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Volunteer Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy & Procedures

Adults in Scouts are from all walks of life, but one thing that unites our volunteers is the energy and enthusiasm they have for giving young people the adventure of Scouts. It’s the policy of Scouts to provide a positive environment, as we know that everyone thrive in safe and supportive surroundings. We’recommitted to making sure that Scouts is enjoyable and safe for everyone involved.

Scout Values

In line with its values, The Scouts recognises its responsibility to deal fairly, constructively and consistently with expressions of concern or dissatisfaction from members and nonmembers, including parents and carers on behalf of themselves or their children.

As Scouts we’re guided by the values of integrity, respect, care, belief and co-operation. When applying this policy, these values should be at the forefront of every interaction and decision that’s made, and all involved should be regularly reminded of them.

Focusing on the values of respect and care, the wellbeing and mental health of all involved when dealing with an expression of concern or dissatisfaction should be considered throughout. The ‘Supporting the wellbeing and mental health when a concern is raised’ webpage. 

Where an individual has raised a concern or several concerns which, individually or collectively, could be classified under more than one of the Scouts’ policies, it may be decided to consider them all under the same policy. Scouts has complete discretion to decide under which of its policies a concern should be considered and their decision in relation to this is final.

Introduction 

Adults in Scouts are from all walks of life, but one thing that unites our volunteers is the energy and enthusiasm they have for giving young people the adventure of Scouts. It’s the policy of Scouts to provide a positive environment, as we know that everyone thrives in safe and supportive surroundings. We’re committed to making sure that Scouts is enjoyable and safe for everyone involved.

Anti-bullying and harassment policy guidance

Bullying and harassment can be detrimental to individuals and may happen without the individual or others recognising the behaviour. It’s also important to acknowledge that, for various reasons, recipients of bullying and harassment may not wish or be able to report their concerns. Bullying or harassment can take many forms; it can occur between two individuals or may involve groups. It may be persistent or an isolated incident. It can also occur in person, written or electronic communications, including social media or by phone.

Bullying is characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. It’s not classed as bullying if a line manager is solely making sure you follow the rules set out in POR. It’s more than a strong, firm or authoritarian interaction. It’s destructive rather than constructive, it’s a criticism of the person rather than their mistakes, to publicly humiliate rather than privately correct; and results in the individual feeling threatened or compromised.

Bullying usually results from the misuse of status; it can also result from the misuse of any form of individual power. It’s recognised that there is a difference between feeling bullied and being bullied. An individual may experience feelings similar to those of harassment, for example feeling compromised or threatened, if they’re being corrected or reprimanded by their line manager. However, provided the correction or reprimand is carried out reasonably, and in an appropriate and constructive manner, this would not constitute bullying.

The following list is a (not exhaustive) list of examples of bullying:

It’s accepted that these descriptions represent extremes of behaviour, although in practice bullying may not always be clear and individuals may display behaviour that doesn’t fall into these categories or may not be explicit.

Any such unwanted behaviour is unacceptable if it can reasonably be considered as having the purpose or effect of violating the recipient’s dignity and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment generally consists of a number of incidents, although a single incident may amount to harassment, if sufficiently serious.

Bullying and harassment includes all communication whether it’s verbal, non-verbal or in writing, including over social media and all electronic communication.

Our Commitment 

Scouts is committed to providing a safe, healthy and productive environment for all our volunteers. Bullying and harassment is not only incompatible with the Scouts’ values, but the impact, if unchecked or managed poorly, is potentially damaging for the reputation of the organisation. We take guidance from the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all our volunteers.

Raising a concern

Scouts acknowledges that it can be a difficult decision to report a concern of bullying and/or harassment about someone known to you. A volunteer may also feel unsure about whether the behaviour they are experiencing or witnessing amounts to bullying or harassment.

However, it’s important that action is taken promptly in order to prevent the situation deteriorating. All concerns raised should be done in-line with the Scouts’ Complaints policy.

Responsibilities

Scouts understands the duty to develop and support the organisation so that the Volunteer anti-bullying and harassment policy is embedded and effective across all levels of the movement. This policy will be available on the Scouts website and the contents will be regularly communicated across all levels of the organisation.

Relevant legislation

The Equality Act 2010 gives protection from discrimination. This is for anyone who is treated unfairly because of one or more of nine protected characteristics or because someone believes you belong to a group of people with protected characteristics. The Act also protects you if someone in your life (such as family or friends) have a protected characteristic and you are treated unfairly because of that.

Bullying, harassment and the law

Certain types of bullying or harassment, if linked to the protected characteristics of Equality Act 2010, will be unlawful and can lead to civil proceedings being taken against the person responsible. In some cases, the behaviour may constitute a crime such as racial hatred or sexual assault and therefore could lead to a report to the police being made and a criminal prosecution.

Complaints that involve a protected characteristic, reach the criminal threshold or are serious in their nature should be discussed with the Safeguarding Team.

Review

This policy is due for review:

  • every 12 months, or;
  • following any legislative changes, or;
  • following any learning by the Scouts, or;
  • as required by the Charity Commission, or;
  • any change in jurisdictional guidance, whichever comes first.

The policy will be reviewed alongside any policy that is referenced within this policy by the Safeguarding Committee and revisions will be recommended to the Board of Trustees.