The role of the school is to provide the highest possible standard of education for all its pupils. A stable, secure learning environment is an essential requirement to achieve this goal. Bullying behaviour, by its very nature, undermines and dilutes the quality of education and imposes psychological damage. As such, it is an issue which must be positively and firmly addressed through a range of school-based measures and strategies through which all members of the school community are enabled to act effectively in dealing with this behaviour.
The Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour in Primary and Post-Primary Schools, published by the Department of Education and Science, aim to assist schools in devising measures to prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to increase the awareness of bullying behaviour in the school community as a whole, e.g., among school management, teaching and non-teaching staff, pupils and parents/guardians as well as those from the local community who interact with the school.
These Guidelines recommend that the prevention of bullying should be a fundamental part of a written Code of Behaviour and Discipline in all schools. There should be a school policy on dealing with bullying, within the framework of a Code of Discipline which should include:
- The creation of a school ethos that encourages students to tell about bullying.
- Raising awareness of bullying as unacceptable behaviour with school management, students, teachers and parents.
- Comprehensive monitoring and supervision of school activities.
- Developing procedures for reporting, investigating and dealing with bullying.
- Developing a programme of support for those affected by and involved in bullying.
- Working with local agencies to combat all forms of bullying in school and the local community.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of school policy on bullying behaviour.
The website of the Department of Education and Science contains a sample anti bullying policy template as well as suggested steps to follow in developing and revising/updating this policy.
The Department has also published guidelines on child abuse and bullying for teachers, reflecting the particular circumstances of primary and post-primary schools and based on the recommendations of the ‘Children First’ report.
For further information, see the Department of Education and Science.