FAQs About Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying

  • What is bullying? How do we define it?

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    Bullying is when a student or students are being exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students. Bullying exists when…

    • There is intentional harm-doing.
    • Where a negative action is repeated over time,
    • There is an imbalance of power.
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  • Is this the same as the definition in the law?

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    RCW 28A.300.285 defines harassment, intimidation, or bullying as an intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act that:

    • Physically harms a student or damages the student’s property
    • Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s education
    • Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment
    • Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school
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  • What does “electronic forms of bullying” mean?

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    Our state law specifically mentions electronic forms of bullying. This is commonly referred to as “cyberbullying”.

    • Cyberbullying is done in a variety of ways using a variety of devices, but it is not just a technology issue.
    • There is a very close relationship between cyberbullying and ‘regular’ bullying.
    • They are very likely one and the same for students.
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What are some ways students bully?

  • Why is this issue so important now?

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    It’s the law. We are required to address bullying.

    • It’s the right thing to do!
    • There are potential long-term negative effects on those involved.
    • There is potential negative impact on school climate.
    • There is a connection between bullying and academic achievement.

    In addition to state law, there are liability issues. Schools may be found liable if it can be shown that:

    • The school environment has been altered for a targeted student(s).
    • Any staff knew or should have known.
    • There was a failure to act.
    • There was deliberate indifference.
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  • Who is involved in bullying?

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    Everyone! Bullying is a community event. It negatively impacts school climate.The key people are the:

    • Targeted Student – The person on the receiving end who often needs help and support.

    Targeted students are sometimes referred to as victims; they can be anyone.
    Some students tend to be more likely targets than other.

    • Aggressor – The one who bullies – bullying is a learned behavior.

    Aggressors are the ones who bully. They are the perpetrators of the negative behavior.
    Some young people are both bully and target depending on their circumstances; they are of particular concern.

    • Bystanders – All the rest of us.

    Bystanders can be active or passive, can be helpful or hurtful.
    They are negatively affected by bullying and can be a powerful force in stopping bullying.

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  • Isn’t this just “kid stuff?”

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    No, bullying can look like and be related to other aggressive behavior such as:

    • Harassment – sexual, racial/ethnic, religious
    • Intimidation
    • Hazing
    • Dating violence
    • Spousal abuse
    • Child abuse.

    Keep all of these terms in mind when talking about “bullying.”

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  • What are some of the impacts of bullying on our students?

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    Bullying is a community activity and impacts everyone. Some of those impacts on targets include:

    • Truancy and absences
    • Decreased self-esteem
    • Headaches
    • Depression
    • Emotional distress / anxiety
    • Reduced academic risk taking
    • Increased suicidal/homicidal ideation and attempts

    Bullying is a community activity and impacts everyone.
    Some of the impacts on aggressors include:

    • Failure to develop healthy relationships
    • More likely to continue to be abusive later in life
    • Less likely to complete their education

    Almost 60% of boys who were bully-aggressors in grades 6 thru 9 were convicted of at least one crime by age 24… 40% of them had three or more convictions by that age. (Fight Crime 2003)

    Some of those impacts on bystanders and climate include:

    • Feeling vulnerable and afraid
    • Feeling helpless in the situation
    • Feeling guilty for not helping
    • Having diminished empathy
    • Establishing a climate of fear
    • Leading to diminished student learning
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How does bullying differ from other forms of conflict?

  • How can we determine the prevelance of bullying at our school or district?

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    There are several ways you can determine the extent of bullying in your district or at your school.

    • Surveys
    • Listen and observe
      • What are staff perceptions?
      • What are parent’s perceptions?
      • What are students telling us?
    • Track our data (UBS’s, discipline data, etc.)
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  • What are we doing about bullying?

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    Recognize and understand the issues.

    • We’re working on ensuring everyone understands policy and procedures (students, staff, and parents).
    • Looking over your data.
    • Involving our entire staff and school community in prevention-intervention efforts.
    • We identified a tested-effective program to implement: Safe and Civil Schools.
    • Trained our staff.
    • Implement selected program with fidelity.
    • We continue to monitor and work with our school community.
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  • What about adult harassment, intimidation, and bullying?

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    Harassment, intimidation and bullying of students are prohibited.

    • The aggressor may be another student or it may be an adult member of the district or school staff.
    • Adult-on-adult HIB is NOT included under the law, the policy or the procedures.

    Adapted from The School Safety Center (OSPI WASHINGTON STATE)

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