Resolving a situation
When bullying is reported, staff should always:
- Take it seriously
- Find a quiet place to talk
- Stay calm
- Sensitively ask what has been happening
- Record the allegation
- Discuss together what action should be taken next
- Reassure them that you will help to stop the bullying
- Listen to their needs and support them to overcome it
- Keep them informed of progress until it has been resolved
Investigating allegations of bullying
National charity ‘Bullying UK’ provide the following advice for investigating allegations of bullying:
- Gather all the facts from both sides, including any witnesses
- Remember that you may be dealing with a number of friends who may give similar versions of events that differ to those given by the ‘target’
- Try to interview the young people accused of bullying in such a way that they don't have the opportunity to get together to make up stories
- Explain to the young person(s) accused of bullying what they are supposed to have done and get him/her to write down exactly what they think happened, who was there and what led up to the incident
- If you have established that bullying has taken place, you will need to decide how to proceed and what punishments are suitable
When investigating bullying, it is important that a member of staff is identified with whom the ‘target’ can talk openly. Parents/carers of those alleged to be engaging in bullying behaviour may need to be included in the investigation to question their children about their role.
Working with those who have been on the receiving end of bullying
The self-esteem and confidence of a young person who has been bullied will often drop dramatically. Work should be done to counter this and to reassure them that it happens to a lot of people and they are not alone. Ultimately, the bullying must stop. If possible, restorative practice could be used to allow those who have been bullied to have their harm acknowledged by those who engaged in the bullying behaviour. See the good practice guide for more details.
Working with those who have done the bullying
Working with those who engage in bullying behaviour requires time and skill. Often, the focus needs to be on trying to get those who bully to identify with the ‘target’ and to understand the distress caused (as a basis for a genuine apology). Emphasis also needs to be placed on working through what lies behind the desire to exercise power over others and re-building their approach to relationships. Both the ‘support group approach’ and ‘restorative practice’ are used extensively to resolve bullying (see good practice guide).