SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to children placed in Children's Homes and Foster Homes managed by the authority, but the principles apply to the placement of all Children Looked After. Therefore, where Children Looked After are placed with parents, relatives or friends or in placements not managed by the authority, the social worker must ensure these or other adequate procedures are applied.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in June 2015 by adding a link to 'DfE, Advice for parents and carers on cyberbullying'. This was reviewed in December 2020.
1. Definition of Bullying
Bullying happens within a relationship involving some form of hurtful abuse of power.
It can be:
- Verbal e.g. name-calling;
- Social e.g. being left out of things/being ignored;
- Material e.g. possessions stolen/property damaged or destroyed;
- Mental e.g. threats or pressure to conform;
- Physical e.g. being assaulted;
- Cyberbullying - e.g. using mobile phones or social networking sites to intimidate or bully others.
2. Home's Strategies
Each foster carer should have strategies for countering bullying, depending on the needs of the child or children living there and these strategies should be communicated to children placed with them. This strategy should be included in the home's Statement of Purpose.
Everyone involved in looking after children share responsibility for countering bullying and for creating a culture that positively encourages acceptable behaviour and reduces or prevents the likelihood of bullying.
As part of this ethos, everyone must understand what bullying means and what measures should be taken within the home and by staff/carers to counter it.
Everyone should also be clear what measures they should take if they suspect bullying or it is reported to them.
In this respect, everyone should be alert to the fact that bullying may constitute Significant Harm and, if so, must be reported under the Knowsley Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.
4. Risk Assessment and Placement Planning
As part of the Placement Planning process, the child's social worker must ensure that a Risk Assessment is conducted to ascertain whether the child may be a victim or perpetrator of bullying.
If there is any risk, the child should have a Behaviour Management Plan outlining the concerns and strategies to be adopted to counter it.
5. Countering Bullying Day-to-day
Carers must be alert at all times to the possibility of bullying.
If they have any concerns, they must discuss them with their manager/link worker and take what actions are necessary to reduce or prevent it.
If the bullying is persistent or serious, the child's social worker should be consulted and it may be necessary to conduct a Placement Plan Review or hold a Strategy Discussion.
If the social worker is unavailable, the residential staff/foster carers may take what immediate actions are necessary to reduce or prevent bullying from occurring and inform their manager and the child's social worker as soon as practicable.
There are different notifications procedures depending on the persistence and seriousness of the bullying:
6.1 Notifications of Minor or Non-persistent Bullying
Where bullying is not persistent or not serious, it should be notified to the manager/social worker at the first opportunity; the manager will decide whether to inform the child's social worker, unless it has previously been agreed this is not necessary.
6.2 Notifications of Persistent or Serious Bullying
Serious, one-off, episodes of bullying are deemed to be Incidents and must be notified to the manager/link worker and the child's social worker as soon as possible but within 24 hours. The child's social worker should decide whether to inform the child's parent(s) and, if so, who should do so.
Where serious bullying persists, the social worker, manager/link worker and staff/carer should come to a decision about whether it is deemed to be an Incident and whether the child's social worker should be notified on each occasion or at specified intervals.
It will also be necessary to decide whether to notify the child's parent(s). These arrangements must be outlined in the child's Behaviour Management Plan.
If the bullying is serious or persists, the child's social worker should consider whether the bullying constitutes Significant Harm. If this is likely, a referral should be considered under the Knowsley Safeguarding Children Procedures.
7. Involving Children
It is important to offer appropriate support and reassurance to children who are bullied by communicating well with them. Counselling should also be offered.
Where children have bullied others, the focus should be on the behaviour rather than the child and full explorations made of reasons for the behaviour. Children should be encouraged to see the bullied child's point of view. A written agreement should be drawn up by the child's social worker to outline the strategies to be employed to challenge and modify the behaviour.
Both bullied and those who bully should be closely monitored within their placement.
There are different recording procedures depending on the persistence and seriousness of the bullying.
The child's Placement Plan should be reviewed with a view to incorporating strategies to reduce or prevent future incidents.
The supervising social worker / team manager is responsible for reviewing the incidence and nature of bullying in the home as part of regular Quality Audits.
8.1 Recording of Minor or Non-persistent Bullying
Minor or non-persistent bullying should be recorded in the Daily Record of the child who is bullied and the alleged bully. The record should include details of staff/carer intervention and outcomes.
8.2 Recording of Persistent or Serious Bullying
Unless otherwise agreed between the social worker, manager and staff/carer, and set out in the child's Behaviour Management Plan, incidents of persistent or serious bullying must always be recorded as Incidents and are subject to a Management Review.