Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

Data Analysis: Assessing, Monitoring, Evaluating

Tell Them From Me School Climate Survey (Data regarding Bullying/Exclusion/Harassment)
– Identify the key areas of concern.
– Identify the focal point for the plan.

2016-2017 Results (Actual):Students with moderate or high levels of anxiety: Students have intense feelings of fear, intense anxiety, or worry about particular events or social situations. At St. Thomas Aquinas CSS,

    • 20% of students in this school had moderate to high levels of Anxiety; the Canada norm for these grades is 18%.
    • 36% of the girls and 17% of the boys in this school had moderate to high levels of Anxiety. The Canada norm for girls is 21% and for boys is 14%.

Bullying, Exclusion, and Harassment: Students are subjected to physical, social, or verbal bullying, or are bullied over the Internet. At St. Thomas Aquinas CSS,

  • 16% of students in this school were victims of moderate to severe Bullying in the previous month; the Canada norm for these grades is 20%.
  • 16% of the girls and 17% of the boys in this school were victims of moderate to severe Bullying in the previous month. The Canada norm for girls is 17% and for boys is 23%.

In an ongoing effort to increase school effectiveness and promote safe, inclusive, and accepting schools, in May 2021 the Halton Catholic District School Board administered an online survey.

According to the School Climate Survey for 2021-2022 students at St. Thomas Aquinas CSS reported:

Quality of Relationships

90% of students (224) indicated having a positive relationship with school staff.

90% of students (224) indicated having a positive relationship with peers.

80% of students (224) indicated that their parents or other adults at home are involved with helping them succeed at school.

93% of students (222) felt their school nurtured a Catholic Community through promoting Catholic virtues and values and Catholic practices and encourage faith-based activities for families.

Sense of Belonging

84% of students (220) indicated that they enjoy school and feel accepted by peers and staff.

25% of students (225) reported feeling quite or extremely connected to adults at their school.

52% of students (224) reported feeling quite or extremely connected to other students at their school.

Respect for Diversity

7% of students (219) indicated that they often learn about the experiences/achievements of different groups at school.

49% of students (189) have reported never feeling unwelcome for any reason.

Catholic Social Teachings

Catholic social teaching provides a solid foundation for our school bullying policy. A basic tenet of Catholic social teaching is the Dignity of the Human Person, asserting that each and every individual is created in the image and likeness of God and, therefore, valuable, and worthy of respect. This core teaching reflects our approach to bullying where justice, mercy and love are integral to everything we do at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary. This teaching also reminds us that we are to be actively engaged in our protection of human life and fully appreciate that bullying is an assault on human life itself. We strive to conscientiously promote and share the substance and value of this Catholic social teaching as a guiding principle in all our educational programs and formative experiences. Focusing on the dignity

of the human person, creates an environment conducive to student’s authentic development, and their realization of a ‘fullness of life’ (cf Jn 10:10).

As members of the school community, we renounce bullying and resolve to confront interpersonal conflicts with clear expressions of love and peace. We trust that through education, guidance and a bullying policy founded on Catholic values, our students will demonstrate empathy towards others, respect themselves and others, to reach their full potential and realize their human dignity.

“To accept bullying, or to avoid stopping it, is to turn a blind eye to Christ himself: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me”

(Matthew 25:45)

Defining Bullying

Bullying – Bullying is defined as a form of (typically) repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm this individual’s (s) body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.

Bullying can take different forms, including, but not limited to:

  • Physical: unwanted sexual touching, hitting, shoving, stealing or damaging property.
  • Verbal: name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist, or homophobic, transphobic, and/or any derogatory or profane comments. Verbal threats apply when someone knowingly threatens another person with their words, over an email or sending a text. Such threats are intended to cause bodily harm to another individual.
  • Social: excluding others, gossiping, or spreading rumors.
  • Electronic (cyberbullying): spreading rumors or making hurtful comments through the use of e-mail, texting, gaming platforms and various social media platforms.

Bullying of any type:

  • Adversely affects a student’s ability to learn.
  • Adversely affects healthy relationships and the learning environment for students, staff and community members.
  • Adversely affects a school’s ability to educate its’ students.
  • Adversely affects a school’s ability to provide an equitable and including learning environment.
  • Will not be accepted on school property, at school-related activities, on school buses, or in any other circumstances (i.e., online/virtual space, off school property, or outside the regular school day) where engaging in bullying will have a negative impact on the learning environment
Additional information on how to deal with bullying and conflict can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/bullying-we-can-all-help-stop-it

Feeling Safe: Refers to students’ overall feelings of safety as well as several aspects of physical and social/emotional safety related to bullying at school. These reports reflect students’ experiences during the last month of school.

