We recognise the devastating effects and long-term damage that bullying can have on children and we strive to create safe ‘bullying-free’ environments for children.
Our Duty to Care suggests the following definition of bullying:
“Bullying can be defined as repeated aggression, be it verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against others…. It includes behaviours such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting and extortion.”
- Bullying is intentional, repeated and aggressive physical, verbal or psychological behaviour directed by an individual or group against others;
- Bullying can occur at any age, in any environment, and can be long or short term;
- Any child can be a victim of bullying;
- Bullying can be perpetrated by adults towards children, as well as children towards their peer group;
- Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, which should not be condoned, cannot be described as bullying. However, when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing it is bullying;
- Bullying results in pain and distress to the victim.
Bullying can be:
- Emotional/psychological: tormenting, excluding, extorting, intimidating, etc.
- Physical: pushing, kicking, hitting, punching, intimidating, damaging/stealing property, or any use of violence, etc.;
- Racist: racial taunts, i.e. insults about colour, nationality, social class, religious beliefs, ethnic or Traveller background, or use of graffiti or gestures;
- Sexual: unwanted physical harassment or contact, or sexually abusive comments. This may constitute actual sexual abuse, which should be reported;
- Homophobic: taunting a person of a different sexual orientation;
- Verbal: name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, teasing, etc.;
- Cyber: misuse/abuse of email, mobile phones, internet chat rooms, social media, text messaging, or camera and video facilities;
- Subtle: such as an unwelcome expression or gesture that is repeated and focused on an individual;
- Perpetrated by adults: this can include adults who are not related to the child. When perpetrated by adults, rather than children, bullying behaviour could be regarded as physical or emotional abuse. However, other major forms of child abuse – such as neglect and sexual abuse – are not normally comprehended by the term ‘bullying’.
In developing an anti-bullying policy:
- Gain agreement that it is unacceptable behaviour and commitment from the children that they will not tolerate it in their group.
- Develop clear guidelines on individual responsibility – the victim, the bully and the onlooker can all play their part in putting a stop to bullying. In particular, explore ways of making it easier for children to tell someone if they are being bullied.
- Ensure that consistent responses are made to all incidents of bullying.
- Identify and monitor times children identify as being unsafe, where possible.
- Support victims of bullying and those who bully – in particular assist the bullies to develop appropriate behaviours.
- Once in place, ensure that your anti bullying policy is displayed prominently and is reviewed regularly.
- Ensure it is circulated to all parents, staff, volunteers and children.
To help prevent bullying, the following strategies are suggested:
- Engage children in discussions about what bullying is and why it cannot be tolerated;
- Encourage children to take responsibility and report any incidents of bullying to their leader/person in charge;
- Review this bullying guidance with children and parents involved in parish/ agency activities;
- Seek to promote positive attitudes of social responsibility, tolerance and understanding among all personnel.
Example of Personal Safety Statement which can be personalised and adapted to suit the group:
We provide a place where:
- everyone can feel safe
- bullying is not acceptable behaviour
- name calling is not tolerated
- no one suffers abuse of any nature
- no one is victimised
- each person is supported and listened to
- it is each person`s responsibility to ensure that everyone is treated equally
- solutions to problems are the concern of all
(Adapted from Keeping Safe and Our Duty to Care)
Sample Statement of Intent
We are committed to providing a caring, friendly and safe environment for children. Bullying of any kind is unacceptable in our group. If bullying does occur, all children should be able to tell and know that incidents will be dealt with promptly and effectively. This means that anyone who knows that bullying is happening is expected to tell the leader.
Procedures to deal with bullying
More extreme forms of bullying or peer abuse would be regarded as physical, emotional or sexual abuse and should be reported to Tusla or An Garda Síochána.
- All incidents of bullying should be brought to the attention of the leader/person in charge;
- All incidents will be recorded on incident report forms and kept on file;
- Leaders should report to and seek guidance/support from the parish priest/priest in charge;
- Parents should be informed of any incidents of bullying, and should meet with the leader/ person in charge to discuss the problem. A record should also be kept;
- The bullying behaviour or threats of bullying must be investigated and the bullying quickly stopped;
- Both the victim and bully should be supported and helped throughout the process;
- If necessary and appropriate, the Gardaí should be consulted.