Kilternan Parish is committed to providing a caring, supportive and friendly environment where
children learn to value and respect each other and are challenged to reach their full potential
through active participation. Kilternan Parish will not tolerate bullying by anyone in any of its

What is bullying?
Bullying can be defined as repeated aggression – whether it is verbal, psychological or physical that is conducted by an individual or group against others. It is behaviour that is intentionally
aggravating and intimidating and occurs mainly among children in social environments such as
schools. It includes behaviours such as physical aggression, cyber bullying, damage to
property, intimidation, isolation/exclusion, name calling, malicious gossip and extortion. Bullying
can also take the form of abuse based on gender identity, sexual preference, race, ethnicity and
religious factors. With developments in modern technology, children can also be the victims of
non-contact bullying, via mobile phones, the internet and other personal devices (See section
on Cyberbullying on page 3).

It is recognised that bullying affects the lives of an increasing number of children and can be the
cause of genuine concerns about a child’s welfare.

While bullying can happen to any child, some may be more vulnerable. These include: children
with disability or special educational needs; those from ethnic minority and migrant groups; from
the Traveller community; lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) children and those
perceived to be LGBT; and children of minority religious faiths.

There can be an increased vulnerability to bullying among children with special educational
needs. This is particularly so among those who do not understand social cues and/or have
difficulty communicating. Some children with complex needs may lack understanding of social
situations and therefore trust everyone implicitly. Such children may be more vulnerable
because they do not have the same social skills or capacity as others to recognise and defend
themselves against bullying behaviour.

Preventative Strategies
Clergy/staff/volunteers should promote a positive anti-bullying ethos in their activities, raise
awareness amongst clergy/staff/volunteers and children that bullying will not be tolerated and that
anyone who witnesses an incident of bullying has a responsibility to report it. By emphasising the
Code of Behaviour, clergy/staff/volunteers should create an environment in which children are
valued as individuals and are encouraged and affirmed.

What can bishops/clergy/staff/volunteers do if a child tells them they are being bullied?

  • Listen calmly and accept what is said.
  • Complete an incident form following the conversation and keep on file as this forms the basis
    of the bullying report. Notes should include nature of incident, date, time, location, names of
    those involved, witnesses, relevant history and child’s response.
  • Reassure them that help is available, action will be taken, the child was right to tell, it is not
    their fault and it could happen to anyone.
  • Negotiate confidentiality – be clear you’ll only tell people who need to know but that you cannot
    guarantee confidentiality or secrecy.
  • Ensure the child’s safety. The bishop/clergy/staff/volunteers should be aware that the safety
    of the child is paramount, and this can be maintained through appropriate supervision. Liaise
    with the parents/guardians in relation to a solution and possible actions.
  • Tell the child that you will keep them informed and how you intend to proceed.
  • Respond to the incident – all actions should be guided by the needs of the child. Decide what
    action to take and by whom.
  • Make a record of facts rather than opinions. Include details from the bullying report, details
    recounted by others involved, any agreements made, an account of action taken and
    suggestions for follow up and monitoring. This should be retained by the panel.
  • Responding to incidents of bullying
    There are a number of approaches which can be used, and the bishop/clergy/staff/volunteers
    should determine which action to take depending on the incident of bullying.
  1. The Code of Behaviour sets out the guidelines for children regarding boundaries and
    appropriate behaviour. Draw everyone’s attention back to the Code of Behaviour and the
    consequences of not abiding by the Code.
  2. The ‘no blame’ approach does not concentrate on who did what to whom but instead,
    focusing on the feelings of the target and what the group involved in the bullying and the
    target can do to make this situation better. The ‘no blame’ approach allows the group
    involved in the bullying behaviour to think about the action that has taken place and the
    effect it has had on the target. It promotes the perpetrator and the rest of the group involved
    in the bullying behaviour with an opportunity to redeem themselves.
  3. Time Out – by providing some space and time between the perpetrator and target and
    allowing both parties involved to think about the incident that has taken place, time apart
    may aid the process of resolving the bullying e.g. removal of the perpetrator away from the
    target to another group.
  4. Denial of privileges – loss of certain privileges by the perpetrator in the group. It is hoped
    that by using this response the perpetrator may realise the impact of their actions on the
    target and the consequences for themselves.
  5. Parental/Guardian involvement – make parents/guardians of all children involved aware of
    the incident of bullying and ask them to intervene in the situation.
  6. Suspension or expulsion of the perpetrator may be used as a last resort in bullying where
    no other interventions have worked.
  7. Disciplinary procedures must be applied in relation to any sanctioning of the perpetrator
    and advice should be sought in relation to the adoption of such procedures, where

