Pointers to tackling bullying

27th February 2004 at 00:00
Renfrewshire's policy on tackling bullying was informed by good practice in the authority's own schools, particularly Trinity High and Arkleston Primary in Renfrew, as well as further afield through the Scottish Executive's Anti-Bullying Network.

"We are making a concerted effort to tackle bullying," says school support officer Elaine Mackay. "Schools still have free rein to develop their own initiatives but the monitoring and reporting processes and the ethos are shared and controlled."

The policy gives the essential definition: "Bullying is an unacceptable form of behaviour through which an individual or groups of individuals feel threatened, abused or undermined by another individual or group of individuals.

"Bullying is behaviour which can be defined as a repeated attack of a physical, psychological, social or verbal nature by those who are able to exert influence over others.

"Bullying can take many forms. It may include physical aggression, intimidation, threatening, extorting, pressurising, name-calling or teasing. Less obvious examples such as ignoring or excluding someone are also regarded as bullying and their possible effects should not be minimised."

It recommends that schools:

* reassure bullied children that they are not to blame;

* create systems for early identification of vulnerable pupils;

* provide a bullying crisis service offering support and advice;

* provide opportunities for isolated children to make friends;

* give older children who have experienced bullying the chance to support younger bullied pupils;

* assign named staff to pupils who have been persistently bullied;

* provide small groups of supportive peers; and

* give the message that there are no innocent bystanders.

The document says that bullying behaviour can be changed by: * making pupils who bully accountable for their behaviour;

* developing sanctions that make pupils think about their misbehaviour, rather than sanctions that depend on the threat of force;

* helping pupils to communicate more clearly in conflict situations;

* using behaviour cards to monitor bullying; and

* adopting a no blame approach to resolving problems, not establishing guilt.

Tackling Bullying in Renfrewshire, www.renfrewshire.gov.uk (search "bullying") www.antibullying.net

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