Frankston Special Developmental School (FSDS) is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment where bullying will not be tolerated.
The purpose of this policy is to:
- explain the definition of bullying so that there is shared understanding amongst all members of the FSDS community
- make clear that no form of bullying at FSDS will be tolerated
- outline the strategies and programs in place at FSDS to build a positive school culture and prevent bullying behaviour
- ask that everyone in our school community be alert to signs and evidence of bullying behaviour, and understands the importance of reporting bullying behaviour to school staff
- ensure that all reported incidents of bullying are appropriately investigated and addressed
- ensure that support is provided to students who may be affected by bullying behaviour (including targets, bystanders and students engaging in bullying behaviour)
- seek parental and peer group support in addressing and preventing bullying behaviour at FSDS
When responding to bullying behaviour, FSDS aims to:
- be proportionate, consistent and responsive
- find a constructive solution for everyone
- stop the bullying from happening again
- restore the relationships between the students involved
FSDS acknowledges that school staff owe a duty of care to students to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of reasonably foreseeable harm, which can include harm that may be caused by bullying behaviour.
This policy addresses how FSDS aims to prevent, address and respond to student bullying behaviour. FSDS recognises that there are many other types of inappropriate student behaviours that do not meet the definition of bullying which are also unacceptable at our school. These other inappropriate behaviours will be managed in accordance with our Student Wellbeing and Engagement and Statement of Values and School Philosophy Policies.
This policy applies to all school activities, including camps and excursions. It also applies to bullying behaviour between students that occurs outside of school hours, where the behaviour impacts on student wellbeing and safety at school.
In 2018 the Education Council of the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the following definition of bullying for use by all Australian schools:
Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.
Bullying can happen in person or online, via various digital platforms and devices and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Bullying behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time (for example, through sharing of digital records)
Bullying of any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.
Bullying has three main features:
- It involves a misuse of power in a relationship
- It is ongoing and repeated, and
- It involves behaviours that can cause harm.
There are four main types of bullying behaviour:
- Physical – examples include hitting, pushing, shoving, or intimidating or otherwise physically hurting another person, damaging or stealing their belongings. It includes threats of violence.
- Verbal/written – examples include name-calling or insulting someone about an attribute, quality or personal characteristic.
- Social (sometimes called relational or emotional bullying) – examples include deliberately excluding someone, spreading rumours, sharing information that will have a harmful effect on the other person and/or damaging a person’s social reputation or social acceptance.
- Cyberbullying – any form of bullying behaviour that occurs online or via a mobile device. It can be verbal or written, and can include threats of violence as well as images, videos and/or audio.
Bullying can be a form of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia or other type of social prejudice when the behaviour is targeted at an individual or group because of a personal characteristic, such as race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
For further information about bullying, refer to: Bully Stoppers (education.vic.gov.au) and the Department’s Bullying Prevention and Response policy on the Policy and Advisory Library.
Other distressing and inappropriate behaviours
Many distressing and inappropriate behaviours may not constitute bullying even though they are unpleasant. Students who are involved in or who witness any distressing and inappropriate behaviours should report their concerns to school staff and our school will follow our Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy and this Bullying Prevention Policy where the behaviour constitutes bullying. School staff must also maintain vigilance to ensure that this behaviour is not occurring.
Mutual conflict involves an argument or disagreement between people with no imbalance of power. In incidents of mutual conflict, generally, both parties are upset and usually both want a resolution to the issue. Unresolved mutual conflict can develop into bullying if one of the parties targets the other repeatedly in retaliation.
Social rejection or dislike is not bullying unless it involves deliberate and repeated attempts to cause distress, exclude or create dislike by others.
Single-episode acts of nastiness or physical aggression are not the same as bullying. However, single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression are not acceptable behaviours at our school and may have serious consequences for students engaging in this behaviour. FSDS will use its Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy along with the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support framework to guide a response to single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression.
Harassment is language or actions that are demeaning, offensive or intimidating to a person. It can take many forms, including sexual harassment and disability harassment.
Discrimination is behaviour that treats someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic (for example, race, religious belief or activity, disability, sex or intersex status, gender identity or sexual orientation).
