Up LGBT and participating in LGBT awareness events.
• St. Paul’s Community College recognises that the SPHE curriculum makes specific provision for exploring bullying behaviour as well as the inter-related areas of belonging and integrating, communication, conflict, friendship, personal safety and relationships. Also, that the Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme provides opportunities to explore and discuss areas such as human sexuality and relationships, which has particular relevance to identity-based bullying. St. Paul’s Community College will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the full potential of these programmes to combat bullying behaviour is exploited.
• St. Paul’s Community College is committed to exploring (during 2014) the potential of the Schools for Health in Ireland Framework to assist it in ensuring that the school is inclusive, welcoming of diversity and addresses these issues effectively in the interests of all members of the school community.
• Furthermore, it is recognised that there is potential within the teaching of all subjects and within extracurricular activities to foster an attitude of respect for all: to promote the value of diversity; to address prejudice and stereotyping and to highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.
• Prevention and awareness raising measures will also deal explicitly with cyber- bullying through educating students about appropriate online behaviour, how to stay safe while on-line and also through developing a culture of reporting any concerns about or incidents of bullying behaviour to a member of the teaching staff.
• St. Paul’s Community College will, in all its communications with students and their parents, commencing with the induction of the student into the school, make every effort to highlight the importance of students reporting incidents of or concerns about bullying behaviour to a member of the teaching staff on the clear understanding that these matters are being reported in confidence. This means that a student who draws concerns about bullying behaviour to the attention of a member of staff will not have his/her identity divulged in any way that might result in those against whom allegations are being made identifying the source of the report.
• More than anything else, the combating of bullying behaviour will depend on the extent to which students note and report bullying behaviour. In this context, the well-being of students is very much dependent on the vigilance of their fellow students and their preparedness to report concerns about bullying behaviour to the teaching staff and/or school management. All teaching staff will reinforce this point to students on an ongoing basis.
• St. Paul’s Community College will adopt a school-wide approach (involving management, staff, parents, students and members of the wider community with a connection to the school) to prevent and combat bullying behaviour. In this context, the school is committed to engaging with parents. Firstly, the school will involve them in the development of policies and practices to combat bullying behaviour. Secondly the school will hold annual information evenings for parents to ensure that they understand the way the school deals with bullying behaviour, and to provide them with reliable information on how they may contribute towards combating bullying behaviour. In this regard, it is important that parents realise that anyone can be a bully and anyone can be a target of bullying behaviour. It is not just other people’s sons and daughters that can bully. Here, also, it is important to realise that disagreements between young people are part and parcel of negotiating the road to adulthood and that every youthful disagreement should not be treated as a full-blown bullying episode.
• In accordance with 6.8.9 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools (Circular 045/2013) ‘parents and students are expected 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’.
• St. Paul’s Community College will establish links with school bus drivers and others who come in daily contact with its students in order to enlist them in countering bullying behaviour by reporting it to parents and/or the School/College.
• Where necessary St. Paul’s Community College will seek the assistance of and work with NEPS, the HSE and the Gardaí, as appropriate, to combat bullying behaviour – identify the perpetrators and support the victims.
• In combating bullying behaviour, St. Paul’s Community College will take particular account of the needs of pupils with disabilities or with SEN. This will involve improving inclusion, focusing on developing social skills, paying particular attention to student induction and cultivating a school culture that respects everyone and values helping one another.
• St. Paul’s Community College is devoted on an on-going basis to raising awareness among staff of bullying bahaviour, building an understanding of what bullying behaviour is and providing guidance on how it is best combated – prevented, detected, investigated, documented and resolved. This session will also provide opportunities for exploring the potential that exists within the teaching of all subjects and within extracurricular activities to foster an attitude of respect for all, to promote the value of diversity, to address prejudice and stereotyping, and to highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.
• A clear focus of all staff development around combating bullying behaviour will be the enablement of all staff to implement this policy and the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools consistently and effectively.
• St. Paul’s Community College is committed to providing access to continuous professional development for staff to enable building the capacity of the school to combat bullying behaviour.
