Safety at School

Bullying

What is bullying?

  • There are some specific types of bullying behaviour:
  • verbal or written abuse – such as targeted name-calling or jokes, or displaying offensive posters
  • violence – including threats of violence
  • sexual harassment – unwelcome or unreciprocated conduct of a sexual nature, which could reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or intimidation
  • homophobia and other hostile behaviour towards students relating to gender and sexuality
  • discrimination including racial discrimination – treating people differently because of their identity
  • cyberbullying – either online or via mobile phone.

What is not bullying?

  • There are also some behaviours, which, although they might be unpleasant or distressing, are not bullying:
  • mutual conflict – which involves a disagreement, but not an imbalance of power. Unresolved mutual conflict can develop into bullying if one of the parties targets the other repeatedly in retaliation.
  • single-episode acts of nastiness or physical aggression, or aggression directed towards many different people, is not bullying
  • social rejection or dislike is not bullying unless it involves de- liberate and repeated attempts to cause distress, exclude or create dislike by others.

Bullying is not acceptable

It is important to recognise bully- ing behaviours and make it clear they are unacceptable, but it is also important to try not to label students as ‘a bully’.

Most students don’t want bullying to occur but often don’t know what to do about it. It’s import- ant that all forms of bullying are taken seriously and that schools, parents and students work together to ensure that everyone understands that bullying is not acceptable – ever.

Bullying roles

People in a bullying scenario may take on one of the following roles: • a person who engages in bullying behaviour

  • a target who is subjected to the bullying behaviour
  • an assistant who assists the bullying behaviour and actively joins in
  • a supporter who encourages and gives silent approval to the bullying, by smiling, laughing or making comments
  • a silent bystander who sees or knows about someone being bullied but is passive and does nothing, this may be an adult bystander
  • a defender who supports the student who is being bullied by intervening, getting teacher support or comforting them.

All adults, including teachers, school staff and parents, should model positive bystander behaviour and intervene if they observe bullying behaviour occurring between students. Standing by and doing nothing, or leaving students to ‘sort it out’ themselves, sends the message to the whole school community that the bullying behaviour is being condoned.

Young people are still learning and practicing social skills. Everyone has the capacity to change their behaviour but being given
a label can stick and make these changes much harder.

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