Teachers in State schools are now obliged to report cases of bullying to a staff member, who will be responsible for implementing a new anti-bullying policy.

The policy, entitled Addressing Bullying Behaviour in Schools, seeks to adopt a “zero tolerance” and proactive attitude towards bullying by strengthening the value of respect.

Educators will have to report suspected cases of bullying to a designated member of the school staff, who will investigate whether the incident was a matter of bullying or bad behaviour, explained Sandra Cortis – the service manager within the Student Services Department.


– the number of bullying cases reported last year

If the designated staff member – who would ideally be a member of the school’s senior management team – concluded it was a case of bullying, the school guidance teachers or counsellors would be brought in.

They would speak to both the victim and the bully, and the parents would be informed by means of a standard form.

If the case was more serious, it would be referred to the Anti-Bullying Services, a specialised unit within the Student Services Department.

Schools would also take precautionary measures through educational campaigns aimed at teaching respect.

Speaking during a news conference, Ms Cortis said the policy followed from the one published in 1999. But, since then, there was a need to revise the concepts to bring them in line with modern realities.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of social cases. Not only do we have more cases, but there is an increase in their complexity,” she said, adding that last year, the Anti-Bullying Services received 254 bullying reports.

The policy clearly defines the difference between bullying and bad behaviour. Bullying is described as behaviour repeated over time by an individual or a group with the intention to harm someone who has difficulty defending themselves.

Bullying can be direct – such as physical or verbal – or indirect, as in spreading hurtful rumours.

The policy also refers to cyber bullying and says bullying can take place for various reasons, including racial, religious and sexual differences. For the first time the policy makes reference to gender identity.

Ms Cortis said the policy would be reviewed in August to ensure measuring its effectiveness. Each school will adapt the policy to the specific needs of its students.

She added that the policy would ensure that more bullying cases would be tackled effectively and give a clearer indication of the incidence of bullying in schools.

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said the policy would apply in all State schools. Meetings were being held with Church and private schools that were interested in adopting it.

“We must teach students that, just as they have rights, they have duties and these include the duty to respect one another. To build a culture of respect in schools, it must be supported by families and the community,” he said.

Bullying cases referred in 2013

  Primary Boys’ Secondary Girls’ Secondary
State - Malta 83 74 36
State - Gozo 11 4 4
Church - Malta 14 11 7
Church - Gozo 4 0 1
Private - Malta 2 3 0

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