Discrimination, harassment, and any other inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated at our school and there may be serious consequences for students engaging in this behaviour. This includes any form of racism, religious or disability discrimination, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any other behaviour that targets an individual or group.
Further information about discrimination and harassment, including definitions, is set out in our Inclusion and Diversity Policy. Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated at FSDS and may have serious consequences for students engaging in this behaviour. FSDS will use its Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy to guide a response to students demonstrating harassing behaviour, unless the behaviour also constitutes bullying, in which case the behaviour will be managed in accordance with this Bullying Prevention Policy.
FSDS has a number of programs and strategies in place to build a positive and inclusive school culture and relationships to promote wellbeing. We strive to foster a school culture that prevents bullying behaviour by modelling, encouraging and teaching behaviour that demonstrates acceptance, kindness and respect.
Bullying prevention at FSDS is proactive and is supported by research that indicates that a whole school, multifaceted approach is the most effect way to prevent and address bullying. Below are some of the programs in place to prevent bullying.
- School Wide Positive Behaviour Support (S-WPBS): We promote the explicit teaching of pro-social behaviours through our social competencies learning program which teach behavioural expectations
- Our school rewards system is based on the promotion and recognition of pro-social behaviours
- Our S-WPBS always rules include the rule ‘We Use Kind Words’. The school has developed video self-models to teach this concept to students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities
- Our assembly awards align with school rules and are a chance to celebrate student achievement at a whole-school level
- Our Individual Education Plan for each student focuses on the development of positive social skills and relationships
- The Bully Stoppers program is used in seniors with a small student cohort
- We strive to build strong partnerships between the school, families and the broader community that means all members work together to ensure the safety of students.
- We celebrate the diverse backgrounds of members of our school community and teach multicultural education, including Aboriginal History, to promote mutual respect and social cohesion.
- Students are encouraged to look out for each other and to talk to trusted staff about any bullying they have experienced or witnessed.
For further information about our engagement and wellbeing initiatives, please see our Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy
Reporting concerns to FSDS
Bullying is not tolerated at our school. We ensure bullying behaviour is identified and addressed with appropriate and proportionate consequences. All bullying complaints will be taken seriously and responded to sensitively.
Students who may be experiencing bullying behaviour, or students who have witnessed bullying behaviour, are encouraged to report their concerns to school staff or another trusted adult as soon as possible.
The students at FSDS may not be able to report incidents of bullying. Smaller class sizes and higher ratios of staff to students means that staff can offer higher levels of supervision to avoid any potential bullying behaviour from occurring.
Our ability to effectively reduce and eliminate bullying behaviour is greatly affected by students and/or parents and carers reporting concerning behaviour as soon as possible, so that the responses implemented by FSDS are timely and appropriate in the circumstances.
We encourage students to discuss their concerns with any trusted member of staff.
Parents or carers who develop concerns that their child is involved in or has witnessed bullying behaviour at FSDS should contact the Principal, Assistant Principal and/or the Welfare Officer.
When notified of alleged bullying behaviour, school staff are required to:
- record the details of the allegations in SENTRAL and
- inform the Principal, Assistant Principal and/or Student Wellbeing Team.
School leadership will address all incidents of bullying in a timely and sensitive manner. To appropriately investigate an allegation of bullying, school leadership may:
- speak to the those involved in the allegations, including the target/s, the students allegedly engaging in bullying behaviour/s and any witnesses to the incidents
- speak to the parent/carer(s) of the students involved
- speak to the teachers of the students involved
- take detailed notes of all discussions for future reference
- obtain written statements from all or any of the above.
All communications with School Leadership in the course of investigating an allegation of bullying will be managed sensitively. Investigations will be completed as quickly as possible to allow for the behaviours to be addressed in a timely manner.
The objective of completing a thorough investigation into the circumstances of alleged bullying behaviour is to determine the nature of the conduct and the students involved. A thorough understanding of the alleged bullying will inform staff about how to most effectively implement an appropriate response to that behaviour.
Serious bullying, including serious cyberbullying, is a criminal offence and may be referred to Victoria Police. For more information, see: Brodie’s Law.
Responses to bullying behaviours
When school leadership have sufficient information to understand the circumstances of the alleged bullying and the students involved, a number of strategies may be implemented to address the behaviour and support affected students in consultation with the school’s welfare team, classroom teachers, Assistant Principal and Principal.
