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Teachers notes BULLYING IN SCHOOLS It is now widely accepted that bullying is unacceptable at any level and that everyone has the right to a bully-free life at school and in the outside world.

A safe school environment The school environment itself should discourage bullying activities. Staff supervision in the playground, school buildings and on school transport should create safe areas for play, areas of retreat and eliminate ‘blind spots’ where bullying may occur. The physical design of the school buildings may also need to be considered. Schools need to target key times and locations for bullying and take steps to minimise risks to potential targets. Students may assist in providing this information.

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Professional development

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Establishing an anti-bullying policy

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In order for schools to effectively combat bullying, staff and other adult helpers or supervisors need to understand bullying fully. Professional development by experts should include information about legal responsibilities relating to the care of students at school. Welfare or government agencies may be approached. In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is a statutory authority within the federal government portfolio of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. It provides trainers for teachers and parents, in particular in the area of cyberbullying.

A school needs to assure its students that bullying will not be tolerated, incidents will be thoroughly investigated, perpetrators will be dealt with appropriately and targets will be supported. The biggest hurdle to achieving a bullying-free school is that many incidents go unreported, either because targets and witnesses fear retribution, or because they believe that although an initial investigation may take place, there is no follow-up and the bullying is allowed to continue.

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While an anti-bullying plan is drawn up by the staff, if the students are also involved in the process they will feel ‘ownership’ of the document. Ensure the students know the policy and all procedures, including the consequences. As a result of this knowledge, they will be more likely to report bullying incidents if they believe the procedures will be followed. Students, parents and staff provide valuable information regarding their personal experiences of bullying. This will help the school establish, and evaluate the effectiveness of, the anti-bullying policy.

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When establishing an anti-bullying policy, the school leadership team should actively demonstrate positive anti-bullying behaviours and, if possible, gain support from the wider community, especially parents. Other schools in the local area may also be interested in working together to establish a bullying policy. Recording of bullying incidents should be clear and consistent. Confidentiality, fair and effective investigations, listening strategies and appropriate follow-up should all be included in a bullying policy.

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Sanctions for bullies should be fair, consistent and reasonable. The bully should be provided with opportunities to learn from and change the offending behaviour. Targets should be supported—disruption to normal routines should be kept to a minimum and they should be aware that the bully is being dealt with. Rewards for students taking care of each other and good behaviour should be well established. By engaging in role-play, students should know how to support each other and assert themselves in a bullying situation. By building confidence and resilience, students should be able to better withstand bullying.

Including anti-bullying messages within other learning areas Curriculum areas provide opportunities to raise awareness of bullying. Physical education, Health and Personal development; and Society and Environment lessons can be used to discuss issues and support anti-bullying procedures. Creative activities such as music, drama and art can develop positive social and emotional aspects.

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Bullying in a cyber world

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Bullying in a Cyber World: Ages 6-8  

The blackline masters cover the following: What is bullying?, Forms of bullying, Cyberbullying, Targets of bullying, Effects of bullying, Wh...

Bullying in a Cyber World: Ages 6-8  

The blackline masters cover the following: What is bullying?, Forms of bullying, Cyberbullying, Targets of bullying, Effects of bullying, Wh...