School reporting systems
clear processes that enable staff, parents, carers and students to confidentially report any situations of bullying.
legislation and your jurisdiction's policy and guidelines.
Using standardised reporting forms helps to ensure all relevant information is collected, including the people involved, date and time, circumstances, observers, types of unwanted behaviours, severity, etc.
Reluctance to report
Research shows that students can be reluctant to report bullying for a number of reasons. A process that makes reporting safe, private and easy is critical.
Inform staff and students about what to do if they are bullied or see bullying, or if they receive offensive or threatening messages or images online.
Students may be less impacted if they are prepared and know how and where to get help.
Ensure procedures for reporting issues and concerns are communicated to students and others. Talk regularly and reassuringly at school assemblies and presentations about how students can report bullying or other issues related to their safety.
School reporting systems must allow students to make reports with privacy. Options include a nominated contact person to tell, a reporting box in the administration office or somewhere discreet, or the opportunity to make meeting times with teachers.
Confidentiality and prompt responses are key features of a school reporting system.
Sometimes students report bullying to teachers when the opportunity presents itself, for example, after a class finishes when other students are around. In this case, the teacher should express their concern and intention to listen to the student, but ensure they move to an appropriately private place to continue the conversation.
Ensure your school has processes to confidentially store evidence of inappropriate behaviour in the form of screen shots or photos if needed. Be alert to your legal responsibilities regarding evidence if the incident may constitute a criminal offense.
Schools also need to be aware of information privacy and confidentiality obligations in relation to the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information.
Online notification systems
Some schools use online notification systems for students to report bullying. Schools have a number of obligations when using these systems.
A school's duty of care may extend to liability for any detriment or harm to a student caused as a result of a delay between a notification being sent and being received by the school. Any staff dealing with notifications need to be aware that it may be a crime for them to communicate, send, transmit, save, or make copies of certain types of material.
Information privacy and confidentiality obligations in relation to the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information also apply to online reporting systems.