    Cyberbullying is defined as “any behaviour performed through electronic or digital media by
    individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to
    inflict harm or discomfort on others”.
    Cyberbullying, similar to more traditional forms of bullying, must meet three main criteria:
  • Intention to cause harm to the victim(s)
  • Repetition of abusive behaviour(s) over time (however in some instances, one behavioural
    act can create an on-going sense of intimidation for the victim (e.g. posting a humiliating
    photo/video which can be viewed by a large audience can have long term effects)).
  • Imbalance of power between victim(s) and bully/bullies (i.e. super technological skills,
  • Cyberbullying differs from more traditional forms of bullying in a number of ways:
  • The audience is larger;
  • There are no time or location barriers;
  • It can happen 24/7
  • The target’s reaction is not often seen, leading to a reduction in feelings of empathy or guilt
    for the perpetrator.
  • What are the signs/symptoms that someone is being cyberbullied?
    Some signs or symptoms that may present when a child is experiencing cyberbullying include:
  • More frequent health problems – headaches, stomach aches, frequent absenteeism, sleep
    problems, depression, or suicidal thoughts;
  • Behavioural and emotional changes – distressed, anxious, frustrated, fearful, angry;
  • School-related changes – inability to concentrate, drop in academic performance,
    reluctance to attend school;
  • Negative emotional expressions after use of social media – poor self-image, sadness,
    hopelessness, loneliness, suspicion of others;
  • Changes in online behaviour – more careful or cautious approaches to communicating
  • Being emotionally upset during or after using the internet or the phone;
  • Being very secretive or protective of their digital life;
  • Wanting to stop using the computer or mobile phone;
  • Being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email;
  • Avoiding discussions about computer or mobile phone activities;
  • Physical symptoms such as self-harm, eating disorders and/or risky behaviours.
  • Actions bishops/clergy/staff/volunteers should consider when a child is the target of
  • Confirm that you are dealing with bullying behaviour.
  • Listen calmly and uncritically to the report the child is making.
  • Remind the child that it is not their fault; it is the person who is doing the bullying that
    has the problem.
  • Tell the child not to respond to the bully as this can exacerbate the issue.
  • Ask the child if they have talked to their parents about the cyberbullying, if they have
    not the bishop/clergy/staff member/volunteer should offer to help the child to talk to their
    parents about the problem.
  • The following advice should be given by the bishop/clergy/staff member/volunteer to
    the parents of the child experiencing the cyberbullying:
    o Keep a copy of all correspondence between the child and the bully.
    o Encourage the child to remove the cyberbully as a ‘friend’ online and block them
    from his/her phone.
    o Report the issue to the website and/or mobile phone company as appropriate.
    o Serious issues may require to be reported to An Garda Síochána –issues
    requiring investigation by An Garda Síochána may include the making of
    inappropriate sexual suggestions, racist remarks or persistent bullying that is
    seriously damaging to the child’s wellbeing. In such situations the
    bishop/clergy/staff member/volunteer should report their concerns to the panel
    who can assist them to inform parents that they should report the cyber bullying
    or sexting to the Gardaí by bringing the child’s phone to the local Garda station
    and making a report.

Adopted by the Select Vestry on 11 June 2024