Bullying Prevention Policy Policy 2022

Purpose              

Moolap Primary School is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment where bullying will not be tolerated.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • explain the definition of bullying so that there is shared understanding amongst all members of the Moolap Primary School community
  • make clear that no form of bullying at Moolap Primary School will be tolerated
  • outline the strategies and programs in place at Moolap Primary School to build a positive school culture and prevent bullying behaviour
  • ask that everyone in our school community be alert to signs and evidence of bullying behaviour, and accept responsibility to report bullying behaviour to school staff
  • ensure that all reported incidents of bullying are appropriately investigated and addressed
  • ensure that support is provided to students who may be affected by bullying behaviour (including targets, bystanders and students engaging in bullying behaviour)
  • seek parental and peer group support in addressing and preventing bullying behaviour at Moolap Primary School

When responding to bullying behaviour, Moolap Primary School aims to:

  • be proportionate, consistent and responsive
  • find a constructive solution for everyone
  • stop the bullying from happening again
  • restore the relationships between the students involved.

Moolap Primary School acknowledges that school staff owe a duty of care to students to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of reasonably foreseeable harm, which can include harm that may be caused by bullying behaviour.

Scope

This policy addresses how Moolap Primary School aims to prevent, address and respond to student bullying behaviour. Moolap Primary School recognises that there are many other types of inappropriate student behaviours that do not meet the definition of bullying which are also unacceptable at our school. These other inappropriate behaviours will be managed in accordance with our Student Code of Conduct and Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy and Inclusion and Diversity policy.

This policy applies to all school activities, including camps and excursions. It also applies to bullying behaviour between students that occurs outside of school hours, where the behaviour impacts on student wellbeing and safety at school.  

Policy
Definitions

Bullying

In 2018 the Education Council of the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the following definition of bullying for use by all Australian schools:

Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.

Bullying can happen in person or online, via various digital platforms and devices and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Bullying behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time (for example, through sharing of digital records)

Bullying of any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.

Bullying has three main features:

  • It involves a misuse of power in a relationship
  • It is ongoing and repeated, and
  • It involves behaviours that can cause harm.

There are four main types of bullying behaviour:

  • Physical – examples include hitting, pushing, shoving or intimidating or otherwise physically hurting another person, damaging or stealing their belongings. It includes threats of violence.
  • Verbal/written – examples include name-calling or insulting someone about an attribute, quality or personal characteristic.
  • Social (sometimes called relational or emotional bullying) – examples include deliberately excluding someone, spreading rumours, sharing information that will have a harmful effect on the other person and/or damaging a person’s social reputation or social acceptance.
  • Cyberbullying – any form of bullying behaviour that occurs online or via a mobile device. It can be verbal or written, and can include threats of violence as well as images, videos and/or audio.

Bullying can be a form of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia or other type of social prejudice when the behaviour is targeted at an individual or group because of a personal characteristic, such as race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

For further information about bullying, refer to: Bully Stoppers (education.vic.gov.au) and the Department’s Bullying Prevention and Response policy on the Policy and Advisory Library.

Other distressing and inappropriate behaviours

Many distressing and inappropriate behaviours may not constitute bullying even though they are unpleasant. Students who are involved in or who witness any distressing and inappropriate behaviours should report their concerns to school staff and our school will follow the Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy/Student Engagement Policy/Code of Conduct.

Mutual conflict involves an argument or disagreement between people with no imbalance of power. In incidents of mutual conflict, generally, both parties are upset and usually both want a resolution to the issue. Unresolved mutual conflict can develop into bullying if one of the parties targets the other repeatedly in retaliation.

Social rejection or dislike is not bullying unless it involves deliberate and repeated attempts to cause distress, exclude or create dislike by others.

Single episode acts of nastiness or physical aggression are not the same as bullying. However, single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression are not acceptable behaviours at our school and may have serious consequences for students engaging in this behaviour. Moolap Primary School will use its Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy to guide a response to single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression.

Harassment is language or actions that are demeaning, offensive or intimidating to a person. It can take many forms, including sexual harassment and disability harassment.

Discrimination is behaviour that treats someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic (for example, race, religious belief or activity, disability, sex or intersex status, gender identity or sexual orientation).

