FAQs About Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying
What is bullying? How do we define it?
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.
Is this the same as the definition in the law?
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
What does “electronic forms of bullying” mean?
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.
What are some ways students bully?
Why is this issue so important now?
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.
Who is involved in bullying?
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.
Isn’t this just “kid stuff?”
No, bullying can look like and be related to other aggressive behavior such as:
- Harassment – sexual, racial/ethnic, religious
- Dating violence
- Spousal abuse
- Child abuse.
Keep all of these terms in mind when talking about “bullying.”
What are some of the impacts of bullying on our students?
Bullying is a community activity and impacts everyone. Some of those impacts on targets include:
- Truancy and absences
- Decreased self-esteem
- 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
How does bullying differ from other forms of conflict?
How can we determine the prevelance of bullying at our school or district?
There are several ways you can determine the extent of bullying in your district or at your school.
- 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.)
What are we doing about bullying?
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.
What about adult harassment, intimidation, and bullying?
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)