Steps for a Victim, Parent or Guardian to take

The Box and Interview method is my recommended method and the relevant steps to stop bullying behaviour are described under that heading but in the absence of a system such as the one described in the Box and Interview method the following are the steps that a victim of bullying or a victim's parents are advised to take when bullying has been uncovered

REMEMBER, the vast majority of teachers, Principals and Boards of Management want to know if bullying is happening in their schools and they want to help stop it.

Unfortunately, there are exceptions to this rule, and sadly I must add: Do not expect that the Steps will always work. If you are unfortunate to be the one encountering a weak or unhelpful teacher, Principal,  Board of Management,  VEC official (for Vocational schools), and if the HSE and Ombudsman have also been unable to put an end to the bullying, then after you have taken these steps, you may have no further alternative but The Sixth Unwanted but necessary Step (see below). Or, when your position is absolutely hopeless,  you may have to embark on the legal route.  This could be very expensive and you might need support from a Parents Association.

With  the victim's consent, take the five steps, always ensuring that the people you confide in will not break your confidence but will deal with the matter discreetly so that the victim does not suffer even more because of your intervention.  If the steps appear to prove futile, don't give up.  Keep going until you reach the top and insist on your right or the right of your child to protection.

If as a result of the bullying, you or your child must miss school, be sure to inform the Principal and your local Education Welfare officer.  You may find in this officer a useful help in stopping the bullying. Good luck.

Primary School

STEP 1: First, you go to the class teacher, inform of the bullying and ask for help.

Tell the class teacher that the matter is urgent. (Remember that all cases of bullying are urgent)

STEP 2: If you are not happy with the response, you go to the Principal, and again tell of the bullying and repeat your urgent request for help.

STEP 3: If not happy with the Principal's response and action you write to the Chairperson of the Board of Management, again informing of the bullying, of your efforts so far to have it stopped and requesting urgent help.

Be sure to include in that letter the details of your approach to the class teacher and Principal and emphasise that the matter is urgent. (All bullying is an urgent matter).

STEP 4 Contact the Children's Section of your local HSE office. You will find your local office by visiting http://www.hse.ie/eng and following instructions/
 

STEP 5: If the bullying does not stop after these measures are taken you may complain to the Ombudsman for Children (email at oco@oco.ie)  phone  1890 654 654.. Write about the efforts you have made with the school authorities and how they have all failed.  Send a copy of all your correspondence with the school authorities to the Ombudsman for Children. This will save you time.

STEP 6: (See below "The Sixth Unwanted but necessary Step")

Post-primary (Secondary) Schools

STEP 1: First, you go to the class teacher, form teacher or Anti-bullying co-ordinator if there is one, inform of the bullying and ask for help.

Tell this teacher that the matter is urgent. (Remember that all cases of bullying are urgent)

STEP 2: If you are not happy with the response, you go to the Principal, and again tell of the bullying and repeat your urgent request for help.  Send an e-mail of this request to the Principal.

STEP 3: If not happy with the Principal's response and action, you write to the Chairperson of the Board of Management.

 Keep a copy and  send the letter by e-mail.  Be sure to include in that letter the details of your approach to the form teacher and Principal and again mention that the matter is urgent. (All bullying is an urgent matter).

STEP 4: Contact the Children's section of your local HSE office. You will find your local office by visiting http://www.hse.ie/eng and following instructions/

STEP 5: If you are still not happy (i.e. if the bullying has not stopped and you are not satisfied that it will not re-surface), you write to the Ombudsman for Children (email at oco@oco.ie or phone  1890 654 654   

In your letter tell of your complaint and outline the efforts you made to solve the problem and how your efforts have failed.  Send a copy of all your correspondence with the school authorities to the Ombudsman for Children.

This will save you time.

STEP 6: (See below "The 6th Unwanted but necessary Step")

 

Post-primary (Vocational) Schools

There are 33 Vocational Education Committees in Ireland and although these do not come directly under the control of the Department of Education, schools are encouraged to develop their own methods to prevent bullying following the Department's Guidelines.

STEP 1: First, you go to the class teacher, form teacher or Anti-bullying co-ordinator if there is one, inform of the bullying and ask for help.

Tell this teacher that the matter is urgent. (Remember that all cases of bullying are urgent)

STEP 2: If you are not happy with the response, you go to the Principal, and again tell of the bullying and repeat your urgent request for help.

STEP 3: If not happy with the Principal's response and action, you write to the Chairperson of the Board of Management.

STEP 4: Contact the Children's section of your local HSE office. You will find your local office by visiting http://www.hse.ie/eng and following instructions/

STEP 5: If you are still not happy (i.e. if the bullying has not stopped and you are not satisfied that it will not re-surface), you write to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your local Vocational Education Committee.  (There are 33 different CEOs in Ireland. The relevant details of the one you need can be obtained  from IVEA, Mc Cann House, Donnybrook, D4.  email: ivea@indigo.ie)

In your letter tell of your complaint and outline the efforts you made to solve the problem and how these efforts have failed

Ask for  help to solve the problem urgently.

It is very important that you write in that letter also, or in a separate note, that you are giving the CEO permission to send a copy of your letter to the Board of Management. This will save you time.

Afterwards you should for completeness sake contact the Department of Education.

STEP 5a:  You may complain to the Ombudsman for Children (email: oco@oco.ie or phone  1890 654 654). In your letter tell of your complaint and outline the efforts you made to solve the problem and how your efforts have failed.  Send a copy of all your correspondence with the school authorities to the Ombudsman for Children.

The Sixth (unwanted but sometimes necessary) Step

Unfortunately, it will happen from time to time that these steps are taken by parents or victims in both Primary and Post-primary schools and THEY FAIL.

Then, the necessary but unwanted step comes into place:

STEP 6: I recommend that, with your child's permission, you remove your child from the school where she or he is being bullied.

This is a very serious step to take but in my opinion it is one of vital importance.

You have taken the required steps and the system has let you down. Now, you should act in the best interests of your child, if you are the parent, or in your own interests if you are the victim.

There will be many different factors to take into account such as distance from a new school, distance from friends, availability of a school, change of some text books, arranging safe modes of transport etc. as well as trauma. But the welfare of your child or of yourself is of primary importance.

You should try to ensure that the new school has a strong anti-bullying policy.

I think you should advise the teachers concerned, the Principal, the Board of Management, or your local Vocational Education Committee and head office of VEC ivea@indigo.ie (for Vocational schools,) the Department of Education and the Ombudsman for Children oco@oco.ie  that your child (or you yourself) had to change school because of the failure of the system to stop the bullying behaviour.

To help ensure that the same failure will not re-occur in the new school, you should send copies of this advisement to the Minister for Education and Science, Spokespersons for Education and Science in the different Opposition parties and deputies or Senators who have voiced concern about school bullying in the past. (See News section)

I would appreciate it if you would also let me know that you had to take this "Sixth Step".

If you need my moral support in taking the different steps, or help with writing letters etc, free of charge, please contact me.

My email address is:  justinmorahan@gmail.com

Last update: 26 September 2014