Anti-Bullying Policy at Our Savior Lutheran School
Is An Anti-Bullying Policy Necessary?
You would think that a Christian school would not need to take a stance regarding a behavior that is an obvious refusal to obey God’s clear command about how we should treat each other. Unfortunately, we live in a sinful world and in a society that is filled with rebellion against the Word of God. Children come to our school having heard and seen poor examples of “acceptable” societal behaviors from the world in which they live. They must come to Our Savior and learn what Christ commands us all to do to glorify Him and build up the body of Christ.
The other practical side of instituting an anti-bullying policy is awareness. If we are all aware of the way we should and should not behave, we will all be more sensitive to seeing and responding to unacceptable treatment of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus Christ, Our Perfect Role Model
In many past student conferences the question is asked, “When did Jesus tease anyone?” or “When did Jesus hit anyone?” or “When did Jesus cause anyone to cry or feel embarrassed?” The answer to all of these questions is, never! If Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and our perfect example of how we should live and treat each other, why would we ever think that bullying in its many forms can be tolerated.
How is Bullying Defined
Bullying occurs when a person or group is intimidated, frightened, excluded, hurt, or suffers a lack of self-esteem as a result of a pattern of behaviors directed at them by others. The following is a listing of behaviors that may fall within the boundaries of what constitutes bullying:
* Physical aggression – including hitting, punching, shoving, biting, hair pulling, scratching, spitting, rude gestures, inappropriate touching, or kicking
* Teasing or verbal abuse – including putdowns, insults, name calling, or racial/sexual remarks
* Unjustified exclusion from activities or friendship groups
* Gossiping or slandering
* The setting up of humiliating experiences
* Damaging a person’s property/possessions or taking them without permission
* Threatening gestures, actions, or words
Possible Warning Signs That Bullying Has Taken Place
We would expect that children would share with their parents, teachers, or principal that he or she has experienced or is experiencing intimidation repeatedly by another individual or group. Many students try to handle these situations on their own and many do not want to share embarrassing events. If this is the case, the following behaviors may begin to occur and would be indicators of some form of intervention:
* Sudden lack of interest in school or home activities
* An uncharacteristic drop in grades
* Withdraws from social activities or becomes more of a “loner”
* Injuries inconsistent with the explanation
* Often ill, unable to sleep, or sleeps too much
* Change in overall character
* Speaks out about peers in derogatory or demeaning terms
* Stops talking about daily activities
What to do? Responsibilities of students, parents, and school personnel
* Students being bullied should report it to staff, parents, or church personnel.
* Students that are aware of or have observed bullying activity should report it to any staff member, parents, or church personnel.
* Students should be willing to resolve bullying situations by: a willingness to share what Christians do and do not do, grant forgiveness if it is asked for, and make every effort to not repeat negative behavior.
* Sign and agree to abide by the “Christian Behavior Pledge.”
* Parents are encouraged to take what their children say seriously and report the bullying concerns to the school. (It has been said many times, “We cannot resolve or intervene in a situation if we are not aware that it has been occurring.”)
* Parents need to accept that the whole story may be quite complex and to trust the school to resolve bullying matters in the fairest manner possible. There are always two sides of any story. Sometimes they conflict dramatically and sometimes they support a very clear description of the event.
* Parents need to sign and agree to support the “Christian Behavior Pledge.”
* All staff and church personnel should take bullying reports seriously.
* Staff members shall maintain a written record of all bullying reports whether they are observed by the teacher or reported by a student or parent. This written record will provide an accurate chain of events for possible action.
* All staff should establish whether a reported incident is isolated or an ongoing pattern of behavior. In either case, any inappropriate words or behavior must be addressed.
* The principal must be made aware of any and all reports of bullying behavior.
* By virtue of their calling as Christian teachers and professionals they have already pledged themselves
to the protection, care, and well-being of their students.
Scriptural References Regarding Proper Christian Behavior
* Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
* Romans 12:18 “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
* All of James 3 (Please take time to read it)
* John 15:12 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
* Colossians 3:13 “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
* 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “ Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
* John 13;34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Corrective, Administrative Procedures
The procedures for addressing and correcting bullying behaviors are in harmony with the existing “Discipline Policy” of Our Savior Lutheran School. There are some more detailed steps that would be specific to bullying problems. However, the basic disciplinary procedure is the same as with all other behavioral issues.
1st Reported Incident
* Interview the student who believes they have been bullied.
* Interview students that may have witnessed the bullying incident.
* Investigate, talk to the accused student(s) and develop a strategy to change behavior(s). This would always be prefaced with “What would Jesus do and want us to do?”
* If the occasion warrants, the principal, the affected student and the accused student would meet and attempt to resolve the conflict.
* Request a written apology to the victim. This would be copied and kept on file. The original would be given to the bullied student.
* The principal must document the conference.
* If deemed necessary, detention from recess or after school may be applied.
2nd Reported Incident
* Interview all students that may be involved.
* Contact the parents of the student that has not learned his responsibilities as a Christian citizen.
* Issue a detention or suspension depending on the severity of the incident.
3rd Reported Incident
* Interviews to verify the incident.
* Student, parent(s), principal, and teacher(s) have a conference.
* Possible expulsion.
In keeping with the discipline policy found in our Parent Handbook, there may be times where this disciplinary procedure, due to the infraction, may not be followed step-by-step by the administration. An extreme breach of behavior may result in immediate suspension or expulsion, for example, fighting or punching with the intent to do severe bodily harm.
The school will discipline or take appropriate action against anyone who retaliates against any person who makes a good faith report of alleged bullying or against any person who testifies, assists, or participates in an investigation related to reported bullying incidents. Retaliation includes but is not limited to, any form of intimidation, harassment, or intentional disparate treatment.
Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. When these activities occur among students of Our Savior Lutheran School outside of school property or school functions, it will be the responsibility of the parent(s) to investigate and determine the proper course of action. The administrative staff of OSL will be available to provide counsel to the parents, however, it will ultimately be up to the parents to make the decisions and take appropriate action.
We all need to follow the commands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our world is a sin-filled environment, yet we must be His ambassadors and disciples. At Our Savior Lutheran School, we will make every effort to follow Him in word, thought, and deed. We must also model and communicate this to our students. We ask everyone to assist us with their prayers and support to make His school a place where Christ’s name is proclaimed and glorified.