Manly Life Church is committed to the well-being of each person within its community. The well-being of each person encompasses his/her spiritual, emotional, social and physical development and safety, which means each person has a right to feel safe, secure and accepted at our programs.
Bullying behaviour is recognised as being anti-social and unacceptable and as such not only affects the victims of bullies and the perpetrators but also those who witness bullying. Left unchecked, bullying behaviours can have a profound long-term effect on the culture of a ministry.
The policy applies to all members of our Ministry, which includes kids, leaders, parents/caregivers, and members of the church.
Manly Life Church aims to create a safe, supportive and a caring Christian environment free from intimidation, where difference is respected. We will not tolerate any behaviour that contradicts this philosophy.
Definition of Bullying
Bullying is repeated psychological or physical oppression of a less powerful person or group of persons by a more powerful person or group of persons (Rigby, 1996) that creates a risk to mental and/or physical health and safety. Bullying is ongoing in nature.
Bullying can take many forms. It can be physical and psychological, direct, as in name calling and hitting, and indirect, as in exclusion and rumour spreading. It may manifest itself in the form of emotional, social, verbal/ textual and/or physical incidents.
It can include cyber-bullying which is a form of bullying carried out through an internet service such as e-mail, chat-room, discussion board, online social networking or web pages. It also includes bullying through mobile phone technologies such as SMS, voice recording and/or video, webcam and still photography.
Rights and Responsibilities
Members of Manly Life Church have a right to:
- Be safe during Ministry events, free from fear of bullying, harassment and intimidation
- Know that their concerns will be addressed
- Be given appropriate support
Members of any Ministry Team have a responsibility to:
- Refrain from engaging in bullying behaviours
- Report bullying of self and/or others
- Assist with implementing the Manly Life Church anti-bullying plan
- Encourage respect, tolerance and difference.
- Be alert to signs of distress or suspected incidents
- Listen non-judgementally to reports of bullying
- Ensure the immediate safety of the victim
- Immediately report suspected bullying to their Ministry Coordinator
Ministry Coordinators must:
- Provide access to the Anti-Bullying Policy to all members of their team
- Provide and follow procedures and protocols for the management of reported bullying incidents
- Provide restorative support and guidance to victims of bullying
- Provide restorative intervention with and restorative support for those who bully
What Bullying Is Not
Many distressing and unacceptable behaviours are not examples of bullying even though they are unpleasant and require leader intervention and management.
Mutual conflict – in mutual conflict situations, there is an argument or disagreement between persons but not an imbalance of power. Both parties are upset and usually both want a resolution to the problem. However, unresolved mutual conflict sometimes develops into a bullying situation with one person becoming targeted repeatedly for ‘retaliation’ in a one-sided way.
Single episode act of nastiness or meanness, or random acts of aggression or intimidation – single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression are not the same as bullying. If a person is verbally or physically abused on one occasion they are not being bullied.
As the church has a duty of care to provide all children/persons with a safe and supportive environment, single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression will not be ignored or condoned.
Responding to Reported Bullying
Different responses may be appropriate depending on the nature and level of seriousness of bullying.
The Bullying Test
The bullying test will be used initially to determine if the incident is in fact bullying.
The investigator asks: Does the incident involve an imbalance of power, words or actions which are unprovoked and intended to hurt, harm or frighten and has it occurred on more than one occasion? If the answer is yes, then it is bullying. If it is not a bullying incident it could be:
- Conflict – may require conflict mediation
- Discipline – may require disciplinary action
- Learning – may require learning support
- Welfare – may require investigation, support or referral.
The Level Test
The following guidelines are used to decide whether the incident is a low level or high level incident
- Victim is not typically teased or harassed and/or
- Bully is not a repeat offender and/or
- Bullying behaviour appears less harmful
- Victim is often harassed and/or
- Bully often engages in such behaviour and/or
- Bullying behaviour is causing distress or harm
Ministry Leaders will ensure:
- Procedures and protocols are followed
- Parents (where bullying involves children) are informed and included in discussions
- A restorative approach is taken
- Methods of intervention will be appropriate for the level of seriousness of the bullying act
Procedures and Protocols
Should an instance of bullying be reported, the Ministry Team Coordinator will implement an Investigation within a timely manner and will ensure procedural fairness and confidentiality. Appropriate and timely support, management and resolution of reported bullying incidents will be offered to all persons involved.
Documentation gathered may include:
- What was allegedly said and done to the complainant
- The date, time and the place where the incident(s) happened
- Names of witnesses to the incident
- The reaction of the complainant
- Notification of the incident to the parents of those young people involved
Follow up actions by the Ministry Team Coordinator will ensure:
- Assessment of the level of seriousness of the bullying act
- The use of the method of shared concern (see below) if it is a first offence for the offender or the use of an appropriate method of intervention (see below) according to the level of bullying and whether there is group involvement
- The application of appropriate consequence if it is a subsequent or serious level offence
- Resolution of the problem in a restorative and fair manner
- Possible referral of the perpetrator(s) and victim(s) for further Pastoral Care
- Monitoring of the situation
- Advice to the complainants that they may take the matter further if they are not satisfied with the way the complaint is handled
- Appropriate feedback to the parents of children involved
Methods of Intervention to Restoration
There are six approaches taken to the intervention of bullying for restoration. Use the first approach in the case of most incidents, but you may choose a different approach depending on the personality type of the people concerned and the type of bullying that has happened.
- The Method of Shared Concern
This approach involves working first with the victim and then with witnesses and finally with the suspected bully, in one-to-one meetings. When progress has been made, a meeting is held with the suspected bully to plan how the problem might be resolved. Subsequently they are joined by the victim to negotiate an agreed solution.
- Strengthening the Victim
This approach aims to teach the victim to act more assertively. It is limited to bullying which is verbal.
This approach requires the persons in conflict to work with a mediator, to find a mutually acceptable way of resolving their problem. It requires the willingness of the parties involved to meet and seek a solution.
- Restorative Practice
This approach requires the offender to reflect upon his or her unacceptable behaviour and experience regret and to act to restore the damaged relationship with both the victim and the community. It relies on the readiness of the victim to accept the offender’s restorative action.
- The Support Group Method
This approach involves the person who have been identified as bullying someone being confronted at a group meeting with evidence of the victim’s distress. The victim is usually not present.
- The Traditional Disciplinary Approach
This method uses the imposition of sanctions or punishments on the offender. It can be used in cases of violence or criminal behaviour or in cases for which counselling approaches are unsuccessful.
Where a Person Repeatedly Bullies Others
A first time incident will be dealt with using the Method of Shared Concern. Subsequent incident(s) will incur successively the following scaled responses:
- Suspension from attending Church Activities
- Expulsion from attending Church Activities
The person should be notified of their position in the process at each incident.