Discrimination, harassment, and any other inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated at our school and there may be serious consequences for students engaging in this behaviour. This includes any form of racism, religious or disability discrimination, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any other behaviour that targets an individual or group. Further information about discrimination and harassment, including definitions, is set out in our Inclusion and Diversity Policy. 
Bullying Prevention

Moolap Primary School has a number of programs and strategies in place to build a positive and inclusive school culture and relationships to promote wellbeing. We strive to foster a school culture that prevents bullying behaviour by modelling and encouraging behaviour that demonstrates acceptance, kindness and respect.

Bullying prevention at Moolap Primary School is proactive and is supported by research that indicates that a whole school, multifaceted approach is the most effect way to prevent and address bullying. At our school:

  • We identify and implement evidence-based programs and initiatives from the Schools Mental Health Menu that are relevant to preventing and addressing bullying and help us to build a positive and inclusive school climate.
  • We strive to build strong partnerships between the school, families and the broader community that means all members work together to ensure the safety of students.
  • We participate in the Respectful Relationships initiative, which aims to embed a culture of respect and equality across our school.
  • We celebrate the diverse backgrounds of members of our school community and teach multicultural education, including Aboriginal History, to promote mutual respect and social cohesion.
  • We participate in the Safe Schools program to help us foster a safe environment that is supportive and inclusive of LGBTIQ+ students.
  • Teachers are encouraged to incorporate classroom management strategies that discourage bullying and promote positive behaviour.
  • A range of year level incursions and programs are planned for each year to raise awareness about bullying and its impacts.
  • In the classroom, our social and emotional learning curriculum teaches students what constitutes bullying and how to respond to bullying behaviour assertively. This promotes resilience, assertiveness, conflict resolution and problem solving.
  • We promote upstander behaviour as a way of empowering our students to positively and safely take appropriate action when they see or hear of a peer being bullied.
  • The Peer Support Program and the Peer Mediation program encourage positive relationships between students in different year levels.  We seek to empower students to be confident communicators and to resolve conflict in a non-aggressive and constructive way.
  • Students are encouraged to look out for each other and to talk to teachers and older peers about any bullying they have experienced or witnessed.
  • We participate in the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.

For further information about our engagement and wellbeing initiatives, please see our Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy/Student Engagement Policy. 

Incident Response

Reporting concerns to Moolap Primary School

Bullying is not tolerated at our school. We ensure bullying behaviour is identified and addressed with appropriate and proportionate consequences. All bullying complaints will be taken seriously and responded to sensitively.

Students who may be experiencing bullying behaviour, or students who have witnessed bullying behaviour, are encouraged to report their concerns to school staff or another trusted adult as soon as possible.

Our ability to effectively reduce and eliminate bullying behaviour is greatly affected by students and/or parents and carers reporting concerning behaviour as soon as possible, so that the responses implemented by Moolap Primary School are timely and appropriate in the circumstances.
We encourage students to speak to your teacher. However, students are welcome to discuss their concerns with any trusted member of staff including teachers, wellbeing staff, school chaplain.
Parents or carers who develop concerns that their child is involved in or has witnessed bullying behaviour at Moolap Primary School should contact the Principal, Peter Knight, by phone on 5248 2284 or by email directed to moolap.ps@education.vic.gov.au

Investigations

When notified of alleged bullying behaviour, school staff are required to:

  1. record the details of the allegations in Compass, and
  2. inform staff involved, i.e. the relevant Classroom Teacher, Student Wellbeing Coordinator or Principal as deemed necessary.

The Principal or delegate is responsible for investigating allegations of bullying in a timely and sensitive manner. To appropriately investigate an allegation of bullying, the Principal / delegate may:

  • speak to the those involved in the allegations, including the target/s, the students allegedly engaging in bullying behaviour/s and any witnesses to the incidents
  • speak to the parents of the students involved
  • speak to the teachers of the students involved
  • take detailed notes of all discussions for future reference
  • obtain written statements from all or any of the above.

All communications with the Principal / delegate in the course of investigating an allegation of bullying will be managed sensitively. Investigations will be completed as quickly as possible to allow for the behaviours to be addressed in a timely manner.

The objective of completing a thorough investigation into the circumstances of alleged bullying behaviour is to determine the nature of the conduct and the students involved. A thorough understanding of the alleged bullying will inform staff about how to most effectively implement an appropriate response to that behaviour.

Serious bullying, including serious cyberbullying, is a criminal offence and may be referred to Victoria Police. For more information, see: Brodie’s Law.

Responses to bullying behaviours

When the Principal / delegate has sufficient information to understand the circumstances of the alleged bullying and the students involved, a number of strategies may be implemented to address the behaviour and support affected students in consultation with relevant staff.

