It is not uncommon to hear about kids being bullied at school. This bullying is known to mostly take place during the recess, where adult supervision is limited and a large number of students are on the playground. There have been instances where the kids punch others, hit with a stick and reduce the moral of another child by telling him that he is weak and unsuitable. The bullied kid as a result starts hating the school, flunks in his studies and suffers in silence. In most cases he doesn’t report these instances to the authority due to fear of retaliation by the bullies.
This bullying is not ok. In the Washington state there are strict laws against harassment, intimidation and bullying of other students. The 2010 Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 2801, a law that prohibits harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) in our schools.
RCW 28A.300.285 defines harassment, intimidation and bullying as any intentionally written message or image—including those that are electronically transmitted—verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, including gender expression or identity, mental or physical disability or other distinguishing characteristics, when an act:
- 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.
- Within that definition: Bullying – intentional, repeated, negative, lack of empathy, power imbalance
- Intimidation - implied or overt threats of physical violence - WAC 495A-121-011
- Harassment - any malicious act, which causes harm to any person's physical or mental well being – WAC 495A121-011
- Discriminatory harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents. Equity Book: p.32
Malicious harassment – threat to harm (often based on protected category)
Sexual harassment - unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct directed at person because of his/her sex where:
(a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's academic standing or employment; or
(b) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic decisions or employment affecting such individual; or
(c) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment. WAC 495A-121-011
- Hazing - any method of initiation into a student organization or living group… that causes, or is likely to cause bodily danger or physical harm, or serious mental or emotional harm...
Schools are required to take action if students report they are being bullied. Since August 2011, each school district has been required to adopt the model Washington anti-bullying policy and procedure.
Since sometime, the Bellevue School District’s Bullying Prevention and Social Skills curriculum is being taught at all grade levels, in every school. Younger students learn about empathy, making friends, problem solving and responding to bullying. Integrated lessons for older students include the impact of gossiping, taunting and bullying, as well as the dangers of cyber-bullying. All students are challenged to think about a “Virtue of the Month,” such as respect, compassion and integrity.
There are also several organizations that provide help and resources on bullying prevention and intervention.
Project Against Bullying: A project run by students for students to raise awareness of the prevalence of bullying in schools globally through community-based research.
The Pacer Institute: PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center unites, engages and educates communities nationwide to address bullying through creative, relevant and interactive resources.
Stopbullying.gov: provides information from various government agencies on bullying, cyber-bullying, who is at risk, and how to prevent and respond to bullying.
Committee for Children: Provides many resources for bullying prevention. This site can guide the selection of a bullying prevention program by the bullying prevention committee.
Cyber-bullying Research Center: The Center provides up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyber-bullying among adolescents.
Girls Study Group: (2008) Understanding and Responding to Girls' Delinquency (PDF): An examination from the U.S. Department of Justice on the involvement of girls in violent activity and the contexts in which girls engage in violent behavior.
International Bullying Prevention Association: The IBPA supports and enhances quality research based bullying prevention principles and practices to achieve a safe school climate, healthy work environment, good citizenship and civic responsibility.
National School Safety Center: Established by presidential directive, the national center is an advocate for safe, secure and peaceful schools.
The Office of the Education Ombudsman provides assistance to resolve complaints, disputes, and problems between families and elementary and secondary public schools in all areas that affect student learning.
Restorative Practice: To help improve communication, develop a sense of community, manage discussions and disagreements, challenge inappropriate behaviors, resolve conflicts, and handle disciplinary issues.
STRYVE: Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere: A national initiative, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which takes a public health approach to preventing youth violence before it starts.
Tribes: Tribes Learning Communities is a research-based process that creates a culture that maximizes learning and human development
There are also several resources available for the families. Families may be especially interested in using the Sample HIB Incident Reporting Form, and the Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying – Targeted Student Safety Plan Template. They may also want to check the list of Compliance Officers for their district’s HIB contact person.
The following is a list of additional resources and sites specifically for parents and families.
- Stopbullying.gov: What You Can Do – Parents
- Harassment, Intimidation & Bullying (HIB) Protocols
- Bullying Fact Sheet
- ACLU Parents’ Guide to Public School Discipline in Washington
- NetFamily News
- Office of the Education Ombudsman
- Parent’s Role in Preventing Bullying, Harassment and Intimidation in Public Schools
- Preventing Bullying Handout
- Seattle Public Schools Bullying Prevention Resources
- Seattle Public Schools Harassment Intimidation & Bullying Brochure
- Spanish Language Resources
- Tumwater School District Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Policy & Procedures Summary
- Welcoming Schools provides administrators, educators and families with resources to make their schools feel welcoming to families of all description.
Yet, another very important resource is the http://www.stopbullying.gov/
Finally, it is in the hands of us all to stop bullying from taking place, anywhere and everywhere.