What Parents Should Know About Bullying
October is National Bullying Prevention Month
Our friends at The Pacer Center in Minnesota offer numerous resources and tools to prevent bullying https://pacer.org/bullying/ The definition of bullying will vary by school and state. Your state may have a legal definition and schools generally have their own unique bullying policy. While there are significant differences between definitions, most include the following traits:
- Behavior that hurts or harms another person physically or emotionally, and
- An inability for the target to stop the behavior and defend themselves, and
- An imbalance of power that occurs when the student doing the bullying has more physical, emotional, or social power than the target, and
- Repetitive behavior; however, bullying can occur in a single incident if that incident is either very severe or arises from a pattern of behavior
Many definitions also include:
- The types of Bullying: The behavior can be overt and direct, with physical behaviors, such as fighting, hitting or name calling, or it can be covert, with emotional-social interactions, such as gossiping or leaving someone out on purpose. Bullying can also happen in-person, online or through smart phones and texts.
- Intent of the part of the student with bullying behavior: “It is intentional, meaning the act is done willfully, knowingly, and with deliberation to hurt or harm,” but there is some controversy with this statement as some assert that not all bullying behavior is done with intent or that the individual bullying realizes that their behavior is hurting another individual.
- The implications for all students: It is also important to note that bullying is not just about the implications for those targeted by the behaviors, but that the behavior can impact all students in the school, including those who witness the behavior and those that engage in the behavior.
- Additional factors: These can include; the differentiation between bullying and harassment, enumeration of protected classes, statements around the use of technology, how the behavior impacts educational performance and the physical locations that would fall under the jurisdiction of school sanctions.
Students often describe bullying as when “someone makes you feel less about who you are as a person.”