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BULLY PREVENTION POLICY 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary

 

All College staff and students deserve a safe work and study environment. Bullying will not be tolerated. Alleged cases of bullying will first be dealt with by the relevant academic. If this does not resolve the complaint, then any party can seek a ruling from the Executive Team member. If then the issue cannot be resolved, then a meeting with the Director of the Program will be arranged. The next and final step is the Academic Board. A severe matter will be referred to the police.

 

1.         Introduction

This Prevention of Bullying Policy addresses inappropriate and unacceptable behavior on campus. Such behavior is known as bullying.

 

1.1       Bullying is the repeated, unreasonable behavior by an individual or group directed towards an employee or student, or group of employees or students, either physical or psychological in nature that intimidates, offends, degrades, humiliates, undermines, or threatens. Bullying is generally associated with an ongoing systemic pattern of behavior that creates a risk to health and safety.

1.2       Thongsook College seeks to provide a campus culture marked by mutual respect, personal dignity, and support for everyone's skills and abilities, where employees and students may reasonably expect to pursue their work and studies in a safe and civil environment free from discrimination, harassment, threatening or violent conduct, or offences against individuals or property. Inappropriate behavior and lack of respect for others will not be tolerated by the College.

The effects of bullying behavior are not confined to the target(s). Overall, bullying reduces organizational cohesion and productivity. Bullying has a negative effect on both the recipient and bystanders who witness, overhear, or are indirectly exposed to bullying behavior. The College therefore recognizes the right and responsibility of individuals to raise a complaint if they are exposed to bullying behavior whether directly or indirectly.

It shall be noted, that Thongsook College must and will be proactive in preventing bullying. Where possible, staff who observes bullying or bullying-like behavior will inform themselves of the matter and take steps to discourage and correct such behavior. If appropriate, this will be reported to the Executive Team.

Thongsook College employees and students found to have committed or condoned such behavior on campus may be subject to disciplinary action.

1.3       This Bullying Prevention Policy extends to activities and situations related to the College and College business that may not be conducted on the College premises and sites and includes the College’s employee and student accommodation and all College sporting and recreational clubs and facilities, to the extent that the location/personnel are under the control and administration of the College. Examples include field trips, conferences, student camps, inter-College events and functions.

Where a matter arises between a College employee or student and a person not employed by the College but undertaking official duties for the College (e.g. an external supervisor), the matter will be dealt with according to this policy. When allegations are raised against a person who is not an employee of the College, and not undertaking official duties for the College but for another employer, the College will liaise with that person's employer to ensure that the matter is dealt with promptly using the most appropriate procedures.

 

2.         Identification of Bullying

Bullying is predicated on a pattern of behavior that a reasonable person in the circumstances would view as victimizing, humiliating, undermining or threatening. In order to maintain objectivity for investigation and litigation purposes, the “reasonable person” legal test applies.

 

2.1       Bullying behavior is that which causes individuals to be harmed, intimidated, threatened, victimized, undermined, offended, degraded, or humiliated, whether alone or in front of other employees, students, or visitors to the College.

Bullying occurs when: a person, or a group of people, repeatedly behave(s) unreasonably towards a student or a group of students at school AND their behavior creates a risk to health and safety. This includes psychological safety.

2.2       An individual or a group may instigate bullying behavior.

2.3       Bullying can be carried out indirectly, for example via letters, emails, or on social media.

2.4       Bullying may include "upward bullying," where bullying behavior is directed towards administrator/lecturer or a person in authority.

2.5       Bullying is not limited to, but may include repeated and unreasonable behavior such as: Behavior or language that frightens, humiliates, belittles, or degrades including criticism that is delivered insensitively/ inappropriately/ unnecessarily; Abusive, insulting, or offensive language; Aggressive or intimidating conduct; Threats, physical assaults, or physical violence; Interfering with a person's personal effects or study equipment; and/or Cyber bullying.

2.6       Abusive group behavior that is prolonged or systematic in nature (mobbing) may include unreasonable behavior such as: Inappropriate or hostile initiation practices; Teasing or regularly making someone the target of pranks or practical jokes; Harassment including on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, or disability; Unnecessary or degrading references to an individual's gender/sexual diversity.

2.7       Covert or more subtle bullying behavior that undermines, disempowers, or treats others less favorably is also bullying and may include: Setting timelines that are difficult to achieve or constantly changing deadlines; Unreasonable classroom expectations, including overloading a person with study or homework; Ignoring or isolating a person; Exclusion from school-related events; Deliberately denying access to information, consultation, or resources; Displaying offensive material; Pressuring a person to behave in an inappropriate manner; and/or Spreading malicious rumors.

2.8       Bullying does not include fair, open, and honest debate or discussion with the intent of eliciting conclusions, feedback, or other form of academic resolution or academic discussion.

Reasonable academic discussion may include for example: A criticism of a student’s ideas, reasoning, or conclusions; a direct statement that a student’s ideas, reasoning, or conclusions are incorrect. All reasonable academic discussions and activity shall be carried out in a civil manner.

