Recently, we completed our anti-bullying awareness week at Greenfield Community School to develop an understanding of what bullying is and what students can do when they are being bullied or witness bullying. It is a myth for any school to say that “there is no bullying at this school”. Good schools acknowledge that bullying occurs and take action. As a result of our high expectations and strong pastoral programme, we have very few instances of bullying at our school, we take any reports of bullying very seriously and take decisive and immediate action to investigate and stop bullying.
Our definition of bullying at Greenfield Community School is:
- A frequent or repetitive pattern of oppressive behaviour – verbal, physical, or digital/cyber by an individual or group upon another that is intended to cause fear, distress, anxiety or harm to that other.
This definition is important as it refers to frequent and repetitive patterns. We are fortunate at Greenfield Community School because any behaviour that could be interpreted as bullying, which is reported in time, is always dealt with before they become bullying incidences. Individual name-calling, being rude, one-off acts of aggression, while also dealt with in a serious manner, are not necessarily bullying but could, if not confronted, become bullying. This effectiveness in dealing with issues is due to most students feeling that they are able to speak to our prefects, teachers or Grade Level Coordinators and the Deputy Head. We regularly have students come to us to ask for help in resolving a conflict, which is usually sorted by giving both parties a safe space to sit down, talk about each other’s point of view and come to a common understanding. Knowing that people, with their differences, can also be right. This in an underpinning theme of the IB ethos and international mindedness.
One practice that we have introduced in the younger years is the introduction of the Kelso’s Choice chart. Students choose how to react to certain situations and those choices they make will be based on what they have learned. For this reason, it is so important that parents and school approach conflict management consistently. Sometimes, as parents, it is difficult (if not impossible!) to look at any incident that has caused your child emotional distress or physical harm in an objective manner. However, we implore parents to teach your child to be patient, to reflect before they act,to think about their actions and to be principled in all they do. Feel free to go through this chart when discussing potential conflict scenarios. Children grow into teenagers who grow into adults. They need to be taught how to stand up for themselves and to know how to deal with unpleasant situations.
Having said this, if a student or parent believes bullying is happening, then we insist that it gets reported immediately. Perhaps your child has made you promise not to tell the school, or insists that it’s “just kids messing or joking”. If you have any concerns about your child’s welfare, you should contact their Homeroom teacher or Grade Level Coordinator. Bullying will not stop unless it is reported.
Here are some signs that your child may be being bullied:
- Unwillingness to go to school.
- Frequent illnesses such as headaches and sore throats.
- Falling away in their academic progress.
- Damaged uniform and regular loss of personal items.
- Loss of confidence and sudden, unexpected mood swings.
- Sudden, prolonged periods of quietness.
- Anonymous telephone calls.
- Unwillingness to socialise, tendency to want to be alone.
What can you as parents do:
- Demonstrate an interest in your child’s social and school life, encourage them to be friends with others. This includes play-dates, trips to the mall, inviting other kids over.
- Discussing bullying with your child, are the incidences bullying or is it conflict between two children that could be resolved by a safe conversation space?
- Do not tell your child that bullying is normal or part of growing up.
- Encourage your child to take action, but not to retaliate in a physical way or by name-calling. Your child has the option of going to a senior prefect, any teacher, GLC, counsellor, nurse or Ms Kehoe.
- Lead by example by being firm but positive and calm with discipline, not aggressive.
- Confront the possibility that your child may be a bully. If the school contacts you suggesting that your child may have been involved in bullying, try not to go on the defensive or to find excuses for the bullying behaviour. Work constructively with the school to find a solution to the problem. One of the tragedies of bullying victims is that they can go on to become bullies themselves.
- Report it, even if you think it hasn’t escalated to bullying yet. Let us know so that we can carefully monitor your child and their peers.
|Bullying Awareness Week
We had several activities during Bullying awareness week from Kahoot quizzes and video making in grade 6, how to help a victim sessions in Grade 7 and scenario and role-playing in grade 8.
The week ended with a whole school bullying awareness assembly with a specific focus on cyber bullying.
Did you know the legal age for Facebook and Snapchat is 13? Please be watchful of your child’s online activity. As parents it is difficult to balance a child’s right to privacy with your desire to protect them. Click here to see an article on balancing this issue.
Contributed by: Sinead Kehoe
Deputy Head of Secondary