Bullying and Cyber Bullying Legislation Helps Protect Our Students!
Visit the State of Delaware Department of Education Website and click on the School Climate and Discipline link for details or enter the following address:
Need more information, help, or have questions, contact the School Crime and Bullying Ombudsperson at 1-800-220-5414
NCCVT Bullying Definition:
(Pg. 47 section H. of the Student Code of Conduct)
Intentional written, electronic, verbal, or physical action or actions against a student, school volunteer, or school employee that aims to dominate another person causing pain, fear, embarrassment, humiliation, or creating a disruption of the educational process.
FAQs ABOUT BULLYING
Source: Olweus Bully Prevention Program website: http://www.olweus.org/public/faqs.page
Question: What Is Bullying?
Answer: In order to address the issue of bullying, it is important to clearly understand how bullying is defined. A commonly used definition developed by the international bullying prevention expert Dr. Olweus is: A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions onthe part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself. Expressed in more everyday language one might say: Bullying is when someone repeatedly and onpurpose says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending himself or herself.
Question: What Are the Different Forms or Kinds of Bullying?
Answer: There are several different forms of bullying. The Olweus Bullying Questionnaire asks specific questions about the following forms of bullying:
- verbal bullying
- social exclusion or isolation
- physical bullying
- bullying through lies and false rumors
- having money or other things taken or damaged
- threats or being forced to do things
- racial bullying
- sexual bullying
- cyber bullying (via cell phone or the Internet)
It is possible to divide the different types of bullying into direct and indirect forms. In direct forms, bullying involves relatively open attacks, usually in a face-to-face confrontation. Typical examples of direct bullying include verbal bullying with derogatory comments and nasty names, and physical bullying with hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting.
In indirect bullying, the aggressive acts are more concealed and subtle, and it may be more difficult for the bullied student to know who is responsible for the bullying. Typical examples include social isolation—that is, intentionally excluding someone from a group or activity—and spreading lies and nasty rumors.
Several forms of cyber bullying may also be considered indirect in the sense that nasty messages are delivered from a distance, not in a face-to-face way, and from anonymous sources. And in some cases, it may be difficult or almost impossible to find out who originally sent the message.
Question: How Does Bullying Differ from Other Types of Aggression between Students?
Answer: Bullying can be distinguished from other kinds of aggression between students in a number of ways, but most obviously by the following:
- the negative behaviors are intentionally targeted at a specific individual (it isn’t an accident that this incident happened);
- the repetitive nature of bullying (it isn’t usually a onetime event); and
- the power imbalance between the students.
Question: Why Shouldn’t We Use a Conflict Resolution or Peer Mediation Program to Address Bullying Issues?
Answer: One of the main characteristics of bullying is an imbalance of power; therefore, it cannot be considered “normal” relational conflict between two students. Bullying is a form of peer abuse. The student who is being bullied needs to be protected from such victimization. The student or students who bully others must be helped to stop their destructive behavior.
It is clear that conflict resolution and/or peer mediation strategies can serve a positive role in building a safe school climate when used with conflict situations. Conflict resolution or peer mediation strategies, however, should not be used to address bullying problems because:
Peer mediation/conflict resolution programs assume there is a bit of both right and wrong on both sides. Such programs may place some blame on the student who is being bullied and free the student or students who are bullying from some responsibility. These programs work toward a compromise that, in the case of bullying, could mean further victimization of the student who has been bullied.
Another common assumption in such programs is that both parties have about the same negotiating power. This is usually not the case in bullying situations where there is an imbalance in power in favor of the student or students who bully. Chances are the bullied student will be the loser in such negotiations.
In peer mediation/conflict resolution programs, the mediator is told not to take a moral stand on the issue at hand. In the case of bullying, it is very important that the adults take a moral stand and clearly communicate that bullying is not acceptable.
Conflict resolution/peer mediation programs leave most of the responsibility for solving bullying problems to the students. However, bullying problems are often complex and difficult to handle, even for trained school staff. To defer these problems to the students is giving them too much responsibility. By using peer mediators, staff may also think that bullying is not their problem to solve.
Question: What Causes Bullying?
Answer: There is no single or simple “cause” of bullying behavior. Research clearly suggests that personality characteristics and a student’s tendency toward aggressive behaviors, combined with physical strength or weakness (in the case of boys) are important risk factors for bullying in individual students.
In addition, environmental factors such as the attitudes, routines, and behaviors of important adults (in particular teachers and administrators) play a major role in determining whether bullying will appear in a classroom or a school. Theattitudes and behavior of peers also play critical roles.
Question: Why Do Some Students Bully?
Research suggests there are several partly interrelated motives for bullying:
- Students who bully have strong needs for power and (negative) dominance; they seem to enjoy being “in control” and subduing others.
- Students who bully find satisfaction in causing injury and suffering to other students. This may be at least partly due to the environment at home, which may have caused hostility within the student.
