Gloucester Rowing Club (GRC) adopts the wording and principles of British Rowing’s Welfare Guidance WG 1.1 ‘Anti-Bullying Policy’ (2010) as the basis for this club policy. Although the wording of the British Rowing ‘Anti-Bullying Policy’ is written with reference to children and Adults at Risk, the statements shall be taken to apply equally to all members of the club.
Aim of this policy
GRC recognise that bullying is a serious social issue and the club has a zero tolerance of bullying of any kind. Members shall be expected to abide by the club’s Codes of Conduct and Policies to create a caring, friendly and safe environment for all members so they can train in a relaxed and secure atmosphere. This policy sets out the procedure for investigating allegations of bullying.
Definition of bullying
The club shall define bullying as typically comprising of a number of minor actions carried out over a period of time, that on their own would not be subject to disciplinary action, but cumulatively they can be viewed as harmful to the targeted individual to leave them feeling threatened and humiliated, resulting in loss of self-esteem, confidence and ability to perform.
Bullying may consist of one individual behaving inappropriately towards another individual, or it may be a group of individuals behaving inappropriately towards one or more individuals. Conversely, one individual may behave in an undesirable manner that is aimed at several individuals. The club recognises that often those who bully need support and understanding in order to modify their own behaviour.
Bullying can be any of the following actions:
- Emotional - being unfriendly, excluding (emotionally and physically), sending hurtful text messages
- Tormenting, (e.g. hiding kit or equipment, threatening gestures)
- Physical - pushing, kicking, hitting, punching or any use of violence
- Racist - racial taunts, graffiti, gestures
- Sexual - unwanted physical contact or sexually abusive comments
- Homophobic - because of, or focussing on the issue of sexuality
- Verbal - name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, teasing.
Signs and symptoms of bullying
A member may indicate by signs or behaviour that they are being bullied. Members shall be expected to be aware of possible signs of bullying and to report concerns to a club official as soon as practically possible if a member:
- Complains of being bullied
- Is unwilling to go to club sessions
- Becomes withdrawn anxious, or lacking in confidence
- Repeatedly feels ill before training sessions
- Has possessions damaged or go missing
- Starts asking for money or starts stealing money (to pay bully)
- Has unexplained cuts or bruises
- Is reluctant to explain what’s wrong
- Gives improbable excuses for any of the above.
In more extreme cases:
- Starts stammering
- Becomes emotional
- Becomes aggressive, disruptive or unreasonable
- Starts bullying others
- Stops eating
- Attempts or threatens suicide or runs away.
The club is aware that these signs and behaviours may indicate other problems, but bullying shall be considered a possibility and should be investigated.
Procedures for investigating bullying
All members shall be responsible for reporting allegations of bullying or threats of bullying to either the Chairman or Secretary, Club Welfare Officer (CWO) or other Committee member as appropriate. The club shall be responsible for taking all allegations seriously and to deal with incidents promptly and effectively. If allegations involve an Adult at Risk then the club shall refer to BR WG 1.15 ‘Dealing with allegations of bullying Vulnerable Adults’ (2010). The club shall follow the steps below:
Step 1. Informal Reconciliation – if appropriate, the Chairman or Secretary shall attempt reconciliation by getting the parties together. Where the allegation involves a child or Adult at Risk, the CWO and the parents/carers shall be informed and shall be asked to come in to a meeting to discuss the problem. It may be that a genuine apology or an agreement not to repeat the behaviour solves the problem.
Step 2. Formal Meeting - if reconciliation fails, or it is not appropriate to bring the parties together, the club shall make up a panel of 3 to include the Chairman, Secretary and either another Committee member or CWO as appropriate, to hold separate formal meetings with the member(s) alleged to be the bully and the member(s) alleging bullying to obtain details of the bullying behaviour and occurrence. If the bullying involves a junior under the age of 18 or an Adult at Risk, their parents/carers shall be invited to attend those meetings. Minutes of the meetings shall be taken for clarity, which shall be agreed by all as a true account.
Step 3. Referral - in cases of bullying involving juniors under the age of 18, or Adults at Risk, the CWO shall refer to the British Rowing Lead Safeguarding Officer for advice. Depending on the severity of the bullying and the pattern of behaviour, the matter may be referred to the Police or Social Services.
Step 4. Disciplinary Procedure - if the panel conclude that bullying has occurred then they shall treat the allegation as a formal complaint and follow disciplinary action under the club’s Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure’. As part of this process the club shall endeavour to help the member(s) found to be bullying to change their behaviour. The club shall inform the victim(s) of the bullying about the outcome of the allegation.
Step 5. Monitoring Behaviour - the club shall monitor the situation for a given period to ensure the bullying is not being repeated.
Step 6. Cessation of Membership - if the bullying behaviour is repeated, the club Committee shall consider further disciplinary action to suspend the membership of the member(s), or in severe cases the club may expel the member(s) from the club for breach of the club’s Constitution, Codes of Conduct and Policies. The club may also consider referring the matter to British Rowing for direction under their own Disciplinary Procedures.