There are several factors that will be considered when determining the most appropriate response to the behaviour. When deciding about how to respond to bullying behaviour, FSDS will consider:
- the age, maturity and individual circumstances of the students involved
- the severity and frequency of the bullying, and the impact it has had on the target student
- whether the student/s engaging in bullying behaviour have displayed similar behaviour before
- whether the bullying took place in a group or one-to-one context
- whether the students engaging in bullying behaviour demonstrates insight or remorse for their behaviour
- the alleged motive of the behaviour.
FSDS may implement all, or some of the following responses to bullying behaviours:
- Offer wellbeing support, including a referral to our Welfare Team to:
- the target student or students
- the students engaging in the bullying behaviour
- affected students, including witnesses and/or friends of the target student.
- Facilitate a restorative practice meeting with all or some of the students involved. The objective of restorative practice is to repair relationships that have been damaged by bringing about a sense of remorse and restorative action on the part of the person who has bullied someone and forgiveness by the person who has been bullied.
- Facilitate a mediation between some or all of the students involved to help to encourage students to take responsibility for their behaviour and explore underlying reasons for conflict or grievance. Mediation is only suitable if all students are involved voluntarily and demonstrate a willingness to engage in the mediation process.
- Facilitate a process using the Support Group Method, involving the target student(s), the students engaging in bullying behaviour and a group of students who are likely to be supportive of the target(s).
- Facilitate a Student Support Group meeting and/or Positive Behaviour Support Plan for affected students.
- Prepare a [Safety Plan or Individual Management Plan] restricting contact between target and students engaging in bullying behaviour.
- Provide discussion and mentoring different social and emotional responses of students, including targeted social competencies programs.
- Monitor the behaviour of the students involved for an appropriate time and take follow up action if necessary. We use the Big 5 decision making tool to analyse behavioural data: who, what, when, where and how often
- Implement cohort, year group, or whole school targeted strategies to reinforce positive behaviours, for example [insert details].
- Implement proportionate disciplinary consequences for the students engaging in bullying behaviour, which may include removal of privileges, detention, suspension and/or expulsion consistent with our Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy, the Ministerial Order on Suspensions and Expulsions and any other relevant Department policy.
FSDS understands the importance of monitoring and following up on the progress of students who have been involved in or affected by bullying behaviour. Where appropriate, school staff will also endeavour to provide parents and carers with updates on the management of bullying incidents.
All teaching staff and school leadership are responsible for maintaining up to date records of the investigation of and responses to bullying behaviour.
This policy will be communicated to our school community in the following ways:
- Available publicly on our school’s website
- Included in staff induction processes
- Included in our staff handbook/manual
- Discussed at staff briefings/meetings as required
- Made available in hard copy from school administration upon request
Further information and resources
This policy should be read in conjunction with the following school policies:
- Statement of Values and School Philosophy
- Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy
- Parent Complaints policy
- Duty of Care Policy
- Inclusion and Diversity Policy
Our school also follows Department of Education and Training policy relating to bullying including:
- Bullying Prevention and Response
- Cybersafety and Responsible Use of Digital Technologies
- Equal Opportunity and Human Rights - Students
The following websites and resources provide useful information on prevention and responding to bullying, as well as supporting students who have been the target of bullying behaviours:
- Bully Stoppers
- Report racism or religious discrimination in schools
- Kids Helpline
- ReachOut Australia
- No way!
- Student Wellbeing Hub
- eSafety Commissioner
- Australian Student Wellbeing Framework
This policy will be reviewed every 2 years, or earlier as required following an incident or analysis of new research or school data relating to bullying, to ensure that the policy remains up to date, practical and effective.
Data to inform this review will be collected through:
- discussion and consultation with students and parent/carers
- regular staff surveys
- assessment of SENTRAL data, including the number of reported incidents of bullying throughout the school and the effectiveness of the responses implemented
- Attitudes to School Survey
- Parent Opinion Survey
Proposed amendments to this policy will be discussed with school council.
POLICY Review and approval
Policy last reviewed
Consultation with FSDS welfare team, August 2022
Next scheduled review date