Anti-BullyingAt Milngavie Primary School we have a very positive approach to anti-bullying. We are a ‘telling’ school and any allegation of bullying is treated most seriously and fully investigated.
Over the years bullying has been a relatively common occurrence in schools. Nevertheless, it is seen as the duty of all staff to reduce and possibly eliminate the practice. Unfortunately, in the public domain bullying has had a great deal of exposure in the press. Thus it has become an issue about which many parents are rightly or wrongly concerned. It is important therefore, that we in Milngavie Primary are quite clear what is meant by bullying in order that we can adopt a whole school approach to dealing with its consequences.
Bullying can take many forms and can exist in a wide range of degrees. In practice the principal forms which are likely to occur in the school situation are:-
· Verbal – name calling, personal comments, accusations etc.
· Physical – kicking, pushing, striking, spitting, or assault etc.
· Social – excluding from play, ignoring etc.
· Material – taking belongings, forcing handing over of money etc.
· Mental – threatening, pressurising, making false statements etc.
· Written – writing offensive things about someone – graffiti, notes, letters, text messages, e-mail etc.
· Combined – a mix of any one or more of the above.
In defining and dealing with bullying the over-riding purpose is that of the safety of all pupils and of utilising a system for supporting both the victim and the bully.
The Bully
In order to cope with aspects of bullying teachers should try to understand the reasons why it happens. Often it is caused when some children feel the following needs:-
· to demonstrate their power over others
· to attract attention
· to provide outlets for anger or frustration
· to compensate for their own lack of success
It should also be remembered that bullies themselves are often the victims of bullying in other circumstances or situations.
The Victim
Since, as indicated above, many primary pupils are the victims of bullying at some point in their school life, it is difficult to provide an accurate description of those who are likely to be subjected to this kind of abuse.
Nevertheless, some children are more vulnerable than others. Some characteristics which might lead to a child being bullied are:-
· being different for a variety of reasons
· lacking confidence
· inclined to prefer his/her own company
· over-protected
However, it should be realised that since the potential for bullying exists for and by any pupil, teachers should always be on the look out for incidents.
It is clear that bullying is not purely an in-school phenomenon but exists for all ages in a wide range of circumstances. In school some more subtle aspects may appear in the classroom but the most likely place is the playground. While an adequate amount of playground supervision exists in Milngavie Primary, amid the hustle and bustle of the playground there is still scope for bullying to take place. Thus in dealing with instances, it will normally be necessary to investigate carefully what is said to have happened soon after the event. In addition it must be remembered that much bullying can take place outside of the school environment and is often brought into school as a consequence. If however there are signs of it happening in school time then appropriate strategies have to be put in place as described below.
Dealing with Bullying
As a first approach to dealing with bullying it is important to adopt a positive stance and thus the following tactics are recommended as general preventative approach:
· A positive whole school ethos
· encouraging self esteem
· treating all children equally
· bullying is debated and anti-bullying tactics are acknowledged in programmes of study when no actual incident is an issue such as during ‘circle time’.
While the above would be seen as normal elements of the Primary School atmosphere, teachers are reminded that they should also form the basis for a strategy for coping with aspects of bullying.
It is likely, however, that even with these positive approaches some bullying incidents may take place. As a first step teachers should remember the following:
· early awareness
· encouraging reporting of incidents both by victims and other observers
· ensuring that pupils are aware that someone will listen to these reports
· providing clear information to pupils at both classes and school level that action will be taken to deal with bullying
· encourage all pupils to be supportive to others so that bullying does not take place i.e. peer pressure harnessed to work on a positive front.
· role play, discussions, circle time as means of identifying the problem and the difficulties it causes for individual
Taking Action
Following incidents or allegations of bullying, and once teachers are sure of the circumstances, the undernoted steps should be carried out.
The incident or allegation should be reported to the H.T. or D.H.T. who will implement East Dunbartonshire Policy Procedures on anti-bullying. (Please refer to flow chart on page 15 of attached Policy document)
The sanctions which will follow from promoted staff will be in line with the school’s
‘ABC, Promoting Positive Behaviour’ policy.
· the pupil will be confronted with the consequences and seriousness of the action
· he/she will be closely monitored with regard to behaviour in general and relationships with other pupils over an agreed period
· loss of privileges e.g. Golden Time, extra curricular activities, playtimes etc.
· the possibility of arranging for the bully to be separated from likely victims
· for certain types of offence exclusion will be enforced
Involvement of Parents
At significant points in the above procedures it will be essential to inform and involve parents of both the bully and the victim. In the first instance this will be to make them aware of the harmful nature of what their child has done and to ensure their co-operation in prevention of further incidents. The strategies of discussion, role play etc. described above will be recommended to parents so that they can carry out similar activities in the home. The overall strategy in involving parents is that a joint approach with both school and parent contributing is more likely to bring about lasting success. In so doing the needs of the school in treating all children equally and with respect will be highlighted. At the same time in certain circumstances the school reserves the right to take whatever further action the promoted staff, in accordance with this policy, deems necessary.
To view the East Dunbartonshire Anti Bullying Policy please click here.