• St. Paul’s Community College is committed to surveying the student body regularly (at least once every school year) to identify the extent of bullying behaviour and, in so far as is possible, the students that are affected by it.
• St. Paul’s Community College RSE and SPHE programme will specifically address the issue of bullying behaviour with each year group, each school year.
• St. Paul’s Community College will, each year, link in with the national Safe Internet Awareness Day, Stand Up Against Homophobia Week and Anti-bullying Awareness Week to highlight the whole issue of bullying behaviour and staying safe using modern technology.
• St. Paul’s Community College senior students will have a specific responsibility for recognising bullying behaviour, for bringing concerns about bullying behaviour to the attention of a teacher and for supporting vulnerable students in relation to bullying.
Procedures for Noting and Reporting an incident of Bullying Behaviour
Any pupil or parent/guardian may bring a bullying behaviour incident to the attention of any teacher in the school. All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying behaviour, must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher.
Teaching and non-teaching staff such as secretaries, SNA’s, bus escorts, caretakers, cleaners must report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
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) The formal noting and reporting of an incident of bullying behaviour is seen to be an integral part of our Code of Behaviour in the school. An “Incident Report Form” is freely available to all the school community in the staffroom office.
(ii) All reports of bullying, no matter how trivial, will be noted, investigated and dealt with by our teachers. In that way it is hoped that students will gain confidence in ‘telling’.
(iii) Serious cases of bullying behaviour by students will be referred immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal.
(iv) Parents or guardians of victims and bullies will be informed by the Principal, Deputy Principal or Year Head of incidents when necessary so that they are given the opportunity of discussing the matter.
(v) Parents/guardians may contact the appropriate Year Head, by contacting the school office or HSCL teacher, regarding incidents of bullying behaviour which they might suspect or that have come to their attention through their children, parents, guardians or others.
(vi) It will be made clear to all students that when they report incidents of bullying they are not telling tales but are behaving responsibly.
(vii) Individual teachers in consultation with the appropriate Year Head will record and take appropriate measures regarding reports of bullying behaviour in accordance with the school’s policy and Code of Behaviour.
(viii) Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, caretakers, cleaners will be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to a member of staff. With regard to first year students, the mentors are an invaluable source of information concerning bullying.
(ix) In the case of a complaint by a student regarding a staff member, this should be brought to the attention of the Principal or Deputy Principal by the student, parent or guardian.
(x) Where cases, relating to either a student or a teacher remain unresolved at school level, the matter should be referred to the School’s Board of Management.
(xi) If not solved at Board level the matter may be dealt with by our ETB.
Procedures for Investigating and Dealing with Bullying Behaviour
Incidents of bullying will be investigated outside the classroom situation to avoid the public humiliation of the victim or the student engaged in bullying behaviour.
Summary of procedures to be followed:
1. Where incidents of bullying behaviour occur, students will be warned to stop immediately and made to meet the Chaplain (or in her absence the school Counsellor) and sign the “Student Anti-Bullying Behaviour Contract”.
2. If the bullying behaviour does not cease their parent(s)/guardian will be informed and invited to come to the school. They too will be required to sign the “Student Anti-Bullying Behaviour Contract”.
3. More serious sanctions to be applied in cases where the bullying behaviour does not stop will mean that the Deputy Principal will be informed. Sanctions may include, but not exclusively, exclusion or loss of privilege in taking part in extra-curricular activities, internal or external detention, suspension and ultimately expulsion for extreme cases of bullying behaviour that does not stop.
(i) When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour subject teachers will refer cases to the school Chaplain via the Year Head.
(ii) The Chaplain will meet both parties individually to discuss the matter and to seek possible solutions.
(iii) If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually and then the group will be met together. Each member will be asked for his/her written account of what happened to ensure that everyone is clear about what everyone else has said.
