Supporting positive relationships - addressing bullying and harassment (draft)

Policy and procedure

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School mission

At Christ Church Grammar School, we seek to live our mission ‘Boys Educated To Know, To Do, To Live With Others and To Be’  (UNESCO 1996).

The quality of the relationships we build between people is central to our purpose. The active support of all members of the School community – students, families and staff – is needed if we are to achieve this aim. We value and take pride in the inclusive ethos in our school and expect relationships to display respect and dignity for others.

Policy

Bullying and harassment are forms of abuse. They will not be tolerated in our school community and will be treated seriously.

Bullying and harassment are not just about the student engaging in the bullying and the person being victimised. These behaviours are part of a wider social context and require policy and procedures that include both preventative measures and effective intervention strategies through education.

The school undertakes to:

  • Provide a supportive and safe environment that encourages positive relationships between students, staff and parents;
  • Provide curriculum material to help students understand and develop positive relationships, resilience and appropriate social skills;
  • Provide opportunities for students to report bullying, and promptly attend to reported incidents; and
  • Support all concerned – those who bully, who are bullied by others, and witnesses – with a view to educate and resolve issues regarding bullying.

The school expects students to:

  • Develop and maintain respectful relationships to promote positive attitudes, behaviours and equality within the School and community;
  • Refuse to be involved in any bullying situation, in person or online;
  • Be aware of their responsibilities as a bystander or a witness to bullying;
  • Take preventative action and report actions of students who engage in bullying; and
  • Support the values of the school by speaking out about incidents of bullying they experience or observe.

The school expects staff to:

  • Promote a safe, positive and caring environment for all, and always model appropriate language and actions for students;
  • Be approachable and respond appropriately to signs of distress or suspected incidents of bullying;
  • Actively circulate around their designated area when on lunch/recess supervision duty, being aware of the nature of student interactions;
  • Encourage students to both speak out about bullying and to take steps to help people who are being bullied;
  • Intervene in situations where bullying is directly observed;
  • Follow the procedures outlined in this policy for all reported incidents of bullying; and
  • Be aware of their own classroom practice (and routines within their co-curricular commitment) with the aim of discouraging activities that enable exclusion or allow a person to become the target of bullying under the guise of a legitimate activity. For example, being aware of how groups are chosen, or how students divide into teams, or whether students save seats for each other in class.

The school expects parents to:

  • Actively promote a positive and caring environment for all, including modelling the desired standards of behaviour at home and when visiting the school;
  • Play a critical role in preventing and responding to bullying, including monitoring and supervising all device use (including mobile phones) at home and communicating with their son to prevent and address cyberbullying;
  • Encourage your son to act against incidences of cyberbullying, and “STOP, BLOCK and TELL”;
  • Discuss issues and strategies with their son to develop relationship skills, resilience and understanding;
  • Communicate with the School any signs of distress in their son;
  • Discuss with their children any incidents of bullying and positive strategies to help them to deal with bullying situations;
  • The School encourages parents to install cyber safety software/parental control software on of all their son’s personal devices, mobile included. We expect parents to continue open discussion and communication with their son and not rely solely on filtering tools; and
  • Understand that the School has limited control over bullying and harassment that occurs outside of school and on their son’s personal device(s) whilst in the care and protection of their parents/guardians.

Definitions

Bullying is the ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons.

Bullying can happen in person or online, directly or indirectly and it can be obviously (overt) or hidden (covert). Online bullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies.

Single incidents and conflicts or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.

Harassment is the behaviour that targets an individual or group due to their identity, race, culture or ethnic origin; religion; physical characteristics; gender; sexual orientation; marital, parenting or economic status; age; ability or disability and that offends, humiliates, intimidates or creates a hostile environment.

Harassment may be an ongoing pattern of behaviour, or it may be a single act. It may be directed randomly or towards the same person/s. It may be intentional or unintentional (i.e. words or actions that offend and distress one person may be genuinely regarded by the person doing them as minor or harmless).

Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person(s) that results in psychological harm, injury or in some cases death. Violence may involve provoked or unprovoked acts and can be a single incident, a random act or can occur over time.

Discrimination occurs when people are treated less favourably than others because of their race, culture, or ethnic origin; religion; physical characteristics; gender; sexual orientation; marital, parenting or economic status; age and/or ability or disability. Discrimination is often ongoing and commonly involves exclusion or rejection.

