ANTI-BULLYING/ HARASSMENT POLICY

Forming part of Giant Steps Tasmania’s Health & Safety Manual

 

Policy Statement

Giant Steps Tasmania rejects all forms of bullying and harassment. All students, adult clients, staff and parent/ carers have the right to be treated fairly and with dignity in an environment free from disruption, intimidation, harassment, victimisation and discrimination.

 All members of the school community contribute to preventing bullying by modelling and promoting appropriate behaviour and respectful relationships.

 Within the context of Giant Steps Tasmania, bullying by students and adult clients incorporates a student’s/ adult client’s understanding of the likely effect of his/ her actions and an intention to cause harm.

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff will attempt to engage students/ adult clients in an understanding of any behaviour which could be considered bullying with the intention of preventing its recurrence.

Giant Step Tasmania’s staff will attempt to advocate for non-verbal students/ adult clients who might be the victims of bullying.

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff who feel they have been the victims of bullying by other Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff or by parents/ carers or students/ adult clients should follow the procedures outlined in the Grievance Policy. (Please refer to Grievance Policy)

Parents/ Carers of Giant Steps Tasmania’s students/ adult clients who feel they have been the victims of bullying by Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff should follow the procedures outlined in the Grievance Policy.  (Please refer to Grievance Policy)

Purpose

Conflicts, disagreements, arguments and misunderstandings are part of daily life. School staff aim to manage conflict situations in a way that gives all parties a voice. Students/ Adult clients are given the opportunity to express concerns, feelings and actions with the aim of reducing negative conflict.

This policy is not about dealing with day-to-day conflict; its focus is on bullying and harassment as outlined in the definition below.

Definition

Bullying:

  • is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons.
  • includes cyberbullying , which is bullying through information and communication technologies.
  • can involve humiliation, domination, intimidation, victimisation and all forms of harassment including that based on sex, race, disability, religion, homosexuality or transgender.
  • can happen anywhere: at school, travelling to and from school, in sporting teams, between neighbours or in the workplace.
  • of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved including bystanders.

Bullying behaviour can be:

  • verbal e.g. name calling, teasing, abuse, putdowns, sarcasm, insults, threats, sending anonymous messages to or about an individual
  • physical e.g. hitting, punching, kicking, scratching, tripping, spitting with the appropriate knowledge of the likely effect of such action and an intention to harm
  • social e.g. ignoring, excluding, ostracising, alienating, making inappropriate gestures
  • psychological e.g. spreading rumours, dirty looks, hiding or damaging possessions, malicious SMS and email messages, inappropriate use of camera phones

Conflict or fights between equals and single incidents are not defined as bullying.

Harassment:

  • is the treatment of certain groups of people less favourably than others on the basis of certain personal characteristics (e.g. race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, breastfeeding, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status)

Harassing behaviour can be:

  • telling insulting jokes about a particular racial group
  • sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails or text messages
  • displaying racially offensive or pornographic material (e.g. on posters, screen savers or clothing)
  • asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including his or her sex life

 A one-off incident can constitute harassment. Any incidents of harassment at Giant Steps Tasmania are responded to quickly and appropriately.

Implementation

Individual Education Plans, (IEPs) will include Social and Emotional Learning strategies to address the student’s/ adult client’s particular needs and support anti-bullying/ harassment.

The Management of Giant Steps Tasmania has a responsibility to:

  • provide professional learning to ensure that all staff have a thorough understanding of bullying and harassment and are able to apply the policy according to its intentions
  • promote awareness and understanding of bullying and harassment wherever possible by embedding discussion and activities in the curriculum and learning experiences
  • actively work with the school community to promote a culture that will not tolerate bullying and harassment and where students/ adult clients feel safe expressing their needs
  • treat seriously all claims of bullying and harassment
  • apply the policy consistently and consult with the school community to review the effectiveness of the policy

 The classroom staff of Giant Steps Tasmania have a responsibility to:

  • skill students/ adult clients wherever possible with appropriate strategies to deal with incidents
  • help students/ adult clients understand what their actions mean to others through the use of e.g. social stories
  • take prompt action when incidents of bullying and harassment are witnessed or reported.
  • apply the school policy consistently, both in the classroom setting and in the school grounds and on excursions when able to and advised of incident/situation
  • advocate for non-verbal students/ adult clients whom they feel may be being bullied/ harassed
  • monitor those who have been bullied or harassed and those who have instigated the bullying and harassment
  • establish an environment where students/ adult clients feel safe, expectations are clearly defined and there is follow-up of inappropriate behaviour
  • maintain communication with parents/ carers in relation to issues of bullying/harassment.

 Parents/ Carers have a responsibility to:

  • understand the definition of what bullying and harassment is and is not
  • support the school in resolving incidents of bullying and harassment
  • inform the school office when incidents take place
  • wherever possible, make it clear to their children/ young people that bullying and harassment is not acceptable
  • support the consequences applied by the school
  • be an advocate for their children/ young people
  • be a role model and set an example of how to solve and resolve differences if they occur, especially within the school setting

 Reporting an Incident

When a student/ adult client, member of staff or parent reports an incident of bullying or harassment, this will be taken very seriously.

Parents/ carers and students/ adult clients may choose to report incidents of bullying or harassment, including cyber bullying, to the class teacher/ leader in the first instance and, if the class teacher/ leader feels the incident is serious or unresolved, the Principal will be involved.

Incidents of bullying and harassment must be documented using the Bullying/ Harassment Report Form (copy attached). Where possible the documentation should be completed on the day of the incident or as soon as possible afterwards. A brief statement of facts needs to be completed and what action was taken (if any). The nature of the incident may mean the Principal is involved where further investigation is required.

Communication

With verbal students/ adult clients who understand the possible effect of their actions, if a student/ adult client has been found to be involved in bullying or harassment they will be told about their behaviour and the effect it has. Verbal students/ adult clients will be asked if they want to take part in a restorative conference. The purpose of a restorative conference is to agree on a mutual resolution. Commitments reached are to be recorded in writing. All documentation is put on the students’ files.

For non-verbal students/ adult clients and students/ adult clients who do not yet understand the possible effects of their actions, the emphasis is on promoting understanding and reducing the likelihood of bullying/ harassment recurring through the use of social stories and pictorial representations of desired behaviour.

Classroom staff do not give parents/ carers the names of students/ adult clients (other than their own child/ adult client) involved in a bullying incident.

Resolution

An appropriate resolution to a bullying/ harassment event will depend on many factors. The resolution must support the victim and monitor this person frequently.

Consequences may include a commitment to stop the behaviour, close monitoring and/or restricted movement in the playground, internal school support and external agency support.

Parents/ carers are informed in writing or by telephone if their student/ adult client has been involved in bullying and harassing others. Classroom staff do not give parents/ carers the names of students/ adult clients (other than their own student/ adult client) involved in a bullying incident.

Parents/ carers of students/ adult clients who are bullied/ harassed are to be informed either by telephone or in writing that an incident has occurred and the steps taken to address the incident.

Record Keeping

Clear records will be kept of any bullying or harassment issue. The school recognises the potential repeated and recurring nature of bullying and harassment. Record keeping practices will help the school decide what next level of action would be needed if there were further incidents of bullying/harassment from an individual.