Bullying is treated very seriously at Head Start as it involves the persistent physical or verbal abuse of another child or children. It is characterised by intent to hurt, often planned, and accompanied by an awareness of the impact of the bullying behaviour.

A child who is bullying has reached a stage of cognitive development where he or she is able to plan to carry out a premeditated intent to cause distress in another.

If a child bullies another child/children, the children who have been bullied are shown that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon.

• Intervention will take place to stop the child who is bullying from harming the other child/children.

• Explanations will be given to the child doing the bullying why her/his behaviour is not acceptable.

• Reassurance will be given to the child/children who have been bullied.

• Help will be given to the child who has done the bullying to recognise the impact of their actions.

• Children who bully will receive positive feedback for considerate behaviour and are given opportunities to practise and reflect on considerate behaviour.

• Children who bully will not be labelled as ‘bullies’.

• It is recognised that children who bully may be experiencing bullying themselves, or be subject to abuse or other circumstance causing them to express their anger in negative ways towards others.

• It is recognised that children who bully are often unable to empathise with others and for this reason there is no insistence that they say sorry unless it is clear that they feel genuine remorse for what they have done. Empty apologies are just as hurtful to the bullied child as the original behaviour.

• Discussions will take place with the parents of the child who did the bullying and a plan for handling the child's behaviour will be worked out with them.

• The parents of the child who has been bullied will be told about the situation, explaining tha the child who did the bullying is being helped to adopt more acceptable ways of behaving.

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