What is bullying?
Bullying is defined in the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools as "unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time". More information on the definition of bullying, types of bullying and the impact and indicators of bullying is available in Sections 2 and 3 of the procedures for schools.
Who is responsible for dealing with bullying in schools?
Responsibility for tackling bullying in schools falls to the level of the individual school.
New Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools were published in September 2013. The New Procedures and the associated Department Circular 0045/2013 apply to all recognised primary and post-primary schools and to centres for education (as defined in the Education Act 1998) which are attended by pupils under the age of 18 years.
School authorities and school personnel are required to adhere to these procedures in dealing with allegations and incidents of bullying.
The purpose of these procedures is to give direction and guidance to school authorities and school personnel in preventing and tackling school-based bullying behaviour amongst its pupils and in dealing with any negative impact within school of bullying behaviour that occurs elsewhere.
The new procedures require all schools to formally adopt and implement an anti-bullying policy that fully complies with the requirements of the procedures.
All Boards of Management are now required to immediately commence the necessary arrangements for developing and formally adopting an anti-bullying policy which fully complies with the requirements of these procedures.
It is expected that this will be completed by each school as early as possible in the 2013/14 school year but in any event by no later than the end of the second term of the 2013/14 school year.
The school's anti-bullying policy must then be made available to school personnel, published on the school website (or where none exists, be otherwise readily accessible to parents and pupils on request) and provided to the Parents' Association (where one exists).
The Board of Management of each school in developing its anti-bullying policy must formulate the policy in co-operation with both teaching and non-teaching school staff under the leadership of the Principal and in consultation with parents and pupils.
Word versions of the templates which must be used by all schools are provided via the following links:
Where can I get more information about bullying?
The Anti-Bullying Procedures set out the requirements on schools in relation to preventing and dealing with bullying behaviour. There are also a number of bodies/groups that provide information and assistance on the topic of bullying including the Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University and the National Parents Council.
Action Plan on Bullying
The Action Plan on Bullying, which was published in January 2013, sets out the Department of Education and Skills’ approach to tackling bullying and promoting an anti-bullying culture in schools. The twelve actions in the plan focus on support for schools, teacher training, research and awareness raising and aim to ensure that all forms of bullying are addressed. Implementation of the actions in the Plan is ongoing and good progress has been made in all areas:
- New Anti-Bullying Procedures, which were published in September 2013, are currently being implemented by all 4,000 primary and post primary schools in the country. Training materials for parents, teachers and Boards of Management are being developed and rolled out. More information about free anti-bullying training for parents can be at www.npc.ie - National Parents Council Primary.
- The Department supports a number of anti-bullying awareness raising initiatives including the Europe-wide Safer-Internet day and the Stand Up! Against Homophobic and Transphobic bullying campaign, organised by BeLonG To Youth Services. Funding is also provided to the internet safety initiative, Webwise, which has launched a number of resources aimed at tackling cyberbullying.
- "Being LGBT in School" A Resource for Post-Primary Schools to Prevent homophobic and Transphobic Bullying and Support LGBT Students was developed by the Gay and Lesbian EqualityNetwork (GLEN) as part of the implementation of the Action Plan on Bullying. It will support schools in the implementation of the Department’s Anti-Bullying Procedures.
- A new national anti-bullying website, www.tacklebullying.ie, was launched in November 2015. The website will provide a single point of information and support for young people, parents and teachers affected by bullying.
- In addition, two pieces of research suggested in the Plan around children with special needs and social media have been published.