This resource was developed by NIABF following requests from schools to provide a working document to promote an anti-bullying culture in schools. This is designed to be a live resource, informed by schools and responsive to the needs of pupils who are experiencing bullying behaviour and those demonstrating bullying behaviour.
Understanding bullying and the different forms it can take is the starting point for preventing and responding to bullying behaviour effectively. NIABF recommends that each school actively seeks a full and shared understanding of bullying among all its school community members. The term bullying refers to a range of harmful behaviour, both physical and psychological. NIABF believes that all bullying behaviour usually has the following four features:
Repetitive and persistent
It is intentionally harmful
It involves an imbalance of power, leaving someone feeling helpless to prevent it or put a stop to it
It causes distress. Understanding the features of bullying can help others identify and categorise the behaviours. It is important to open a conversation to determine the nature, frequency, duration and perception of the child being bullied.
When children and young people are involved in incidents of bullying, adults need to intervene. If an alleged bullying incident has occurred, a school should gather facts and consult records for previous incidents and complete a Bullying Concern Form. The school should make an initial assessment and then follow an applicable intervention strategy to best address the significance of the alleged bullying incident. The main aim of the intervention is to respond to the bullying that is taking place, resolve the concern and restore the wellbeing of those involved. Interventions can take the softer form approach of rule reminding, restorative questioning and small group interventions through to more serious individual pupil intervention and investigation by relevant agencies. NIABF recommends that even though bullying behaviours may involve only a handful of individuals, a whole school approach to anti bullying practice is encouraged and to strive towards a culture where every child and young person is safe, and feels safe from bullying.
In addition, NIABF has developed two inserts to be included within the Effective Responses to Bullying Behaviour namely the Disablist Bullying and Looked After Children (LAC) Bullying documents. These documents focus on two sets of particularly vulnerable children. The disablist bullying insert defines what disablist bullying is, the incidence of disablist bullying, the impact of disablist bullying, proactive strategies to prevent the behaviours and effective responses to disablist bullying. The LAC document addresses how to prevent bullying involving looked after children, working in partnership with carers and understanding the language. The online resource will be updated in the coming months.