There are a number of factors that will be considered when determining the most appropriate response to the behaviour. When making a decision about how to respond to bullying behaviour, Moolap Primary School will consider:

  • the age and maturity of the students involved
    • the severity and frequency of the bullying, and the impact it has had on the target student
    • whether the student/s engaging in bullying behaviour have displayed similar behaviour before
    • whether the bullying took place in a group or one-to-one context
    • whether the students engaging in bullying behaviour demonstrates insight or remorse for their behaviour
    • the alleged motive of the behaviour.

The Principal or delegate may implement all, or some of the following responses to bullying behaviours:

  • Offer wellbeing support, including referral to Student Wellbeing Staff, SSS, external provider to:
    • the target student or students
    • the students engaging in the bullying behaviour
    • affected students, including witnesses and/or friends of the target student.
  • Facilitate a restorative practice meeting with all or some of the students involved. The objective of restorative practice is to repair relationships that have been damaged by bringing about a sense of remorse and restorative action on the part of the person who has bullied someone and forgiveness by the person who has been bullied.
  • Facilitate a mediation between some or all of the students involved to help to encourage students to take responsibility for their behaviour and explore underlying reasons for conflict or grievance. Mediation is only suitable if all students are involved voluntarily and demonstrate a willingness to engage in the mediation process.
  • Facilitate a process using the Support Group Method, involving the target student(s), the students engaging in bullying behaviour and a group of students who are likely to be supportive of the target(s).
  • Implement a Method of Shared Concern process with all students involved in the bullying. 
  • Facilitate a Student Support Group meeting and/or Behaviour Support Plan for affected students.
  • Prepare a Safety Plan or Individual Management Plan restricting contact between target and students engaging in bullying behaviour.
  • Provide discussion and/or mentoring for different social and emotional learning competencies of the students involved, including resilience programs and activities, referral to student welfare support staff. Strategies as set out in our Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy
  • Monitor the behaviour of the students involved for an appropriate time and take follow up action if necessary.
  • Engage in school wide positive behaviour support with our staff and students, including programs such as:
    • Respectful Relationships
    • Schoolwide Positive Behaviour
  • Programs, incursions and excursions developed to address issue specific behaviour i.e.
    • Rise-Up Anti Bullying approach
    • Project Rockit
    • Bravehearts
    • Life Education
  • Opportunities for student inclusion
    • Café groups
    • Wellbeing groups and lunchtime activities
    • Buddy programs, peers support programs
  • Implement proportionate disciplinary consequences for the students engaging in bullying behaviour, which may include removal of privileges, detention, suspension and/or expulsion consistent with our Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy, the Ministerial Order on Suspensions and Expulsions and any other relevant Department policy.

Moolap Primary School understands the importance of monitoring and following up on the progress of students who have been involved in or affected by bullying behaviour. Where appropriate, school staff will also endeavour to provide parents and carers with updates on the management of bullying incidents.  

The Principal or delegate is responsible for maintaining up to date records of the investigation of and responses to bullying behaviour.

COMMUNICATION

This policy will be communicated to our school community in the following ways:

  • Available publicly on our school’s website
  • Included in staff induction processes
  • Included in our staff handbook/manual
  • Discussed at staff briefings/meetings as required
  • Discussed at parent information nights/sessions
  • Made available in hard copy from school administration upon request

Further information and resources

This policy should be read in conjunction with the following school policies:

  • Statement of Values and School Philosophy
    • Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy
    • Parent Complaints policy
    • Duty of Care Policy
    • Inclusion and Diversity Policy

Our school also follows Department of Education and Training policy relating to bullying including:

The following websites and resources provide useful information on prevention and responding to bullying, as well as supporting students who have been the target of bullying behaviours:


Evaluation

This policy will be reviewed every 2 years, or earlier as required following an incident or analysis of new research or school data relating to bullying, to ensure that the policy remains up to date, practical and effective.

Data will be collected through:

  • discussion and consultation with students and parent/carers
  • student and staff surveys 
  • assessment of other school-based data
  • Attitudes to School Survey
  • Parent Opinion Survey
  • SWPBS Committee

Proposed amendments to this policy will be discussed with relevant community members (SRC, School Council, Staff etc), as deemed necessary by the Principal.

POLICY Review and approval

Policy last reviewed24 October, 2022
ConsultationSchool Improvement Team (SIP) Student Representative Group (SRC), Moolap Community Group (MCG), School Council
Approved byPrincipal
Next scheduled review date24 October, 2024
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