FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions about Bullying)
- What is Bullying?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- Imbalance of Power. People who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves.
- Intent to Cause Harm. Actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm.
- Repetition. Incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or group.
- What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles posted on social networking sites. A 2004 i-Safe survey includes some alarming percentages relating to the way students communicate online:
- 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online.
- 53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another online.
- 42% of kids have been bullied while online.
- 58% of kids have not told their parents or any adult about anything mean or hurtful that had happened to them on-line.
- What are the warning signs of bullying?
There are many warning signs that could indicate that a student is involved in bullying, either by bullying others or by being bullied. However, these warning signs may indicate other issues or problems, as well. Below is a list of common signs of:
- Reluctant to go to school or certain places
- Silent about what is happening at school
- Frequent lost or damaged possessions
- Developing academic problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low self-esteem
- Socially isolated
- Quiet, depressed, irritable, or anxious
- Develops physical ailments, poor sleep habits, or unexplained injuries
- Talks about suicide
- Gets into physical or verbal fights with others
- Enjoys putting others down and violence
- Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
- Disrespects authority and disregards rules
- Has an attitude of superiority
- Quick to blame others
- Needs to have power or control over others
- ?What can I do if I am being bullied?
Bullying is wrong and it is not your fault. Everyone deserves to feel safe at school. Follow these steps if you are in a bullying situation:
- Speak up against bullying. Be firm and clear when you speak. Say something like “stop it”.
- Walk away. Act like you do not care, even if you really do.
- Tell an adult you trust. Report it to your parent, teacher, counselor, or School Resource Officer.
- Stick together. The buddy system works. Staying with a group or friend will allow someone else to help you speak up or run to get help.
- ?How can I avoid being bullied?
Bullying can be scary. Know that you are not alone. Follow these steps to help you avoid being in a bullying situation:
- Do not give bullies a chance - take a different route to class or home from school.
- Avoid unsupervised areas of the school.
- Sit at the front of the bus.
- Find a buddy and stick together.
- Stand tall and be brave.
- ?What do I do if my child is bullied?
When your child is being bullied, it is hard to concentrate on anything else. All you want to do is make it stop. Follow the steps below to be the best possible advocate for your child in a bullying situation:
- Stay calm. If you get upset, your child may think you are upset with him instead of at the situation. A knee-jerk reaction to something your child has shared with you may close off the open line of communication.
- Empathize with your child. It’s not their fault. No one deserves to be bullied. Tell them you are glad they had the courage to tell you.
- Ask open-ended questions. This will get your child to open up more about bullying and the severity of the problem. Continue to ask open-ended questions in the future to know if it is a reoccurring issue.
- Encourage your child to make new friends. Help them make new friends. Help get them involved in activities to make new friends.
- Share your own experiences. Sharing your own experiences with a bully will help them understand that they are not alone.
- Brainstorm ways to solve the problem nonviolently. Encouraging retaliation may get your child hurt or suspended.
- Contact school officials to report any incidences. Document everything and stick to the facts. Nothing good can come from a heated argument. In fact, it may damage all open lines of communication with the district. Overreacting may have the opposite effect you intended to have and the school may not take your future complaints seriously.
- Help be a part of the solution. Get involved in your child’s school. Volunteer to watch “hot spots” at school, shadow in the classroom, join the PTA, rally together for an Anti-Bullying event, and sit in on the Safe School Committee.
- Commit to making bullying stop. Work with your child and the school to provide a safe learning environment.
- Build resiliency in your child! This may not be the only time they will come in contact with a bully. We need to do everything we can to help improve coping skills so that they can better handle these hardships in the future.
Teach your child how to report bullying incidents to adults in an effective way. Adults are less likely to discount a child’s report as “tattling” if the report includes what is being done to him that makes him fearful or uncomfortable, who is doing it, what he has done to try to resolve the problem or to get the bully to quit, if there were any witness to the incident, and a clear explanation of what he needs or wants from the adult to stop the bullying.
- ?How do I report bullying incidents to my child’s school?
Bullying incidents should be reported through the school’s chain of command or to the policy indicated personnel, if applicable.
- In most cases, incidents are appropriately addressed with the classroom teacher. If you feel that the classroom teacher is not properly handling the situation, it is recommended that you notify the school principal in writing of the incident and carbon copy (cc) the district superintendent. A letter should state the facts of the incident (free of opinions or emotional statements), your desire for the incident to be resolved, and request a follow-up letter regarding the schools action in the incident. Provide any documentation you may have of the incident, including witnesses, doctor’s notes, police reports, cyber-bullying online printouts, and other information appropriate to the incident. A letter can serve multiple purposes. It will alert school administration of the bullying, your desire for interventions against bullying, can serve as a written record when referring to incident, and provide documentation if you need to escalate the incident up the school’s chain of command.
- If the school principal has not resolved the situation, the next step would be to notify the school district’s superintendent’s office. Follow the same recommendations as notifying the school principal. If you would rather have a meeting to discuss the incident, request the meeting in writing and send a follow-up letter summarizing the discussion after the meeting. This will serve as a written record and provide documentation if you need to escalate the incident.
- The final step in the school’s chain of command would be the locally elected school board members. You must submit your written request to the school board president or policy-indicated personnel to be placed on the school board meeting agenda. School board meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Act.
A quick chart of who to contact regarding bullying behavior at school:
Is someone at immediate risk of harm?
Contact local law enforcement. (911 or School Resource Officer)
Is your child feeling suicidal?
Contact the suicide prevention lifeline. 1-877-273-TALK (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
Is your child's teacher not keeping your child safe?
Contact your school principal.
Is your school principal not keeping your child safe?
Contact your local Safe School Coordinator at the Board of Education office. (see list)
Is your school administrator not keeping your child safe?
Contact your local school board.
Is your child still unsafe without school help?
Contact the State Department of Education for advice.
Is your child sick, stressed, or having other problems because of bullying?
Contact your school counselor or a mental health professional.
Is your child bullied because of their race, ethnicity, or disability without local help?
Contact the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. (www2.ed.gov/ocr)