  • 87% of students (215) reported feeling very safe at school, while 90% of students (215) reported feeling safe on their way to and from school.
  • 90% of students (215) reported feeling very safe in their neighborhoods or community

Physical, Social, and Verbal Bullying Victimization reports indicate that,

  • 13% of students (214) reported physical, social, or verbal bullying.
  • 4% of students (213) indicated that physical bullying took place.
  • 24% of students (214) reported feeling like they have been socially excluded/bullied while at school.
  • 14% of students (214) reported verbal bullying.
  • 12% of students (213) indicated that they have experienced electronic or cyber bullying.

Bullying/Harassment Experiences at St. Thomas Aquinas CSS is reporting,

  • 3% of students (212) reported staying away from school so they wouldn’t be bullied or harassed.
  • 21%  (213) reported trying to help another student who was being bullied or harassed.
  • 1% (212) students reported they have bullied another student.
  • Locations of where bullying takes place, reported by St. Thomas Aquinas students are 52% electronically, 43% washrooms, changeroom or locker rooms, 40% stated that bullying occurs on the school bus, 39% reported bulling taking place in the stairwell, 27% occurs in the cafeteria, 21% in the classroom or portable, 18% outside of school property, 13% in the gym, 2% outside on school property and 64% in other locations.
  • 90% of students reported that bullying tends to occur most frequently before or after school.
  • 65% reported bullying taking place during breaks.
  • 18% of students reported bullying taking place during class time.

Reporting and Preventing Bullying/Harassment

  • 66% of students reported that they felt safe reporting bulling/harassment problems to school staff.
  • 68% of students reported that they are aware of bullying precention programs/activities within the school.

Education, Awareness and Outreach

Through the use of classroom instruction, ‘teachable moments’, extracurricular events, social media, the school website and conversations with all stake holders, St. Thomas Aquinas CSS staff will identify and promote an understanding of: the different types of bullying, including cyber-bullying; the myths and realities of bullying behaviour; how bullying is differentiated from conflict, aggression and teasing; power and peer dynamics; how biases, prejudice and hate can lead to bullying; and different manifestations and underlying factors of bullying, such as body image, racism, sexism, homophobia, disability, etc.

St. Thomas Aquinas CSS staff and students will work collectively to create a positive school climate based on our Focus on Faith themes and our Gospel values. This will be accomplished by ensuring members of the community are aware of the factors that contribute to a safe, inclusive, caring and accepting school climate. Through events such as the Bullying Awareness week (in the third week of November), ‘teachable moments’ in class and implementation of Focus on Faith themes in all classes, staff will work to:

  • ensure students are aware of how they can help prevent and address bullying.
  • continue to develop strategies to engage parents in conversations about bullying prevention and how to promote a positive school climate.
  • promote healthy relationships using a variety of strategies in classes and in extracurricular clubs and teams.
  • work with community partners, such as the Halton Public Health Nurse and the Halton Police Services Liaison Officer, and access their resources as supports for creating a safe school community.

Social Support and Awareness of Supports

  • 54% of students reported that they felt they have supportive adults at school whom they can count on to help them.
  • 80% of students reported they have supportive family members or other adults outside of school whom they can count on to help them.
  • 58% reported that they were aware of school supports and programs to help them with their positive mental health and well-being.
  • 56% of students reported having very good or excellent mental health.

Representation Matters graphic supporting outreach and education.

Anti-Bullying Infographic.pdf    (((ßI cannot open this link )))

Policy and Procedures

The HCDSB Policies and Procedures that relate to bullying prevention and intervention:

  • Policy No: II-27 Student Behaviour 

The School Administration at St. Thomas Aquinas CSS will continue to inform and update staff, students and the parent community of policies, procedures and guidelines related to Bullying Prevention, Safe Schools, Equity and Inclusion. This will be done through parent information sessions, staff professional development and staff meetings and grade level assemblies with students to review code of conduct and expected behaviours. In addition, the St. Thomas Aquinas student Code of Conduct is in the student agenda, the STA app and posted on the school website.

Teachers will be supported when there is a need to respond to inappropriate student behaviour in a positive but clear manner, and report to the office any behaviours that may indicate that a case of bullying is taking place. As well, they will be encouraged to review with students on a regular basis, and through ‘teachable moments’, expectations around student behaviour and our call to treat everyone with ‘dignity, equity and respect’.

Prevention

St. Thomas Aquinas CSS in partnership with staff and parents, community, and parish, will continue to promote a safe school, create a positive school climate, and address bulling using a variety of strategies. Our in-school Tier 1 and Tier 2 initiatives assist in creating and maintaining respectful relationships and caring classrooms.

