What Is Bullying?
The school has adopted the following collaborative definition of bullying which is our shared understanding of what bullying is:
Bullying is any deliberate, hurtful, upsetting, frightening or threatening behaviour by an individual or a group towards another person or group of people. It is repeated over a period of time and it is very difficult for the victims to defend themselves (remember STOP – it happens Several Times on Purpose). Bullying is mean and results in worry, fear, pain and distress to the victim’s.
Bullying can be:
- Emotional being unfriendly, excluding, tormenting (e.g. hiding books, threatening gestures), ridicule, humiliation
- Verbal name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, threats, teasing, making rude remarks, making fun of someone
- Physical pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching, throwing stones, biting, spitting, punching or any other forms of violence, taking or hiding someone’s things
- Racist racial taunts, graffiti, gestures, making fun of culture and religion
- Sexual unwanted physical contact or sexually abusive or sexist comments
- Homophobic because of/or focussing on the issue of sexuality
- Online/cyber setting up ‘hate websites’, sending offensive text messages, emails and abusing the victims via their mobile phones
- Any unfavourable or negative comments, gestures or actions made to someone relating to their disability or special educational needs.
Bullying is not:
It is important to understand that bullying is not the odd occasion of falling out with friends, name calling, arguments or when the occasional trick or joke is played on someone. It is bullying if it is done several times on purpose (STOP). Children sometimes fall out or say things because they are upset. When occasional problems of this kind arise it is not classed as bullying. It is an important part of children’s development to learn how to deal with friendship breakdowns, the odd name calling or childish prank. We all have to learn how to deal with these situations and develop social skills to repair relationships.
Where does bullying happen?
It can happen anywhere – in the classroom, in the corridor, in the toilets, in the dining hall, in the school grounds. Bullying may also happen on the way to and from school. In such cases, the Head teacher is empowered by law to deal with such incidents but must do so in accordance with the school’s policy.
At Nunnykirk School, we are concerned with our children’s conduct and welfare outside as well as inside school and we will do what we can to address any bullying issues that occur off the school premises. The following steps may be taken:
- Talk to the local Community Police Officer about problems on the streets
- Talk to the transport companies about bullying on school buses and in school taxis
- Talk to the Head Teachers of other schools whose children may be involved in bullying off the premises
- Discuss coping strategies with parents
- Talk to the children about how to handle or avoid bullying outside the school premises
- Pay attention to supporting our children to develop the skills to keep themselves safe online from people who bully through social medial and other digital methods
Signs and Symptoms
A child may indicate, by different signs or behaviour, that he or she is being bullied.
Adults should be aware of these possible signs and investigate further if a child:
- is frightened of coming to school
- doesn’t want to go on the school bus/in the taxi
- begs to be taken to school a different way to their normal method
- changes their usual routine
- begins truanting
- becomes withdrawn, anxious or lacking in confidence
- starts stammering
- runs away or attempts to run away
- attempts or threatens suicide
- cries themselves to sleep at night or has nightmares
- feels ill in the morning
- begins to under perform in school work
- comes home with clothes torn or books damaged
- has possessions go “missing”
- asks for money or starts stealing money (to pay the bully)
- has dinner or other monies continually “lost”
- has unexplained cuts or bruises
- comes home hungry (money/snack/sandwiches have been stolen)
- becomes aggressive, disruptive or unreasonable
- starts swearing or using aggressive language for no apparent reason
- is bullying other children or siblings
- stops eating
- is frightened to say what’s wrong
- gives improbable excuses for any of the above
These signs and behaviours could indicate other problems, but bullying should be considered a possibility and should be taken seriously and investigated as soon as possible.
What can you do if you are being bullied?
Wherever you are in school, you have the right to feel safe. Nobody has the right to make you feel unhappy. If someone is bullying you, it is important to remember that it is not your fault and there are people who can help you.
The children have all been asked about bullying in PSD classes, and some of our children have led inspirational assemblies on this theme. Here are some of their strategies to help deal with bullies:
- Try not to let the bully know that he/she is making you feel upset.
- Try to ignore them.
- Be assertive – stand up to them, look at them directly in the eye, tell them to stop and mean it.
- Stay in a group, bullies usually pick on individuals.
- Get away as quickly as you can.
- Tell someone you can trust – it can be a teacher, a teaching assistant, a parent or carer, a friend, a brother, a sister or a relative.
- If you are scared, ask a friend to go with you when you tell someone.
- If you don’t feel you can talk to someone about it, write it down and post it in the "Pupil Voice" box.
- When you tell an adult about the bullying give them as many facts as you can (What? Who? Where? When? Why? How?).
- Keep a diary of what’s been happening and refer to it when you tell someone.
- Keep on speaking out until someone listens and helps you.
- Never be afraid to do something about it and quick.
- Don’t suffer in silence.
- Don’t blame yourself for what is happening.
- Call a helpline.
Ignoring bullying is cowardly and unfair to the victim. Staying silent means the bully has won and gives them more power. There are ways you can help without putting yourself in danger. The children have also discussed this question in class and some of the strategies they suggested are listed below:
- Don’t smile or laugh at the situation.
- Don’t rush over and take the bully on yourself.
- Don’t be made to join in.
- If safe to do so, encourage the bully to stop bullying.
- If you can, let the bully know you do not like his or her behaviour.
- Shout for help.
- Let the victim(s) know that you are going to get help.
- Tell a member of staff as soon as you can.
- Try and befriend the person being bullied.
- Encourage the person to talk to someone and get help.
- Ask someone you trust about what to do.
- If you don’t feel you can talk to someone about it, write it down and post it in the ‘Pupil Voice’ box.
- Call a helpline for some advice.