According to the Curriculum, the Education Act, and the Anti-Discrimination Act, the school has a responsibility to ensure that no child is harassed or discriminated against in school.
The following course of action is part of Friends’ policy for urgent situations: Always Act. When working with Friends, the school is given access to this material, which explains more in detail the course of action and provides tools for dealing with harassment and bullying.
If a member of staff is made aware that a pupil/student in the school feels that they have been bullied or harassed, the staff member has what’s called the obligation to act. The obligation to act applies to all staff members at the school, irrespective of their role, and entails that the school must investigate, deal with and prevent the acts of intimidation at the earliest stage possible.
To begin with, it’s important that you who are working at the school and see or hear about somebody being harassed or intimidated, show that you are aware of what is happening and that you don’t accept it. As an employed member of staff at the school, you also need to take responsibility for ensuring people treat one another in a positive manner. Also, remember to take the matter further to the teacher responsible and to the school’s safe environment team.
The school should quickly find out what has happened. This can be achieved by talking to the people involved – school staff, parents, children and young people. Try to describe the situation as objectively as possible: What happened? When did it happen? Who was involved? Also, analyze the act of intimidation from different perspectives and find out what may have caused the situation to occur. Remember to not just focus on individuals, but also the location and situation, the surrounding structures or limiting norms that may have triggered the acts of intimidation.
The parents of all the pupils/students involved ought to be contacted as well, as soon as the school finds out what has happened. Parents are a resource when working against acts of intimidation and bullying, and therefore collaboration usually changes the situation sooner.
The school also ought to consider reporting the act of intimidation or harassment to another authority. Some situations aren’t the school’s responsibility to investigate and deal with, and these ought to be reported. An example may be the case of an act of intimidation where there is an obligation to act and report the incident, and where there is a suspected crime being committed or where a child or young person is at risk.
Based on what has happened, the school should decide which urgent and long-term measures need to be taken in order to stop and prevent continued acts of intimidation. Also, remember to include the children and young people in the work. It’s also important to be as specific as possible: Which measures work best for the particular incident? Who should be responsible for taking action? Who should ensure that it’s carried through on a practical level? The school, the pupils/students involved and the parents create a plan together for how to work to stop the acts of intimidation and bullying.
The school must document the work that has been done, from when the acts of intimidation were first discovered to how the school has responded and how the current situation looks. Clear documentation is important both in cases where the Swedish Schools Inspectorate becomes involved, but also as a reminder when working with the practical work. It is important to document phone calls, meetings, course of action, pupil social welfare conferences, results and new measures taken when the initial efforts haven’t worked, as well as follow up measures.
It is also important to evaluate together the work that has been done. Have we achieved the results we were looking for? Have the acts of intimidation stopped? How are the pupils who were involved doing now?
The school should also assess if new efforts are needed. Does the school need to work with the families to develop the common sections in the fair and equal treatment plan to do with acts of intimidation and bullying? What knowledge can the school and parents take with them from what has happened, and how can it be applied to create better-functioning measures to stop acts of intimidation? Is there a need for measures to be taken? The school needs to keep working until the acts of intimidation have stopped, and the child feels safe and secure in school.
The law says that schools are to have a plan for both discrimination and acts of intimidation (these can be combined in one document). The plan should be specific, with both preventative measures and measures for emergency situations, all developed specifically for the school – that is, not just a general document that looks the same for all schools. It can be a good idea to develop the plan together with parents and children.
Lika rättigheter i förskolan & Lika rättigheter i skolan (DO, 2013)
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