Bullying can be identified by three main areas and can occur in person and/or online:

  • Verbal bullying may include “put downs” or “pay-outs” (to their faces or behind their backs), spreading rumours, name calling or insulting someone about physical characteristics such as their weight or height, appearance, achievements, and other attributes including race, sexuality (homophobic/biphobic/transphobic slurs), culture or religion.
  • Physical bullying may include any physical act to intentionally hurt or intimidate another person,  which may involve hitting, pushing, punching, kicking, spitting, physically hurting someone under the guise of “horseplay”, and damaging, removing, hiding or interfering with another’s property.
  • Social bullying may include exclusion, sharing information or images that will have a harmful effect on the other person, blackmailing, controlling or dominating someone by withdrawing or threatening to withdraw friendship or pressuring others (duress) to act against their will – such as by handing over money or possessions, flaming, trolling, denigration, online impersonation, outing and trickery, and cyber-stalking.

(The definitions above have been adopted from the Australian Government websites studentwellbeinghub.edu.au and bullyingnoway.gov.au)

What is not bullying?

Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying. However, these conflicts still need to be addressed and resolved.

There are many distressing behaviours that are not examples of bullying even though they may require intervention and management. It is essential that incidents of bullying be clearly differentiated from incidents of mutual conflict or single episode/random aggression as the strategies for effectively responding vary for each situation.  Inappropriate responses may result in matters becoming worse for those involved.

There are three typical negative social situations that are often confused with bullying:

Mutual conflict

In mutual conflict situations there is an initial argument or disagreement between parties at the core of the exchange of negative feelings and behaviours. However, these situations are not characterised by an imbalance of power. Both parties are upset and usually want a resolution to the problem. Mutual conflicts are addressed using mediation procedures.

Social rejection or exclusive friendships

Students often decide not to be friends with someone anymore or they don’t want to play with or associate with that person. Only when social rejection involves deliberate and repeated attempts to cause a specific student distress is it categorised as bullying. Social rejection issues are dealt with through counselling.

Single-episode or random acts of meanness, intimidation or violence

Aggressive behaviours are not categorised as bullying if they occur only once or are random in nature, such as when directed towards several different people without reason, and/or are not repetitive. These issues will be addressed using discipline procedures and counselling where this is needed.

Actions students can take if bullied 

If you have been bullied, in the first instance you may:

Ignore the bullying

Avoid an argument and simply walk away. Just because someone is hassling you, does not mean that you must respond to their negativity. Ignoring works best on the first occasion that bullying occurs.

Talk to the person doing the bullying

With people you know, such as a classmate, talk about the problem in an assertive, but non-hostile manner. Let the person know that you do not like being treated unfairly. Speak in a calm, clear voice and name the behaviour you dislike. For example, “I don’t like you making fun of my name. I want you to stop bullying me.”

Cool the situation down

Sometimes you can make the situation better by asking a question, such as, “Tell me why you are bullying me?” or make a joke that does not insult the other person. These responses are unexpected and students engaging in bullying may back down because they have not received the response they expected.

If the bullying continues (Prep School):

  • Report the bullying to an adult as soon as possible. Tell a teacher that you trust, for example your classroom teacher, classroom teacher, a specialist teacher, a duty teacher, school psychologists, the Chaplain, Deputy Head (Pastoral), Head of Preparatory School, the staff in Health Centre, or your parents. Telling and talking to someone will help you to deal with the bullying. If the bullying is occurring covertly online, it is important to take screen shots/record the behaviour to attempt identify the person responsible.
  • If the bullying is online, remember to STOP, BLOCK and TELL:
    1. Stop the correspondence immediately – take a deep breath and avoid responding;
    2. Block the user from sending additional emails or messages; and
    3. Tell a parent or trusted adult about the situation.
  • When you tell someone about being bullied, you are being both truthful and strong; confiding in someone is not “dobbing”. The School, your family and friends want to support you, and in order to do this they need to know about what is happening to you. The School will work with you to resolve problems and change people’s behaviour so we have a healthy and safe environment. You have the right to feel safe at school. It is important that you disclose who the perpetrator of the bullying is. The School has limited control over bullying and harassment should the School not be able to identify who is involved.
  • Your report of bullying will be listened to and the situation will be investigated. Depending on the situation, the student accused of bullying will be a part of this process and assistance will be provided to this student, so he learns new and better ways of behaving. In some, but not all, cases the student bullying will be punished and warned about re-offending. In some cases, the student bullying will be counselled, and punishment may be avoided in the first instance. You will be contacted in the following weeks and months to make certain the bullying has stopped. If the bullying continues, you should tell your trusted adult immediately.

