Problem Analysis Phase
Problem solving and decision making is part of every institution. The initial step towards solving a problem is needs analysis (Dunbar, 1998). According to Songhori (2008), needs analysis refers to the process of collecting information useful in determining whether a problem exists with the aim of formulating appropriate strategies for solving those problems. Example of a situation that calls for needs analysis is occurrence of bullying in schools. Every academic institution has an obligation to provide a safe learning environment for all students. A safe learning environment is created by keeping all students secure from both internal and external attacks. Bullying behavior undermines safety of students within a school environment. Bullying has both short-term and long-term impacts on students because it weakens their self-confidence and prevents them from pursuing their ambitions and interests (Songhori, 2008). Therefore, there is great need to conduct problem analysis in a school to confirm rumors of bullying incidents in order to determine the most appropriate solution.
According toBoyd and Barwick (2011), data collection from stakeholders is the first approach towards effective needs assessment. In addition, majority of anti-bullying initiatives begin with data collection from students, teachers, and parents. In order to confirm rumors of bullying incidents in schools, it is important to begin by surveying students, teachers, and parents. Bullying is very common in schools with huge populations consisting of students from different ethnic backgrounds. Students can therefore provide relevant data about whether bullying is taking place in the school or not. Although several bullying cases go unreported, a few victims may make a step of reporting such incident to their teachers and parents. This explains why staff surveys are of great significance when trying to confirm rumors of bullying incidents.
When gathering needs-related information, it is important to determine whether a problem really exists. In most cases, claims are presented even when no problem exists in actual sense. In the case of bullying in schools, it is important to determine whether bullying really exists based on information provided by students, teachers, and parents. Boyd and Barwick (2011) define bullying as either intentional or unintentional use of aggression towards another person. Bullying comprises of all acts that are perceived as hostile, dehumanizing, intimidating, or likely to cause physical harm and emotional distress to a group of students. When gathering information from students, teachers and parents, it is important to give everyone sufficient time to present their opinions as this increases chances of obtaining valid reports. In addition, it is important to distinguish between genuine claims and exaggerated needs and give all the allegations the importance they deserve. It is after confirming that bullying exists in a school set-up that one can move to policy creation phase.
Policy Creation Phase
The leaders of every organization facing a problem need to formulate a policy in collaboration with stakeholders as an approach towards coming up with the most appropriate solution. It is very important for everyone being affected by the problem to understand the aims of the policy as a basis for developing strategies for dealing with the problem. A good policy must define indicators of a given behavior, rules that must be followed to prevent occurrence of the behavior, procedure of reporting behavior occurrence, and consequences of behavior.
The main aims of an anti-bullying policy to create a positive school culture that is inclusive of difference, to raise awareness among students and teachers that bullying is prohibited, to communicate reporting procedures, and to ensure easy supervision and monitoring. The scope of this anti-bullying policy includes prohibition of all forms of bullying in the classroom, within the school premises, at school-sponsored events, and when students are travelling to school. The behavioral rules that must be followed, reporting procedure, and consequences of bullying behavior are clearly stated in the policy.
The policy on bullying
Policy 1: The board of education of this school all acts of bullying, whether physical bullying or cyber-bullying, that may cause either physical harm or emotional distress to students.
Policy 2: The board of education of this school expects students to demonstrate respect for the rights of others and in a manner that keeps to their level of development and maturity.
Policy 3: All students are expected to avoid aggressive behaviors towards their colleagues and be prepared to develop alternative ways of solving problems.
Policy 4: Both teachers and students shall apply best practices aimed at instilling self-discipline and that encourage students to make appropriate choices for the future
Policy 5: Disciplinary action shall be taken against every student who is found to bully his or her colleagues.
Policy 6: Students are free to report bullying incident to their teacher, and teachers are expected to listen to students’ opinions without discrimination.
Policy 7: Reporting procedure: Every student who feels that he or she has been bullied should do either one or all of the following:
- Report the matter to his or her closest friend who should report the matter to teacher
- Report the matter in person to the teacher
Policy 8: No action shall be taken against any student who reports any bullying incident.
Policy 9: Any student who is found guilty of bullying and harassment shall face harsh consequences whose severity will be determined depend on the age of the student, nature of behavior, student’s history of problem behavior.
Policy 10: The remedial action that will be taken against a student who is confirmed to have engaged in buying will be meant to correct problem behavior, protect the victim from continued harm, and prevent occurrences of similar behaviors in future. Examples of consequences include;
- Classroom detention
- Expulsion or termination
- Temporary removal from the classroom
- In-school suspension
- Loss of privileges
- Inclusion in a training session to teach alternative behavior
- Legal action
Strategic Communication Phase
Getting policy implementation right begins with strategic communication. Failure to communicate policy to concerned parties can result into financial waste and disruption of lives of all those people affected by the problem at hand. For successful policy implementation to be achieved, the developed policy must be passed down from leaders of an entity to its stakeholders. For instance, policies that have been formulated to promote traffic safety must be passed from the President, through local government officials to people in charge of public transport. In addition, people required to implement a policy must be able to interpret and effectively apply it. Furthermore, adequate resources must be available for a policy to be effectively implemented (Institute for Government, 2015).
The above policy will be communicated to all parents, teachers, and student considering the fact that they are the institution’s stakeholders. Parents and teachers will be provided with a copy of the policy at the beginning of every school year as part of student handbook. New students will receive a comprehensive orientation on the policy as part of school’s notification to parents. Parents, teachers, and student will be requested to keep in touch with the school suppose they receive any bullying reports from students (Institute for Government, 2015).
After receiving a copy of the policy, students, teacher, and parents are allowed to give feedback which will be accepted by the school. The school will inform teachers, parents, and students to give any comments concerning the developed policy. From the feedback provided by the three stakeholders, the school will find out whether the policy has been accepted and whether there are any issues that require immediate attention. For instance, parents, teachers, and student are expected to state whether they think the terms stated in the policy will help solve the problem of bullying in the school. It is after the necessary corrections to the policy are made when it will be allowed to work in the school (Lunenburg, 2010).
It is important to monitor the policy’s implementation and impact in order to find out whether the policy is worth implementing. Change in the number of reports provided by students as far as bullying is concerned is the metric that should be used in monitoring. In this regard, a reduction in the number of reports will indicate that the policy is effective in solving bullying problem in the school. Therefore, the school should monitor effectiveness of the policy by gathering first hand information from students (Boyd and Barwick, 2011).