Children’s positive attitudes towards themselves and each other must be encouraged and reinforced as a secure social climate is what prevents bullying in the long-term. Children should know that they have a right to feel safe and comfortable in their school and that all types of bullying is totally unacceptable.
The following steps can be taken by schools in Ireland to stem the tide of bullying which is gradually rising every day.
1. Implement the recommendations put in place by the Department of Education and Science’s Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour in primary and post-primary schools, namely by drafting a whole school, pro-active and constantly evolving policy on bullying within the framework of an overall school Code of Behaviour and Discipline. This policy should include:
- A clear definition of bullying and the forms it takes.
- A statement that bullying is unacceptable behaviour and that it will not be tolerated.
- An agreement that pupils should support each other by reporting all instances of bullying.
- An acknowledgement that all reports of bullying will be investigated and dealt with sympathetically.
- A clear statement on how the school will handle an alleged case of bullying.
2. Raise awareness of bullying in the school through:
- An annual awareness week with various classes and events devoted to increasing knowledge of what bullying is and the effects it can have. Competitions run on the theme in art, poetry and prose and plays written and performed in conjunction with the children. Consider having the children sign up to an anti-bullying pledge.
- A staff day for teachers to deepen their understanding of the matter and to get suggestions on addressing bullying including the establishment of a working party.
- An evening for parents, school management and the wider community to learn about bullying and to involve them in the drafting of the school policy.
3. Implement preventative measures by:
- Putting in place a programme designed to help children view and deal with conflict in a positive manner.
- Giving children the skills and mandate to deal with some forms of conflict themselves.
- Establishing peer mentoring or mediation programmes.