A Vision for Marist Education
Marcellin Champagnat’s great desire and legacy is that we relate to each other and to the young people in our care as the member of a loving family would do. Each person should feel at home among us. A warmth of welcome, acceptance and belonging should prevail where everyone has a sense of being valued and believed regardless of their role or their social standing. (In the Footsteps of Marcellin Champagnat, p.45)
The John Berne School seeks to create a learning and work environment free from intimidation, humiliation and hurt. We all share a responsibility to create a culture of caring which will not tolerate bullying. This policy aims to provide clear and agreed procedures and strategies for combating bullying in the school. This document provides strategies for administrators and teachers to create a positive school environment where bullying does not thrive.
The National Safe Schools Framework (NSSF) Definition of Bullying
Bullying is a pattern of repeated physical, verbal, psychological or social aggression that is directed towards a specific student by someone with more power and is intended to cause harm, distress and/or create fear. Bullying may be carried out overtly (e.g. face-to-face) or covertly (e.g. through repeated social exclusion or via technology). It is a sub-category of aggression and is different to, but also related to, harassment and violence. It is not the same as conflict or social dislike even though, in some cases, the outcome of both can be bullying.
The National Safe Schools Framework’s definition of bullying places an emphasis on a pattern of repeated behaviour as outlined above. Consequently, conflict between equals and single incidents are not regarded as bullying but may require the intervention of the school.
The different types of bullying identified by the NSSF include:
- Face-to-face bullying (sometimes referred to as direct bullying) involves physical actions such as punching or kicking or overt verbal actions such as name-calling and insulting.
- Covert bullying (sometimes referred to as indirect bullying) is a subtle type of non-physical bullying which isn’t easily seen by others and is conducted out of sight, and often unacknowledged by adults.
- Cyberbullying occurs through the use of information or communication technologies such as instant messaging, text messages, email and social networking sites. It has many similarities with offline bullying but it differs in that the student(s) who is/are bullying can be anonymous, it can reach a wide audience and the sent or uploaded material can be difficult to remove.
Most students who cyberbully also bully off-line. It is now recognised that many forms of covert bullying appear to have significant potential for serious harm.
The school has a strong belief in the importance of restorative practices to resolve conflict between individuals. It aims to restore the relationship between the conflicting parties by encouraging and supporting their reflection on their behaviour, looking at new and different ways of responding in the future, and of meeting face-to-face to discuss the matter. This approach is adopted for both single incidents and for addressing bullying.
The School’s Duty of Care
The school exercises its duty of care towards our students by intervening when bullying is foreseeable. Likewise the school reduces the risk of bullying through the education of our students.
The school has an anti-bullying program, which aims to educate the students about bullying. This takes place during school assemblies, in workshops with year groups and through our counselling service. The program also aims to raise the awareness of parents about bullying through parent meetings, information nights and the school newsletter. It aims to raise parents’ awareness and encourages them to report any concerns they have about the bullying of their child.
The School has a set of anti-bullying response procedures. Staff, students and parents are made aware of these procedures.
The Principal is duty-bound to report conduct to the police where a serious criminal offence has been identified. Such circumstances can include (but are not limited to) stalking, destruction of property, threats to inflict serious injury and/or kill, physical and sexual assault, offensive behaviour, discrimination, cyberstalking, defamation, breach of privacy, hacking, sexting and creating or possessing and/or disseminating child pornography.
In many instances, cyber-bullying can constitute criminal conduct, especially when the behaviour is seriously threatening, harassing or intimidating. According to The National Safe Schools Framework (2011) “E-crimes are illegal actions that are carried out through the use of internet or mobile phone technology. They include: child pornography, fraud, impersonation, or sending words or images that cause offence, distress, menace or threaten. Most of these are crimes under Australian federal law but some are also (or only) crimes under some Australian state laws.”
If unacceptable behaviour occurs and threatens the well-being of a student at the school but is done outside school hours, off-site or through the use of a student’s personal mobile device, the school may still be obliged to respond.
The Role of the Teacher
Marcellin provided clear guidance for all those involved in Marist education.
Education is, above all else, the work of good example, since virtue strengthens authority. It is natural for young people to imitate what they see, and actions do more to persuade than words or commands. To educate young people, the teacher must have a claim on their respect and obedience. The claims that young people recognise and respect best are good example, professional skill and compassion.
We set clear standards of honesty, mutual respect and tolerance. We are people who are ready to trust, forgive and reconcile.
As teachers at The John Berne School, we recognise that we play an important role in creating a social environment where each person feels respected and valued. To promote a healthy social environment we:
- Speak to our students in a respectful manner.
- Challenge others to take a positive view of our students.
- Look for opportunities to affirm students.
- When correcting students, do so in a manner that preserves their dignity and
in a quiet non-aggressive fashion.
- Foster a deeper engagement with students through co-curricular activities.
- Model behaviour which is non-confrontational and gentle.
- We aim to develop healthy, open relationships with our students.
Relevant National and State Requirements and Recommedations
- The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008)
- The National Safe Schools Framework (2011) adopts a whole school approach to safety and wellbeing.
- The Board of Studies Registration Systems and Member Non-Government Schools (NSW) Manual includes Requirement 5.6 describing conditions for a Safe and Supportive (School) Environment.
- Children and Young Persons Act 1998 (Care and Protection) with reference to Chapter 16A Exchange of Risk of Harm information:
- Keep Them Safe: A Shared Approach to Child Wellbeing, with reference to the Mandatory Reporting Guide, specifically, physical abuse and psychological harm.
- Education Act Part VA i.e .Exchange of history of student violence information.
- Catholic Education Commission New South Wales Anti-bullying Policies: Action Requirements Memorandum ref: 249/10.