 

3.         Bullying May be a Criminal Offence

Bullying involving a physically violent and/or coercive component, such as physical assault or threats of violence, including stalking and cyber-stalking, may constitute a criminal offence. Any person subjected to such incidents should seek advice and support concerning reporting the matter to the police.

 

Any staff member who observes criminal behavior will first attempt to stop this behavior, and second, report this to the police and to the College as quickly as is possible.

 

The report of a matter to the police or other external body does not remove the responsibility of the College from taking appropriate action; however, the police have the dominant influence at this time.

 

4.         Disclosure

Employees or students who have been the target of bullying behavior or who have otherwise witnessed bullying behavior are strongly encouraged to disclose bullying.

 

4.1       Employees and students should bring bullying behaviors to the attention of the relevant academic or administrator.

4.2       Employees and students are obliged to disclose information relating to bullying allegations or investigations where there has been or is an imminent physical threat of danger to a person or when otherwise required to do so by law.

 

5.         Employee and Student Rights and Responsibilities

All employees and students have a right to participate in an environment free from bullying behavior.

Under applicable legislation students, employers, and employees must take reasonable care to minimize risk to themselves and others.

 

All employees and students have a responsibility to not participate, instigate, ignore, or condone bullying behavior in any manner. All employees and students have a responsibility to uphold the College's policy on the prevention and resolution of bullying and to comply with the relevant legislation.

 

6.         Informal Management of Bullying (Mediation)

The College believes that most complaints can be resolved by a process of mediation within the College community. The College encourages individuals to first seek advice and support within the College.

 

6.1       If possible, the person subjected to or otherwise exposed to bullying should take action and state an objection directly to the people or person exhibiting bullying behavior.

Taking action can be as simple as speaking up and making it clear to the respondent that you find such behavior unacceptable, seeking appropriate support and advice, and promoting mutual respect.

6.2.      If it is not appropriate for the witness (or person subjected to or otherwise exposed to bullying) to raise the matter directly with the people or person exhibiting bullying behavior, then the witness (or person subjected to, or otherwise exposed to bullying) can seek appropriate advice and support from College staff.

6.3       Personnel that represent a first point of contact for a bullying disclosure, usually an academic staff member or a member of the Executive Team, should listen to the person subjected to or otherwise exposed to bullying with respect and empathy and provide informed information and support.

The person(s) accused of bullying behavior shall also be listened to in a fair and impartial manner and given every opportunity to present their side of the matter.

6.4       The goal at this stage is to resolve the matter fairly and impartially, to prevent re-occurrence of the bullying behavior, and to protect the interests of all parties, including the student’s academic objectives.

6.5       The provision of support can include: Assisting the person subjected to or otherwise exposed to bullying in clarifying whether the offending behavior constitutes bullying; Educating the student on their rights as well as the rights of the respondent; Discussing ways in which the problem might be resolved by the person subjected to or otherwise exposed to bullying with or without intervention by a third party; Identifying sources of referral and support where appropriate, including medical, police, counselling and other relevant support services; Assisting the complainant in clarifying their options for resolving the problem; and Discussing the options of mediation and formal investigation of complaints.

The support person is advised to observe the matter after a reasonable period of time to determine whether the matter remains resolved.

6.6       If, after seeking advice, the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of the person subjected to or otherwise exposed to bullying after the provision of information and support, no further action will be taken.

 

7.         Formal Complaint

 

7.1.   Formal Complaint — Single Executive Team Member

If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the parties involved then a formal complaint can be made.

7.1.1   Procedure – The person subjected to or otherwise exposed to bullying may formally lodge a written complaint. To the best of his or her ability, this complaint will include all relevant detail. This will include the names of all concerned, dates of bullying behavior, specific examples of bullying behavior, and outcomes of any previous attempts at resolving this issue.

This written complaint will be lodged with the Executive Team. As soon as possible, an Executive Team member will hold a formal inquiry. If the Executive Team member believes the complaint can be resolved, he or she will notify all parties of this decision and take steps to enact a resolution.

Resolution can include: Rearranging student or staff schedules; Reassigning students or staff to different classes; Self-management classes can be recommended; Discussing ways in which the problem might be resolved by the respondent, with or without intervention by a third party; Assisting the respondent in clarifying their options for resolving the problem; Informing the respondent of their rights as well as the rights of the complainant; Assisting the respondent/s in clarifying how the offending behavior constitutes bullying; Identifying sources of referral and support where appropriate, including medical, police, counselling, and other relevant support services; Discussing the option of mediation and formal investigation of complaints.

If the complainant or the alleged bullying perpetrator disagrees with any decision made, then he or she can formally request that a full meeting of the Executive Team should occur. This request will be made in writing and describe the reason(s) for lodging the complaint and the appeal.

7.2.      Formal Complaint — Full Executive Team

7.2.1   As soon as is practical, a full meeting of the Executive Team will be held to resolve the complaint. Resolutions can include those described in 7.1.1 but also a recommendation of expulsion or study suspension.