If the bullying continues (Senior School):

  • Report the bullying to an adult as soon as possible. Tell a teacher that you trust, for example your classroom teacher, your Tutor, your Head of House, school psychologists, the Chaplain, Deputy Principal/Head of Senior School, the Principal, the staff in Health Centre, or your parents. Telling and talking to someone will help you to deal with the bullying. If the bullying is occurring covertly online, it is important to take screen shots/record the behaviour to attempt identify the person responsible.
  • If the bullying is online, remember to STOP, BLOCK and TELL:
    1. Stop the correspondence immediately – take a deep breath and avoid responding;
    2. Block the user from sending additional emails or messages; and
    3. Tell a parent or trusted adult about the situation.
  • When you tell someone about being bullied, you are being both truthful and strong. The School, your family and friends want to support you, and in order to do this they need to know about what is happening to you. The School will work with you to resolve problems and change people’s behaviour so we have a healthy and safe environment. You have the right to feel safe at school. It is important that you disclose who the perpetrator of the bullying is. The School has limited control over bullying and harassment should the School not be able to identify who is involved.
  • Your report of bullying will be listened to and the situation will be investigated. Depending on the situation, the student accused of bullying will be a part of this process and assistance will be provided to this student, so he learns new and better ways of behaving. In some, but not all, cases the student bullying will be punished and warned about re-offending. In some cases, the student bullying will be counselled, and punishment may be avoided in the first instance. You will be contacted in the following weeks and months to make certain the bullying has stopped. If the bullying continues, you should tell your trusted adult immediately.

School procedures and consequences (Prep School)

  • Students, parents, members of staff and members of the community are encouraged to report bullying and/or harassment to school staff. The School has limited control over bullying and harassment that occurs anonymously online and on a non-school device.
  • The staff member who observed the incident or to whom it was reported will interview all students involved in a bullying/harassment incident for the first time. The staff member will discuss the incident with the students involved, focusing on acceptable behaviour, making correct decisions and clarifying the issues for the students so that all know exactly where they stand in the matter. The staff member will report this to the boys’ Classroom Teacher.
  • Further incidents will result in a report being compiled by the relevant classroom teacher, given to the Deputy Head (Pastoral). One of the members of the leadership team will re-interview the students who are identified as being involved, and parents will be informed. Further counselling may be recommended.
  • Students who continue to be involved in on-going bullying will be interviewed, together with their parents, by the Deputy Head (Pastoral) and/or Head of Preparatory School. Appropriate action will be taken, this may include mediation, suspension or exclusion.
  • In the case of students who are involved in a singular incident of a very serious nature, consequences along the lines of those in the paragraph above may be brought immediately into play.

School procedures and consequences (Senior School)

  • Students, parents, members of staff and members of the community are encouraged to report bullying and/or harassment to school staff. The School has limited control over bullying and harassment that occurs anonymously online and on a non-school device.
  • The staff member who observed the incident or to whom it was reported will interview all students involved in a bullying/harassment incident for the first time. The staff member will discuss the incident with the students involved, focusing on acceptable behaviour, making correct decisions and clarifying the issues for the students so that all know exactly where they stand in the matter. The staff member will report this to the boys’ Head of House. The Head of House will report this behaviour to the Head of Senior School.
  • Further incidents will result in a report being compiled by the relevant classroom teacher, Tutor or Head of House, and given to the Head of Senior School, by the Head of House. One of the members of the leadership team will re-interview the students who are identified as being involved, and parents will be informed. Further counselling may be recommended.
  • Students who continue to be involved in on-going bullying will be interviewed, together with their parents, by the Head of Senior School. Appropriate action will be taken, this may include mediation, suspension or exclusion.
  • In the case of students who are involved in a singular incident of a very serious nature, consequences along the lines of those in the paragraph above may be brought immediately into play.

External and Additional Resources

Bullying. No Way!

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/
Website for Australian schools managed by the Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group.

eSafety Commissioner

https://www.esafety.gov.au/
Australian Government agencies supporting online safety and security.

Student Wellbeing Hub

https://studentwellbeinghub.edu.au/

WA Police Form – Cyber Bullying

https://www.police.wa.gov.au/Crime/Technology-crime/Cyber-bullying

Kidshelpline

https://kidshelpline.com.au/

ThinkUKnow

https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/

ThinkUKnow is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Bank, Datacom and Microsoft, and delivered in partnership with all State and Territory police and Neighbourhood Watch Australasia.

ThinkUKnow is a national program delivering online child safety information in schools and organisations to parents, carers, teachers and students from the first year of school to Year 12.

Review and evaluation

Policy and procedures for addressing bullying and harassment will be regularly monitored and evaluated, while ensuring the privacy of individuals is protected.