(iv) If it is concluded that a student has been engaged in bullying behaviour an attempt will be made to get him/her to see the situation from the victim’s point of view. He/she will sign a “Student Anti-Bullying Behaviour Contract”. If there is a repeat of the bullying behaviour then the parent(s)/guardian will be notified and asked to sign the “Student Anti-Bullying Behaviour Contract” also. In the event that this measure in unsuccessful in resolving the problem the matter will be referred to the Deputy Principal of St. Paul’s Community College.
(v) In the case where the perpetrators of bullying behaviour are members of a group then each member of the group will be helped to handle the possible pressures that often face them from the other members after they are interviewed.
(vi) Teachers who are investigating cases of bullying behaviour will keep a written record of their discussions with those involved. Those involved will be required to write down their own account of the incident and fill out the “Incident Report Form” freely available to all the school community in the staffroom office.
(vii) In cases where it has been determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents or guardians of the two parties involved may be met as appropriate. In the event of a meeting the actions being taken will be outlined for them with reference to our school policy.
(viii) Follow-up meetings will be arranged with the two parties involved separately with a view to possibly bringing them together at a later date if the victim is ready and agreeable. This can have a therapeutic effect.
(ix) Counselling provision will be made within our school for students who engage in bullying behaviour and their victims. Two sessions of counselling will be mandatory for a student who has engaged in anti-bullying behaviour.
Through such approaches, a network is formed. In certain cases, however, it may be necessary to invite the assistance of other local persons and formal agencies such as NEPS, general medical practitioners, Gardaí, health boards with their social workers and community workers. A positive community attitude and involvement can, therefore, assist considerably in countering bullying behaviour in our school. The continued maintenance of our home/school/community links is important in regard to countering bullying behaviour and is encouraged as a normal part of the our school’s effective operation. It is also important to note that bullying behaviour can be part of a continuum of behaviour rather than a stand-alone issue and in some cases behaviour may escalate beyond that which can be described as bullying to serious physical or sexual assault or harassment.
Sanctions against school bullies
The school must advise parents/guardians of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children in the event that they have exhausted the school’s complaint procedures and are still not satisfied.
The relevant teacher must inform the Principal in writing of all incidents being investigated. All records must be retained by the teacher in the student’s file located in the main school office and stored away safely for six years after the student has left the school.
Students are aware that if they are involved in bullying the following will happen:
1. They will be warned to stop immediately and made to meet the Chaplain/Counsellor and sign the “Student Anti-Bullying Behaviour Contract”.
2. If the bullying behaviour does not cease their parent(s)/guardian will be informed and they too will be required to sign the “Student Anti-Bullying Behaviour Contract”.
3. More serious sanctions where the bullying behaviour does not stop will mean that the Principal/Deputy Principal will be informed. Sanctions may include, but not exclusively, exclusion or loss of privilege in taking part in extra-curricular activities, internal or external detention, suspension and ultimately expulsion for extreme cases of bullying behaviour that does not stop.
Our anti-bullying behaviour policy also embraces those members of the wider school community who come directly in daily contact with our students. They are encouraged to play a positive role in assisting our school to counter bullying behaviour by reporting such behaviour to parents and/or schools as appropriate.
Supervision and Monitoring of Bullying Behaviour in St. Paul’s Community College
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.
At least once in every school term, The Principal will provide a report to the Board of Management setting out the following.
The overall number of bullying cases reported since the previous report to the Board.
confirmation that all cases referred via the recording template have been or are being, dealt with in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy and the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools. The minutes of Board of Management’ meetings will record the Principal’s report but in doing so will not include any identifying details of the students involved.
Prevention of Harassment
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.
Summary of St. Pauls Community College’s Policy on Countering Bullying Behaviour
Our staff members share a collective responsibility, under the direction of the Principal, to act in preventing bullying/aggressive behaviour by any member of the school community.
Adoption of Policy and Availability
This policy was adopted by the Board of Management of St. Paul’s Community College in April 2014
This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Council. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the ETB if requested.
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 school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Council. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the ETB and the Department.
Approved by St. Paul’s Community College Board of Management April 2014. Hard copies of this policy are available from the school office as are all the mentioned appendices.