The Chestnut Hill School Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
The Chestnut Hill School embraces its mandate to ensure that students may learn and grow in a safe and secure environment. We recognize the importance of trust as an essential foundation of effective teaching. In addition, the positive connections that develop in a safe and secure environment help to promote self-confidence, citizenship, and achievement. Informed by these guiding principles, the Plan outlined in this document has been designed to meet the following specific goals:
- to prevent all instances of bullying and cyber-bullying
- to educate students and families regarding bullying and cyber-bullying
- to encourage students and families to have confidence in the school’s procedures regarding bullying and cyber-bullying
- to implement appropriate disciplinary and educational measures whenever bullying and cyber-bullying may occur and are found to be warranted
- to protect the rights of all parties involved
The Chestnut Hill School takes seriously its responsibility to educate children, to equip them to live in a diverse world, and to protect them from potentially harmful acts of bullying either by classmates or others. Accordingly, we expect high standards of conduct both from our students and from all adults associated with our school community. In striving to provide the most optimal conditions for learning, it is our policy to maintain a safe and secure environment that is free of bullying and any other verbal or physical misconduct.
The Chestnut Hill School Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan that is described in this document has been published in response to the recently enacted Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law. Although our more narrow goal is to outline a comprehensive approach to the ever-growing danger of bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation, we have worked hard to make sure that the policies and procedures outlined in this Plan are consistent with the policies and procedures that are also articulated in our Family Handbook and in our Employee Handbook.
In reaching for the highest possible standards for bully-free learning, we recognize the importance of educating all community members about the Plan. The Head of School is responsible to implement and administer the Plan in full accordance with school policy. Questions and concerns may be referred either to the Head of School or to any member of the Support Team.
Policy on Bullying Prevention
The Chestnut Hill School will not tolerate any form of bullying or cyber-bullying, nor will we tolerate retaliation against any person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying. Our policies are strict for the sole purpose of preventing inappropriate verbal and physical conduct before a student has been subject to bullying as it is defined under the law. For example, although the law defines bullying as “repeated use” of certain expressions, acts, and/or gestures, the School reserves the right to apply disciplinary measures and other corrective action in a case of a single expression, act or gesture, if the School determines that it is of sufficient severity to warrant disciplinary measures or other remedial action or that the repetition of that expression, act, or gesture might reasonably result in bullying as defined under the law.
The following definitions are drawn from the Massachusetts law against bullying.
Education and Prevention
The Chestnut Hill School is committed to providing all students with a learning environment that is free from bullying and cyber-bullying. The Chestnut Hill School is a community that values, promotes and expects respect and kindness. The climate at CHS is one that promotes safety, civil communication, and respect for differences.
Within this framework of respect and in conjunction with the three components of our mission, CHS is committed to the prevention of bullying in all forms and to the education of faculty, staff, families and students. Our healthy school climate initiatives include the following:
- Promoting and modeling the use of respectful language
- Fostering an understanding of and respect for diversity and difference
- Modeling, teaching, and rewarding pro-social, healthy, and respectful behaviors
- Setting clear expectations for student behavior
- Using appropriate and positive responses and reinforcement to behavior
- Teaching students skills including positive communication, anger management, and empathy for others
- Annual staff training on all aspects of the bullying prevention plan
- CHS Family Handbook contains explicit policies and procedures around bullying
- Educating students through The Open Circle Curriculum; this includes empowering students to take action by knowing what to do when they witness other students engaged in acts of bullying and enhancing students’ skills for engaging in healthy relationships and respectful communication
- Regular use of Community Meetings to engage students in dialogues about bullying and to reinforce behavioral expectations
- Commitment to ample adult supervision during all aspects of school life
- Commitment to providing families with education about the plan and about bullying prevention in general
Procedures for Intervention and Reports of Bullying, Cyber-Bullying, or Retaliation
Any student who is the target, or has witnessed an incident, or has relevant information about bullying or cyberbullying prohibited by this policy is strongly encouraged to promptly report the matter orally or in writing to the Head of School or to any other faculty or staff member with whom the student is comfortable speaking. Also, any student who is subject to retaliation in violation of this policy or who knows of another student who has been subject to retaliation is urged to report it as soon as possible. Students who knowingly make false accusations of bullying or retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action.
A parent or guardian of a student who is the target, or who has witnessed, or otherwise has relevant information about bullying or cyberbullying is strongly urged to promptly notify the Head of School or the designated school official. Furthermore, any parent or guardian who has him or herself witnessed bullying or cyberbullying or has relevant information concerning such an incident is strongly urged to come forward to the Head of School or designated school official. A parent or guardian should also report any incident of retaliation in violation of this policy to the Head of School or designated school official.
Any member of the faculty or staff of the Chestnut Hill School who witnesses or otherwise becomes aware of bullying or cyberbullying in violation of this policy or who becomes aware of retaliation against a student who reported information concerning a violation of this policy is required to report it immediately to the Head of School or the designated school official. There are no exceptions to this requirement. A member of the faculty or staff may not make promises of confidentiality to a student or parent/guardian who informs him/her of an allegation of bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation.
Faculty and staff may not make reports under this policy anonymously. The School also urges students and their parents/guardians not to make reports anonymously. Although there are circumstances in which any anonymous report can be better than none at all, it is far more difficult to determine the facts of what occurred if complaints are made anonymously. When considering an anonymous report, students and parents/guardians are encouraged to bear in mind that the School takes seriously its policy against retaliation. In addition, while the School cannot promise strict confidentiality because information must be shared in order to conduct an effective investigation, the School releases information concerning complaints of bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation only on a legitimate need-to-know basis.