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The Mission of Mater Dei Catholic College emphasises a nurturing role and responsibility which makes essential a comprehensive, whole-school approach to the issues of bullying and harassment. In particular:
“The person of each individual human being, in her or his material and spiritual needs, is at the heart of Christ’s teaching; this is why the promotion of the human person is the goal of the Catholic School.” JP11 [#9]
We are called …
•to care for each individual, affirming their dignity and uniqueness,
•to foster right relationships with God, creation, self and others,
•to provide particular attention to those most in need,
•to build a welcoming, safe and supportive school environment.
“The Catholic School fosters a particular climate where students, teachers, parents, clergy, non-teaching staff and the wider community feel welcomed and valued.” [Barry Dwyer]
Bullying and harassment are harmful behaviours that deprive individuals and groups of their rights, jeopardise physical and emotional safety and undermine the well-being of our school communities and society.
Bullying and harassment are often thought of separately; however both involve a more powerful person or group oppressing a less powerful person or group, often on the grounds of ‘difference’. These differences can be related to culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, ability or disability, religion, body size and physical appearance, age, marital status, parenting status or economic status.
Bullying and harassment:
•may be physical (hitting, kicking, pinching), verbal (name-calling, teasing), psychological (standover tactics, gestures), social (social exclusion, rumours, putdowns) or sexual (physical, verbal or nonverbal sexual conduct)
•may be motivated by jealousy, distrust, fear, misunderstanding or lack of knowledge
•have an element of threat
•can continue over time
•are often hidden from adults
•will be sustained if adults or peers do not take action.
Bullying. No Way!
The Bullying. No Way! Project (http://www.bullyingnoway.com.au) provides a range of valuable resources and models for addressing bullying in Australian schools. The Bullying. No way! project is developed and managed by all participating Australian education authorities: State and Territory government education systems, the National Catholic Education Commission, the National Council of Independent Schools’ Associations and the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training.
The key strategy suggested in this project is the use of evidence-based, whole-school approaches. Three stages are suggested:
1. Build a safe and supportive College community.
•Develop active, trusting relationships among all school community groups.
•Foster an inclusive school culture and ethos that supports all students and values the diversity of the student, staff and community population including culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability and economic status.
•Involve staff, parents and students in collaboratively developing and implementing an active whole school plan to address bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence
•Provide opportunities through the curriculum for the diversity of students (and staff) to develop relevant knowledge and skills in positive communication.
•Maintain pastoral care/student welfare systems that enable all students to feel safe and to feel valued.
•Engage the whole school community in a cycle of continuous improvement.
2. Know when bullying is happening, act to stop it and support those involved.
•Encourage and explicitly teach effective bystander behaviour for staff, students and community members.
•Provide support for students involved in bullying or at risk of becoming involved in bullying.
•Handle potentially serious incidents proactively and create opportunities for the whole school community to respond effectively to carer concerns.
3. Manage incidents that have serious impacts on individuals and /or the College.
•Develop and implement agreed policies, strategies and procedures in handling serious incidents.
•Use restorative justice principles to resolve issues and restore the sense of wellbeing for all involved.
The first stage is an on-going, collaborative process that continues through the life of a school. The second and third stages require the establishment of explicit policies and processes in the College.
The management strategy for bullying incidents depends on the severity of the incident. The CSO document ‘Suspension, Exclusion and Expulsion Procedures: Diocese of Wagga Wagga’ (approved May 30, 2007) provides clear guidelines for incidents that involve violence or threats of serious physical violence.
For non-violent incidents, the ‘No-Blame Bullying’ approach is used. This process is undertaken by Welfare Co-ordinators and/or College Counsellors, each of whom have been trained in the philosophy and procedures of this process.
Persistent bullying (with no observed attempt to replace inappropriate behaviours) will result in application of relevant procedures from the CSO document, ‘Suspension, Exclusion and Expulsion Procedures: Diocese of Wagga Wagga’ .