Bullying is an unacceptable form of behaviour in this school which will not be tolerated. At Ark Helenswood we define a 'bully' as someone who causes unhappiness and fear in someone else over a period of time; a person who wishes to exert power or influence over others which results in persistent distress being felt by the victim. This includes any out of school incidents involving the use of text message, mobile phone, or any other electronic means, which then subsequently involves students within the school.
Specific strategies for dealing with bullying
It is important that students know to whom, where and when they can go for help. A student can talk to any adult or peer mediator. In practice, many bullying incidents are brought to light by the bullied persons’ friends or classmates.
When an incident of bullying is reported, the person dealing with the matter should:
- Listen - making it clear that he/she is taking the matter seriously; make brief notes.
- Explain to the student that she has done the right thing by coming to tell. It is her right to pursue her education in peace.
- Get the student to write an account of how she felt when she was being bullied. It is important that it is her feelings she records and not details of specific incidents. If she finds writing difficult she may prefer to draw or tell the teacher who can write for her.
- As soon as possible set up a meeting with the students most closely involved. This group should not exceed 6/7 and should comprise the 'core' group of aggressors as well as some from the 'fringe'. In addition there should be girls who support the victim so that there is a 'mix' of interests.
- The victim should be given the opportunity to be present at the discussion but does not have to come. The teacher becomes her 'representative' and will, using the student's account, explain to the group how she feels. It is made clear to all that no blame is being attached to anyone and that no punishment will be imposed as long as some solution/progress can be made by negotiation.
- The group will discuss ways in which the situation can be improved and make an action plan.
- A review date needs to be set for 2/3 days time when the group will meet again to discuss progress, with the proviso that if anyone feels things are going wrong before the review, they have a right to help.
- If the victim is not present, the results of the meeting need to be passed on to her and she needs to be involved in the review process.
- Parents will be informed about the situation, the action taken and the results of the review.
- At the review establish whether there has been progress. If there has, set another date for about a fortnight's time, after which, if things seem to have improved, leave the situation to 'heal' but advise all concerned that they can come back for help at any time.
- If things do not improve, issue a contract of behaviour to all. There will be 2/3 clauses which are specific and achievable and negotiated with the students. There will be rewards and sanctions attached; these are non-negotiable. Students, parents and teacher sign, and agree a review date (about 5 days).
- If the situation does not improve - sanctions must be applied eg, community service at break or lunchtimes. In extreme cases change of teaching groups , internal exclusion for a limited period or change of site, or a fixed term exclusion through the Exclusion Room.
- If physical violence is used negotiation ceases and the matter is referred to the Principal.