- Students who bully are often rewarded in some way for their behavior. This could be material or psychological rewards, such as forcing the student who is bullied to give them money or enjoying the attention, status, and prestige they are granted from other students because of their behavior.
- Students who bully others may have some common family characteristics, such as parents who are not very involved in their children’s lives, who lack warmth and positive involvement. Some parents may not have set clear limits on their children’s aggressive behavior and may have allowed them to act out aggressively toward their siblings and other children.
- Parents of children who bully sometimes use physical punishments and other “power-assertive” methods of child rearing. (2)
- In addition, students who bully others are more likely than other students to have seen or been involved in domestic violence. (3) In all probability, they have also been exposed or exposed themselves to violence in the media and maybe through participation in “power sports” like boxing, kickboxing, and wrestling. (4) It is important to emphasize once more that these are main trends. Not all students who come from families with these characteristics will bully others, and not all students who bully come from these family environments. The peer group may also play an important role in motivating and encouraging bullying behavior in certain children and youth.
Question: How Common Is Bullying?
Answer: The first large-scale, nationally representative study of bullying conducted in Norway was done in1983 with more than 40,000 students aged eight to sixteen. This study found that 15 percent of children and youth reported that they had been regularly involved in bullying problems.5 This represents one out of seven students. Nine percent had been bullied, 7 percent had bullied other students, and less than 1.5 percent had been both bullied and bullied others.
A later (2001) large-scale Norwegian survey of 11,000 students from fifty-four elementary and junior high schools gave much the same picture but with two disturbing trends:(1) The percentage of bullied students had increased by approximately 50 percent from 1983 to 2001, and (2) the percentage of students who were involved in the most frequent (and serious) form of bullying had increased by 65 percent.6
Olweus Bullying Prevention Program researchers and others have also conducted studies to determine how prevalent bullying is in the United States. In a study of 6,500 students in grades 4–6 in rural South Carolina, they found that 23 percent had been bullied “several times” or more often within a school term, and 20 percent had bullied others.7
In the first nationally representative U.S. study of bullying, which included more than 15,000 students in grades 6–10, researchers found that 17 percent of students reported having been bullied “sometimes” or more often during the school term and 8 percent had been bullied at least once a week. Nineteen percent had bullied others “sometimes” or more often during the term, and 9 percent had bullied other students at least once a week.8
It should be emphasized that the data from these studies are average estimates that do not highlight the great variation between different schools. Even within the same community/school district, one school may experience bullying problems at alevel two or three times higher than that of another school.
Question: Is Bullying All That Harmful?
Answer: Yes. Students who are bullied may develop physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains, or sleeping problems. They may be afraid to go to school, go to the bathroom or play on the playground at school, or ride the school bus. They may also lose interest in school, have trouble concentrating, and do poorly academically.
Bullied students often lose confidence in themselves and start to think of themselves as stupid, a failure, or unattractive. They may even develop feelings of guilt for being bullied (“there must be something wrong with me since I am the one being bullied”). Although relatively rare, some students who have been bullied repeatedly attempt and actually die by suicide.
Bullying can also affect students who are bystanders. Students who observe bullying may feel anxious (perhaps they will be targeted next?) or guilty (for not intervening to stop bullying). Over time, students who observe frequent bullying may feel less and less empathy for the student who is being bullied.
Students who bully others are more likely to become involved in other problem behaviors, such as criminality and substance abuse. One study found that by the age of twenty-four, boys who were identified as bullying others in junior high school were four times more likely to have been convicted of three or more criminal acts than boys who did not bully others.
It is important for schools to understand that when they initiate a bullying prevention program, they are doing so for the benefit of all students in the school—not just to protect the students who are being bullied.
Bullying Incident Reporting Procedures
The following is a guideline of procedures that students, parents, and staff are to follow when reporting bullying incidents.
- All bullying incidents, substantiated or unsubstantiated, must be reported to building administrators, student advisor, or guidance counselors immediately following, witnessing, or being informed of a bullying incident. The Student Code of Conduct defines bullying as:
- Intentional written, electronic, verbal, or physical action or actions against a student, school volunteer, or school employee that aims to dominate another person by causing pain, fear, embarrassment, humiliation, or creating a disruption of the educational process.
- Bullying victims will be interviewed by an administrator or designee. Bully victims will then complete a bullying incident report form which is available in the Student Advisors Office and online on the school websites.
- An administrator or designee will interview all suspects, witnesses and victims.
- The parents/guardians of suspects and victims will be contacted and documented in e- School.
- All incidents, substantiated or not, are to be documented in e-School.
- Bullying suspects will be disciplined following the Student Code of Conduct in the Student/Parent handbook.
- In the event of a parent/guardian appeal, the appeal process will be followed in accordance with the Student/Parent Handbook.
- Parents that have further questions or concerns in regards to a bullying incident will be directed to the DOE ombudsperson for further information and as a resource.