Some of our school clubs and initiatives include:

  • Student Council
  • Social Justice Council – Global Aid, Development and Peace & Parish Aid.
  • Eco- teams (ongoing education/promotion on environmental awareness including Earth Week).
  • PAC Group – Prism Action Committee (support and education around LGBTQ2S+ persons and allies)
  • Raiders Thrive – Mental Health Club (info sharing on mental health resources and supports as well as the delivery of ongoing education/promotional information including Bell Let’s talk day and Mental Health week, Bullying Awareness week, Pink shirt day).
  • Representation Matters (ongoing education/monthly observances such as Black History month, Indigenous Awareness Month, International women’s day).
  • RAM Peer Mentoring Program: our mentoring program, which is a student success initiative specially designed for all grade 9s (mentee) and select grade 11 (mentor) students.  The goal of our RAMs (Raider Action Mentors) program is to increase the success of students transitioning into secondary school as we work with them to improve their sense of belonging in the STA community. This is in line with our Board’s commitment to achieving, believing, and belonging. 
  • Breakfast Program – In partnership with Halton Food For Thought, healthy grab and go breakfast items are available to all STA students each morning.
  • Best Buddies

St. Thomas Aquinas also hosts a variety of other groups/clubs where students can express their creativity, share their gifts and talents, and contribute to the positive school atmosphere.

These include:

  • Raider Weekly – School Newspaper
  • STArt Council
  • Chess Club
  • Rock Band
  • Music Clubs
  • Theatre Aquinas
  • Book Club
  • Girls Who Code
  • Raider’s Social Club
  • French Club
  • Creative Writing Club
  • Running Raiders


“Because all people are equal in God’s sight, every person possesses the same dignity and has a claim to the same human rights. Hence every kind of social, racist, sexist, cultural or religious discrimination against a person is an unacceptable injustice.” YOUCAT 330

Home, School and Parish Collaboration

Catholic church documents stress the importance of the entire educating community of a Catholic school, parents, and parish working collaboratively together. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary works in a collective community with our parents and our four parishes; St. James Parish, St. Andrew Parish, St. Dominic Parish and St. Joseph’s Portuguese Roman Catholic Church. This partnership of home, school and parish plays a role in our bullying plan. Our Catholic faith and family values play a fundamental part in challenging prejudice and promoting justice for all.  Everyone in this partnership supports our school community in maintaining a Christ-centered, safe, and respectful learning environment for all members.

 “When programs and initiatives focus on building respectful and trusting relationships among school staff, families, and community members, they are more effective in creating and sustaining connections that support the faith formation, learning and well being of all students.”

Handbook School, Family Partners

“A Christian, walking about in the world seeks, every moment of the day, to live a life that supports the three pillars of who we are as his disciples; justice, love and peace. If anyone experiences bullying in any place that’s called Catholic, then it means that we do not understand what it means to be His disciple. We hold before ourselves always the example of Christ who daily raised up those he met as children of God deserving always, friendship and respect.” Reverend Cornelius O’Mahony – Vicar of Education, Diocese of Hamilton  
 
 

The Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations

Our school implements bullying prevention strategies to engage students in the reflection of their own behaviour to identify and prevent them from participating in bullying behaviour themselves or as by-standers, and commit to  a shared mission of Christ-centered, safe and healthy schools free from bullying.

Our expectation is that upon graduation, our students demonstrate respect for themselves, for others, and for the responsibilities of citizenship through acceptable behaviour, fulfilling the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations and continues to live the Gospel message.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary support this commitment by ensuring that all student activities adhere to the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations.

“Since the relationship between learning and believing is fundamental in Catholic schools, the decision was made that the Catholic Graduate Expectations must focus not only on knowledge and skills, but also on values and actions.”

Institute for Catholic Education

Intervention and Support Strategies

At St. Thomas Aquinas CSS, all staff will:

  • Use teachable moments within a progressive discipline approach to address inappropriate behaviour and consider mitigating and other factors.
  • Have in place processes and strategies to identify and respond to bullying when it happens.
  • Communicate with the family, strategies used to move forward.
  • Identify strategies for supporting all students involved in bullying. This will be done by school administration in consultation with teachers, support workers, the SW and the CYC and will be unique to each situation.
  • Communicate the progressive discipline approach to the school community and the procedures in place to support the student.
  • Opportunities to connect with the Child and Youth Counsellor or Social Worker at any given time to problem solve strategies.
  • Administrators will have an open-door policy with respect to any reports of bullying.
  • Provide a safe space to for students to discuss any experiences of bullying or witness to bullying.

Monitor and Review

For the 2021-2022 school year, the Safe and Caring Schools team will meet to monitor and review the St. Thomas Aquinas School Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan on:

  • November 22, 2021
  • January 11, 2022
  • March 8, 2022
  • May 19, 2022

Committee Members

Adriano Perusin – STA Admin

Catherine Serafim – STA Admin

David Montoya – STA Admin

Antonia Montanari – STA Admin

Kandy Harkin – School Chaplain

Branko Culina – Student Success

Tony McConville – DH of Student Services

Crystal Da Silva – Child & Youth Counsellor

Marija Sandovski – Social Worker

De Franco, RobBullying Prevention and Intervention Plan