7.2.2   The Executive Team can request witnesses, witness statements, schedule hearings, examine relevant records, and generally take whatever legal steps it regards as necessary to fully inform itself of all relevant material.

7.2.3   The Executive Team can recommend any resolution as outlined above and, in addition, recommend academic suspension, academic expulsion, or referring the matter to the police. If expulsion takes place, the College will NOT be liable for reimbursement of tuition fees.

7.2.4   If any party is not satisfied with the Executive Team decision, then the matter will be referred to the BA TESOL Academic Board. All relevant material will be made available to the Academic Board.  The resolution and decisions of the BA TESOL Academic Board is the final arbitrator on this matter and are final and no appeal within the College is available after this step.

 

8.         Procedural Fairness

 

To ensure a just and fair procedure, the following guidelines will be followed when dealing with any complaint: Ensuring that the respondent is aware of the nature and the grounds of the complaint made about them or their actions including telling them, when appropriate, the name of the person making the complaint; Providing sufficient opportunity for the complainant or respondent to present their case; Allowing an associate (friend or personal witness) to attend any hearing (this must be tempered with the right to privacy); Discussing the complaint through separate interviews or meetings with all parties to the complaint; Giving reasonable notice to all parties of any interviews or meetings regarding the complaint they are required to attend; Not taking into account matters that are not relevant; Not allowing the complainant to determine the outcome; Ensuring that the respondent is aware of the nature and the grounds of the complaint made about them or their actions; Providing sufficient opportunity for the witness, complainant, or respondent to present their case; Discussing the complaint through separate interviews or meetings with all parties to the complaint; Giving reasonable notice to all parties of any interviews or meetings regarding the complaint they are required to attend; As far as possible, restricting information about the complaint to those who are directly involved; Being fair and not taking matters that are not relevant into account; Ensuring awareness of avenues of support or advice and appeal; Ensuring that all parties are informed of progress with the complaint; Ensuring that the matter is dealt with in a timely manner; That correct and impartial records are kept of any complaint; Ensuring the records will be kept of any formal or informal decisions and relevant background;and ensuring the confidentiality of all parties will be maintained.

 

9.         Definitions

 

"Bullying" workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behavior directed towards an employee or student, or group of employees or students that creates a risk to health and safety. In order to maintain objectivity for investigation and litigation purposes, the 'reasonable person' legal test applies - Workplace bullying is predicated on a pattern of behavior that a reasonable person in the circumstances would view as victimizing, humiliating, undermining or threatening.

 

"Campus" includes all locations under the control and administration of Thongsook College. This extends to all of the College's sites and includes the College's employee and student accommodation and all College sporting and recreational clubs and facilities to the extent that the location/personnel are under the control and administration of the College.

 

"Complainant" means the person raising an issue, providing a notification or making a complaint about a matter that they wish the College to consider and for which specific outcome/s or resolution/s are explicitly or implicitly expected.

 

"Cyber stalking" is using the internet, email, or other electronic and/or social media communication systems to intentionally monitor, make threats, harass or frighten another person.

 

"Duty of Care" requires all employees and students, and the College as a whole, to take reasonable care in view of reasonably foreseeable circumstances. Safety of students, employees and visitors on campus is the first priority in any situation.

 

"Duty of Confidentiality" requires employees (and support people or witnesses) to maintain confidentiality with respect to personal information, but also requires them to disclose information when meeting procedural fairness or when serious concerns arise regarding the safety of an individual or individuals.

 

"Employee" is a person employed by the College who has an ongoing, fixed term contract or casual contract, adjunct, or honorary relationship with the College.

 

”Executive Team" means the managers of the College’s International program.

 

"Hazard" means circumstances with a potential for injury or harm to health.

 

”Head" means the Head of an organization unit, for example Head of School, Dean, Director, Associate Director, or staff member responsible for the performance or management of an employee.

 

"Misconduct" for the purposes of this policy can also mean serious misconduct.

 

"Preliminary Enquiry" means assessing the facts to determine the validity and potential seriousness of an allegation.

 

"Respondent" means a student, employee or person officially affiliated with the College (e.g. An external supervisor) against whom allegations relating to bullying are made.

 

"Risk" is considered in relation to any potential injury or harm. It is an assessment of consequence and likelihood of injury or harm occurring whilst accounting for the degree of exposure to the hazard.

 

"Risk Management" is assessment of potential risks derived from identified hazards.

 

"Stalking" is the repeated following and harassing of another person composed of a series of actions that, taken individually, might constitute legal behavior. For example, sending flowers, writing love notes, and waiting for someone outside their place of work or study are actions that, when coupled with an intent to instill fear or injure, or are unwelcome, may constitute stalking.

 

"Student" means any person who is enrolled in a course through the College.

 

“Supervisor/Manager" means the person who is responsible for day-to-day management or supervision of the employee or student.

 

"College" means Thongsook College.

 

"College Community" refers to all people who frequent the College campus.

 

"Vexatious Complaint" is a complaint that has been instituted with no reasonable grounds for asserting that the alleged conduct occurred.