Anti-bullying and harassment
Bullying and harassment will not be tolerated at CSC. Bullying and harassment occur when one or more people abuse the power that they have to hurt, embarrass or humiliate others. This hurtful behaviour may be repeated over time.
When a person is bullied or harassed, they can be negatively affected by:
- feelings of anger, embarrassment, loss of self-confidence or humiliation
- not wanting to come to CSC
- becoming depressed
- experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Examples of behaviours that could constitute bullying and harassment are:
- threatening a person
- working with a gang or group in order to frighten, embarrass or humiliate a person
- hitting, punching, pushing or employing other unwanted aggressive physical contact against another person
- hiding or destroying a person’s property
- making rude or unpleasant notes or drawings about another person
- name calling or other put downs
- racially offensive insults
- deliberate and hurtful exclusion of others from groups
- spreading rumours about another person or their family
- cyber bullying (using Facebook, other social networking services, email, text messages etc to bully or harass)
Examples of what could constitute sexual harassment are:
- unwanted touching or brushing up against another person
- calling another person rude names or making sexually suggestive comments or gestures
- commenting on the size or shape of another’s body
- sexually oriented comments
- comments about another’s sexual preference or alleged sexual behaviours
- displaying or passing on sexually graphic material
Although much of this policy focuses on bullying and harassment that exists between students, it is acknowledged that bullying and harassment sometimes occurs between staff and students. There is advice later in this policy about processes for reporting examples of bullying and harassment between staff and students.
Preventative approaches to bullying and harassment
The primary preventative approaches CSC takes to minimise bullying and harassment are to:
- create an environment where students are actively involved in a wide range of positive classroom and co-curricular activities which require students to work co-operatively and solve problems together and
- insist that all staff members model respectful behaviours and positive strategies for resolving any conflicts that occur
CSC also strives to minimise bullying and harassment by developing students:
- knowledge about bullying, its effects and how to respond as a victim or bystander to bullying
- positive attitudes e.g. being unprejudiced, empathetic and self accepting
- skills e.g. assertiveness and conflict resolution abilities
Examples of how this preventative education is achieved are:
- reminders to staff, students and parents about the contents of this policy every term; guest speakers and drama performances
- activities in the weekly extended mentor group sessions
- targeted small group programs coordinated by the social workers (e.g. Go Boys, Go; Go Girls, Go and Respect Yourself)
- exploration of themes such as prejudice and empathy in various other parts of the curriculum (e.g. English, Humanities and History)
Other ways that CSC aims to prevent or minimise harassment at CSC include:
- ongoing professional development for staff. Many CSC staff have attended anti-bullying professional development delivered by Solving the Jigsaw and Mind Matters, as well as training in Restorative Justice)
- an annual Student Bullying Survey which helps staff to understand and act upon information such as the areas the students feel most unsafe and the names of specific students who are repeatedly being reported as bullying others
- provision of a social worker and guidance counsellor during CSC hours five days per week
- accreditation as a Mind Matters School and an eSmart School
Recommended responses for students targeted by bullying and harassment
Depending on the circumstances of the bullying or harassment that has occurred, the following strategies can be helpful. However, it is not suggested that you have to follow these strategies in order (e.g. often it might be appropriate to go straight to Strategy 4). Any of these four strategies can be used as a starting point for addressing the problem.
- Try to ignore the problem. Sometimes low-level bullying will stop if it is ignored. However, this approach is not recommended if:
- the target of the bullying is particularly humiliated, upset or hurt; or
- this tactic has been tried for some time, but the bullying has continued.
- Stand up for yourself assertively. Tell the offender firmly but respectfully that their actions are unwanted and you expect them to stop.
- Discuss the problem with your parent, guardian or another trusted adult.
- Approach a teacher or other staff member that you trust. This may be your mentor teacher, another teacher, CSC nurse, chaplain or social worker or guidance counsellor. The staff member will not talk to others about your problem or take any action without your permission (except in the case of student abuse or if they believe you are at serious risk of harm), although you will be given the option to lodge a formal bullying complaint. With your permission the staff member will enlist the support of a leading teacher, social worker, guidance counsellor, chaplain or Assistant Principal to:
- speak with the accused person or people and investigate what has occurred
- take action to try to stop the bullying happening again and to repair any harm that has been done
- continue to monitor the situation to check whether the action taken has worked
CSC responses to reports of bullying and harassment
Although there might be occasions when low-level examples of bullying and harassment can be addressed relatively quickly and informally by staff, those who report bullying must always be given the option of making a formal complaint.
Reports of bullying and harassment must not be ‘fobbed off’ by staff members who receive such complaints. The process for dealing with formal complaints of bullying and harassment are as follows:
- the staff member receiving the complaint must make a written record of the report, or seek the support of the CSC social worker, Chaplain, a leading teacher, Assistant Principal or Principal to do so. The written record needs to contain specific details of what has occurred, where and when it occurred, who was involved and who witnessed what occurred
- the written complaint must be passed on to the social worker, guidance counsellor, chaplain, a leading teacher, Assistant Principal or Principal, who will interview other people involved and witnesses. Such interviews must be conducted fairly and with an open mind
- if bullying or harassment is deemed to have occurred, the investigating staff member must take action to address the problem. The action that the investigating staff member takes will depend on the circumstances and severity of the bullying that has occurred. Follow-up actions may include:
- cautioning those involved
- restorative conferences or mediation
- counselling for those involved
- disciplinary measures including detentions and suspensions
- specific arrangements for following up regularly with the victim and perpetrator must be made and documented
- the parents of the victim and perpetrator/s will be contacted unless there are exceptional circumstances approved by the Assistant Principal.
