Addressing student Bullying in Schools Policy


STATEMENT OF POLICY

We promote a safe school environment where students, parents and staff will be free from bullying.

INTRODUCTION

The Diocesan Education Committee acknowledges bullying can be present in all relationships within Catholic education, and that all school communities need continuing education so that their members can recognise bullying in its varied forms (both overt and covert). Bullying is a problem of significance that must not be ignored. It has been associated with low self-esteem, difficulties in forming relationships, increased rates of absenteeism, poor health, depression and suicide.

RATIONALE

We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and, at the core of the Church’s pastoral action is a deep respect for the innate dignity and uniqueness of the individual: The person of each individual human being, in his or her material and spiritual needs, is at the heart of Christ’s teaching: this is why promotion of the human person is the goal of the Catholic School.” (John Paul II in Address to the First National Meeting of the Catholic School in Italy, in L’Osservatore Romano, 24 November 1991, p.4).

Our Christian ethic maintains that all students, their families, volunteers and employees within Catholic education have the right to a learning/work environment free of bullying. All members of the Catholic education community accept the responsibility to promote the development and maintenance of such an environment and to take direct initiatives to prevent bullying behaviour. The principles of transparency, healing, forgiveness and conversion are features of any process aimed at addressing bullying.

POLICY DIRECTIVE

Each school will create an understanding of what is acceptable behaviour and encourage parents to promote acceptable behaviour at home by:

  • encouraging the development of students’ empathetic responses to other people
  • developing students’ skills in assertiveness, self-protection and conflict resolution
  • creating an atmosphere where all members of the school community will feel free to come forward to report incidents of bullying, and
  • being future focused and responsive to emerging trends in the area of bullying.

Incidents of bullying will be immediately addressed to ensure the safety of all members of the school community. Ongoing pastoral care of all parties will be an essential feature of the school’s response to bullying. If needed, professional counselling will be offered or arranged through the school and the Townsville Catholic Education Office.

Each school will develop a policy and process to address the issue of bullying and a strategy by which all members of the school community will be informed about the nature of bullying and the school’s policy. Schools will develop a process by which incidents of bullying will be addressed including opportunities for counselling and reconciliation for any of its members involved in bullying.

The school will develop learning programs that assist teachers, students and wider school community to develop strategies to prevent bullying and to assist students to deal with bullying and strategies to monitor the incidents of bullying and the effectiveness of the school’s policy.

REFERENCES AND DEFINITIONS

By legal definition, bullying is repeated behaviour that:

  1.  Is directed at an individual or a group (or is a pattern of behaviour)
  2. Is often intimidating, humiliating, undermining, and
  3. Is unwelcome and a reasonable person would consider the behaviour to be offensive, humiliating or intimidating for the individual or group. Whether or not the offender intended to offend is irrelevant.

Bullying includes cyberbullying which is bullying or harassment through the use of technology. An example of this is when someone uses the internet or a mobile device to hurt or embarrass another party.

This policy applies to all Catholic Schools and College, Kindergarten, OHSC and Early Learning Centres of the Townsville Diocese, and the Townsville Catholic Education Office.

Legislation

  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth)
  • Workplace Gender Equity Act 2012 (Commonwealth)
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Commonwealth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Commonwealth)
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth)
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth)
  • Queensland Catholic Education Commission
  • A Guide to Develop a Framework for Staff Formation in Catholic Schools in Queensland (August 2012) Formation for Staff Members in Catholic Schools (February 2010)
Policy Number DEC 09_15 Date originally accepted December, 2011; December, 2015
Approved by Diocesan Education Council Date Updated 08 March, 2016