Schools work hard to create and maintain safe, supportive, positive and inclusive environments where all students can engage in their learning with confidence and optimism. This is done by using a range of ways to:
- promote respectful relationships and positive behaviour
- prevent and respond to unacceptable behaviour, which includes discrimination, harassment and bullying.
Ensuring that students are safe and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying is a shared responsibility between school staff, parents and carers, students and the community.
To strengthen how schools prevent and respond to bullying, a new Student Behaviour Management Policy (PDF, 250KB) has been developed. This policy replaces the existing Respectful Student Behaviour Policy and will be in place in schools at the beginning of 2023.
The important change between the old policy and the new policy is that now all schools will have the same minimum standards for preventing and responding to bullying. The new policy also has a clear definition of what bullying is, and sets clear expectations for supporting students impacted by bullying.
What the new policy means for your child
These changes mean that the way your child’s school prevents and responds to bullying will meet the same standards as all other Tasmanian government schools. Some schools may incorporate different programs or measures to respond to bullying, but all will have the same foundation.
What is bullying?
Under the new policy, we have adopted the national definition of bullying.
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.
Bullying 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 (cyber bullying), 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.
Ostracising, making up or spreading rumours, social exclusion, rejection, purposeful misleading/lying to, sharing others personal information.
Hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, tripping, ‘ganging-up’, unwanted physical or sexual touching, personal property damage and assault using objects.
Stalking, threats or implied threats, unwanted email or text messaging, threatening gestures, manipulation.
Put downs, name-calling, swearing, nasty notes and negative remarks about race, culture, family circumstances, gender, sexuality, disability, appearance, medical conditions, etc
Sending mean texts, pranking someone’s cell phone, hacking into someone’s gaming or social networking profile, pretending to be someone else to spread hurtful messages online
What isn’t bullying
- Mutual arguments and disagreements (where there is no power imbalance).
- Not liking someone or a single act of social rejection.
- One-off acts of meanness or spite.
- Isolated incidents of aggression, intimidation or violence.
- Ghosting, one off instances of hate speech.
The signs of bullying
There are many signs that might suggest your child is the target of bullying, or involved in bullying behaviour. These include:
- change in personality
- absent friends
- decline in physical health/ more sick days
- sleep issues
- decline in academic achievement.
What to do if you think there is a problem
If you believe that your child is experiencing bullying, or is involved in bullying behaviour:
- encourage them to talk about what is happening
- write down when, where and with whom problems seem to be happening
- make an appointment to see your child’s teacher or the school principal to discuss the matter
- ask about the support available at your child’s school, including support from the school social worker or psychologist
- keep in regular contact with the school about what your child is experiencing until you are comfortable that the problem has been resolved.
What your school will do
- Your child’s school will engage with students about what is happening, why the behaviour is occurring, and develop strategies to prevent the behaviour from occurring in future.
- Your school will work for a positive resolution with all students involved being provided with support.
- A punishment is not always the right answer for dealing with bullying. Instead of stopping bullying, it is likely to make the behaviour become more covert or hidden. For this reason, schools use a range of strategies and approaches to prevent bullying and intervene when it has occurred. This includes whole-school approaches which aim to develop a school culture of respect, early intervention, and processes for responding to and reporting bullying.
- Schools have a responsibility to support students involved in bullying, including cyberbullying, which is affecting a student’s learning and/or wellbeing at school, even when the unacceptable behaviour has occurred off school campus and/or outside of school hours.
Where to find more information
- Talk to your child’s teacher or principal – they can explain the process they follow at your child’s school.
- For cyberbullying information, visit our page on staying safe online.
- For further information, and to report online abuse, visit esafety.gov.au.
- For tips and hints, visit the national anti-bullying website | Bullying No Way!