x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 October 2017

Bullying guidelines brought in by education council

The news follows an incident where a schoolgirl, Lujain Hussein, 11, was taken to hospital where she is still in a medically induced coma after a playground fight.

ABU DHABI // The capital's education regulator is bringing in guidelines to help schools prevent bullying and other behavioural problems in pupils.

The guidelines, developed last year by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), will add to a disciplinary code issued by the Ministry of Education in December.

Adec is training educators on how to use the guidelines in workshops.

The news follows an incident where a schoolgirl, Lujain Hussein, 11, was taken to hospital where she is still in a medically induced coma after a playground fight at Al Maali International School.

Lujain's brother said her family did not realise the girl was being bullied until she was hurt on April 19. Her family asked why school staff were not able to prevent or stop the fight.

Adec is waiting for police and hospital reports to assess evidence in the case, a spokeswoman said.

"Adec believes that every student has the right to be educated in a safe, supportive and orderly school environment that is free from disruptions and obstacles that impede learning," the council said.

To manage fighting, bullying or other bad behaviour, schools are supposed to refer to a code developed by the Ministry of Education, called Student Conduct Disciplinary Bylaw in Schools Community.

The code calls for reinforcing good behaviour through praise and other measures.

It also outlines five levels of bad behaviour. Public indecency, sexual assault, drug use or assaulting schoolmates are all fifth-level violations; threatening staff is in the fourth level; while threatening schoolmates physically or verbally falls in the second level.

The code calls for teachers to deal with students "on the basis of respect" and to avoid angry or vengeful punishment. It gives appropriate disciplinary measures for each level.

At the lowest levels, students face a verbal notice or having their parents notified. Students who commit fifth-level violations could be banned from school for a year.

In Abu Dhabi, the code is accompanied by Adec's Teacher Code of Conduct, which instructs educators to protect student welfare.

The Guidelines for Managing Student Behaviour developed last year "further support schools in the prevention of bullying", Adec said.

vnereim@thenational.ae