Image 5.1Schools with clear and consistent policy and procedures send a strong message to the whole-school community about the school’s beliefs and actions to support a safe and supportive school environment. Policies provide the school with a framework to guide school action on bullying. School policies should be promoted to the whole-school community, particularly at times of higher risk such as orientation and transition. Positive student behaviour needs to be encouraged and rewarded at the whole-school level.

International research has found that school policy and procedures are important in reducing bullying. The development of a clear and consistent policy provides a basis for action and behaviour change throughout the school community. Active consultation should be sought with all members of the school community, including teaching staff, non-teaching staff, students, parents and the wider community. Establishing clear policy and practice is the first step in managing bullying within a school.

While an international review of 50 school-based bullying prevention studies found one of the program elements associated with a reduction in being bullied was the presence of a formal school anti-bullying policy, the presence of a bullying policy alone will not reduce bullying. Policies need to be developed with the involvement of students, staff and families, promoted to the whole-school community, implemented consistently and monitored to be effective. Approached in this way, proactive policies provide a framework for the prevention, early response and case management of bullying behaviour.