Involving other agencies and media
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When severe bullying happens, schools may need to consult with agencies such as NZSTA, Oranga Tamariki, New Zealand Police or NetSafe.
Boards of Trustees may wish to seek legal advice when responding to severe bullying. This advice will depend on the circumstances involved. Boards of Trustees can contact NZSTA(external link) (0800 782 425) for advice on any legal matters.
If schools are unsure about whether a bullying incident requires further investigation by New Zealand Police or Oranga Tamariki, they should seek advice from their school community officer (New Zealand Police), or call the Oranga Tamariki Ed Assist helpline for schools on 0508 332 774 (or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
In an emergency (where there is an immediate risk of further harm) schools should call 111.
All staff should be made aware of the school's processes for severe bullying, and when to contact Oranga Tamariki or New Zealand Police.
Some bullying may reach the level of serious assault or child abuse. Schools should not investigate such incidents themselves and must refer these to New Zealand Polilce and/or Oranga Tamariki for follow-up.
Involving other agencies
- New Zealand Police - Prevention First Strategy(external link)
- Breaking the Cycle - Interagency protocols for child abuse management (see 5-1 to 5-5)(external link). NZSTA memorandum of understanding with Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Vulnerable Children
- David McGhee, Ombudsman, On Complaints Arising out of Bullying at Hutt Valley High School in December 2007(external link)
There are two things to consider when deciding whether to involve Oranga Tamariki. The first is to consider the impact on the child. The second is to consider the ability of the parents and whānau to provide support. Schools should notify Oranga Tamariki if they believe a child or young person may be:
- unsafe or in danger of harm
- suffering from ill-treatment, abuse or neglect.
Signs of bullying to look for in children and young people include:
- regular, unexplained absences or a lack of engagement in school
- poor social skills (for example being withdrawn, bullying, being bullied or relationship difficulties)
- behaviour that is affecting their learning and / or the learning of others
- uncharacteristic changes in their achievement or behaviour.
Signs that families and whānau may need support include:
- parents seem stressed or not coping
- there may be drug or alcohol problems
- there is family violence
- there are mental health issues that are affecting the care of the children
- the whānau is isolated, without any support networks.
If you are unsure whether to involve Oranga Tamariki, call the OrangaTamariki Children Ed Assist line for schools on 0508 332 774 (or email email@example.com)
When a serious bullying incident happens, there may be significant media interest. Schools should be prepared for this and have pre-agreed processes for liaising with media. The following checklist helps schools develop media guidelines.
Media checklist for Boards of Trustees, principals, senior leaders and teachers
- Do we have clear media guidelines in place for our school?
- Have we considered arranging for at least one person to receive media training?
- Have we identified who our media spokesperson would be?
Questions for principals and staff:
- Do all school staff know and understand our school’s media guidelines? Do staff know what to do if approached by the media?
- Have we considered the privacy of those involved?
Questions following an incident
- Has our school community (staff, parents, whānau and students) been briefed?
- Does our school community know who to refer media enquiries to?
- New Zealand School Trustees Association – helpdesk(external link)
Phone: 0800 782 435
- Ministry of Education – Managing emergencies and traumatic incidents(external link) – a guide that contains media-related tools and resources
Further Information and links
- Ministry of Education – guidance on stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions(external link)
- Oranga Tamariki(external link)
- Office of the Ombudsman – Good complaints handling by school boards of trustees(external link)
- David McGee, Ombudsman – On complaints arising out of bullying at Hutt Valley High School in December 2007(external link)
- Human Rights Commission – Enquiries and complaints guide(external link)
- Education Review Office – Reviews of schools and kura(external link)
- Online Safety Advisory Group – Digital technology: Safe and responsible use in schools(external link)
- Surrender and Retention of Property and Searches Guidelines(external link)