What is Bullying?
Bullying is the repeated and systematic harassment and attacks on others.
Perpetrators can be individuals or groups.
Bullying includes many forms, such as
- physical violence and attacks.
- verbal taunts and put-downs.
- threats and intimidation.
- stealing money or possessions.
- exclusions from peer group.
Bullying also includes racial or gender based verbal abuse or put-downs.
Studies show approximately 9% of students in schools are victims and 7% are bullies. More often it is boys that are bullies and the victims are younger children.
Bullying can take place anywhere – school playground or passage ways, in the classroom, on the way to and from home etc.
What research shows about bullies?
It is a myth that bullies are insecure on the inside. Often they have average self-esteem. It seems that bullies usually come from homes where aggression is used to resolve conflict.
What research shows about victims?
Victims are often shy, timid, physically weaker children who tend to lack assertive responses to the bullies. They usually don’t retaliate when bullied, which makes them ‘safe targets’. They often do not have good skills for making friends.
Unfortunately, most children who are bullied either wait a long time or never report these incidences to adults. This can be due to shame, fear of retaliation and a lack of confidence in adult protection.
What causes bullying?
- The modelling of aggression at home, or a lack of attention and warmth.
- The temperament of the bully, along with physical strength and a tendency to be impulsive.
Supervision in general, whether at home or at school, has an impact on the level of bullying, which occurs.
The school social climate needs to reflect warmth and acceptance for all.
For that reason the school discipline/ pastoral care policy and vision statement are linked closely to the Bullying Policy
What are the long-term consequences for bullies, victims and bystanders?
Victims tend to be very unhappy children who suffer from fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. They may try to avoid school and social interaction.
Bullies tend to become aggressive adults and stand a much greater chance than others of obtaining multiple criminal convictions.
All children, including bystanders, are affected negatively by bullying. Fear and anxiety may also be experienced by this third group.
What can you advise parents of ‘victims’ to do?
- Ask the child directly.
- Work with the school on the problem to ensure that monitoring is adequate.
- Arrange for participation in positive social groups, which meet his or her interests in order to build friendships and overcome timidity.
What can you advise parents of aggressive children or ‘bullies’ do?
- Take the problem seriously. Talk to your child, teachers and administrators.
- Make it clear to your child that this kind of behaviour will not betolerated. Discuss negative impact on others.
- Organise an affective, non-violent consequence, such as taking away a privilege.
- Increase your supervision of your child and watch who they associate with.
- Cooperate and communicate with the school in an ongoing manner.
- Praise efforts for non-violent behaviour.
- Avoid violent television shows (even cartoons), video games etc.
- Ensure that your child does not witness violence at home.
- Seek help from school or private psychologists, or community children’s mental health services if necessary.
What Our Lady of Mercy Primary School can do about bullying?
- Continue to develop a safe, supportive school environment and ensure swift intervention with incidence of bullying.
- Continually monitor progress to improve order and discipline as well as positive social interactions.
- Promote awareness and involvement on the par of adults.
- Close supervision during recess, lunchtime, before and after school.
- Consistent and immediate consequences for aggressive behaviour.
- Generous praise for good social, courteous behaviour.
- Class meetings and rules formulated against bullying.
- Serious individual talks with bullies ad victims.
- Serious talks with parents of bullies and victims.
- P&F guest speakers/discussions on the topic of bullying.
- Cooperative learning activities and the teaching of social skills to take place in every classroom.
- Development of a curriculum, which promotes communication, friendship and assertive skills.
- Classes, committee and P&F to view videos and read literature on bullying.
- Avoiding sex role stereotyping. (Eg. males need to be strong and tough).
- Avoid emphasis on competitiveness at school.
- Enlist the help of peers to assist victims.
- Pray for those in need to overcome their fears tell an adult and be assertive.
- Pray for justice, fairness, equality and inclusion as a school community.
Steps to take for intervening in bullying situations:
- Intervene immediately – stop the behaviour as soon as you see it.
- Talk to bully and victim separately.
- Consult with administration team and other teachers.
- Expect bullies to deny or minimize their behaviour.
- Refer to school and class rules. Inform bullies of consequences.
- Reassure victim that all support will be made available.
- Inform parents of bully and victim.
- Involve parents in planning what action is to be taken.
- Speak with child’s teacher to organise peer support and lessons on assertiveness for the victim.
- For the bullies: Specific re-education as to his/her behaviour as well as sanctions such as removal of privileges, detention etc. Re-education should promote social skills, empathy etc to reduce aggressive behaviour.
- Follow up in communicating with all parties involved, including adults.
- The bully and victim should be monitored until the bully’s behaviour has clearly changed and the victim is safe.
Expectations as a result of this policy:
- More incidents to be dealt with and followed up in the playground.
- Class code of contact with specific reference to bullying and exclusion to be developed and maintained.
- Immediate and consistent consequences for all acts of bullying.
- Teaching social skills and revision of cooperative learning techniques to be promoted.
Adapted from: “Bullying: Information for Parents and Teachers”, London family Court Clinic, London, Ontario, Canada.