- the notes and follow-up actions relating to all formal bullying complaints must be forwarded to the Assistant Principal
What if I’m not satisfied with how a formal complaint has been dealt with or I have a complaint involving a student and staff member?
If parents or students are not satisfied with how a formal complaint of bullying or harassment has been dealt with, they are urged to raise this concern with the Principal or the Assistant Principal, who must review the follow-up that has occurred.
If students wish to lodge complaints of bullying by staff, or staff wish to lodge complaints of bullying by students, they should also report their concerns directly to the Principal or Assistant Principal.
If any student, parent or staff member wishes to make a complaint of bullying or harassment by the Principal, or has concerns about the manner in which the Principal has handled a bullying complaint, they are encouraged to contact the DET Regional Office in Bendigo.
T. 03 5440 3111
7-15 McLaren Street
PO Box 442
Bendigo VIC 3550
Advice to Bystanders
Research about bullying tells us that (a) bullying almost always occurs in front of other student bystanders, and (b) the actions of these bystanders can have a very powerful influence on whether the bullying stops or gets worse.
Most students feel uncomfortable about witnessing bullying. Specific ways that bystanders are encouraged to respond when bullying occurs are:
- not join in or offer any form of encouragement to the bullies. Being seen to offer any form of encouragement for the bullying behaviour will make the situation much worse for the target of the bullying
- directly support the victim. For example, assertively tell the bullies to stop or offer comfort to the victim
- report and seek help from a staff member
Specific advice to students and parents about responding to cyber bullying
Cyber bullying is a particularly hurtful form of bullying because it can occur anywhere and at anytime. Offensive forms of electronic communication are able to be viewed and passed on to a wide audience of people. This material can also be later used against those who have produced or sent it (e.g. by the police or by future employees who might use your electronic trail to make judgements about you).
Those people who experience cyber bullying are urged to:
- not respond to the offensive material
- keep a copy of what has been sent
- block the sender from making any further contact with you
- report what has occurred to one or more of the following:
- the administrators of the electronic space where the bullying has occurred. For example report abuse to Facebook
- the police if the messages are particularly threatening or sexually explicit
- a trusted adult; or
- a social worker or guidance counsellor
Advice about bullying and harassment to parents and guardians
CSC values our relationship with the parents and guardians of our students. Specifically, we welcome suggestions about making CSC a safer place for our students, as well as feedback about particular incidents of bullying.
Through this policy, the web links at the end of the policy and various parent information evenings that we run, we aim to provide parents with detailed information about bullying. Parents who wish to discuss specific bullying concerns with CSC are encouraged to:
- follow the advice provided by one of Australia’s foremost experts about bullying, Ken Rigby (Students and Bullying, How Parents and Educators Can Reduce Bullying at School)
- make an appointment to discuss the concern. Specific people who can assist are: CSC social worker, guidance counsellor, student’s mentor teacher, Chaplain or Assistant Principal
- gather the facts about what you believe has taken place. Calmly present this information to CSC and listen to any further information which might be presented during your meeting. Quite often, each of the adults in a meeting such as this will only have part of the picture each
- be firm, but refrain from angry threats or denouncing the College. Often CSC will be unaware of what has occurred. Working together calmly to address the problem is essential
- recognise that CSC may need time to investigate and respond to what has occurred. Negotiate a reasonable timeline for action with CSC
- be prepared to work with CSC to address the problem in a way that is consistent with this policy
- make sure that you develop with the College representative a clear understanding of how and when you will be informed of the follow-up that has occurred and how the situation will be monitored afterwards
- let CSC know if there is any further harassment after action has been taken
Further information for students, parents and teachers
The following websites are highly recommended:
Bullying and harassment
- Bullying – No Way! Plenty of useful information and fun resources for young people and adults can be found on this site www.bullyingnoway.gov.au
- Evelyn Field’s site contains valuable information for parents, teachers and http://www.bullying.com.au/school-bullying/index.php
- Kids Help Line Youth mental health support including information about bullying. Provides information about the Kids’ Help Line free 24 hour telephone and online counselling service. Other useful information can also be accessed through this site, including an informative Bullying Fact Sheet and strategies to help students and parents deal with bullying www.kidshelpline.com.au
- Beyond Blue provides contact details and professional advice for people who feel as though they may be suffering from depression www.beyondblue.org.au
- The Reachout Foundation is an excellent site which provides advice about a range of youth related issues including bullying https://au.reachout.com/
- Cyber Bullying and Cyber Safety – Cybersmart Online is a great site with plenty of fun links for young people, as well as a section for parents and teachers https://www.esafety.gov.au/
- CSC is undergoing the accreditation process for becoming an eSmart School. The eSmart website contains information for schools, parents and students www.esmartschools.org.au
- Kidsmart is an award winning website providing practical advice about internet safety. Specific sections for students, teachers and parents are included on this site www.kidsmart.org.uk