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Bullying and Harassment

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What is school bullying?

Bullying is exposing a person to abusive actions repeatedly over time. Being aware of children's teasing and acknowledging injured feelings are always important. Bullying becomes a concern when hurtful or aggressive behavior toward an individual or group appears to be unprovoked, intentional, and (usually) repeated. 

Bullying is a form of violence. It involves a real or perceived imbalance of power, with the more powerful child or group attacking those who are less powerful. Bullying may be physical (hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing), verbal (taunting, malicious teasing, name calling, threatening), or emotional (spreading rumors, manipulating social relationships, extorting, or intimidating). Bullying can occur face-to-face or in the online world.

Bullying is also one or more acts by a pupil or group of pupils directed against another pupil that constitutes sexual harassment, hate violence, or severe or pervasive intentional harassment, threats, or intimidation that is disruptive, causes disorder, and invades the rights of others by creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment, and includes acts that are committed personally or by means of an electronic act, as defined.

An "electronic act" is defined as transmission of a communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic devise, including but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager.

What do bullies do?

Bullying actions may be direct or indirect.

Direct bullying or identifiable bullying actions may include:

  • Hitting, tripping, shoving, pinching, and excessive tickling
  • Verbal threats, name calling, racial slurs, and insults
  • Demanding money, property, or some service to be performed
  • Stabbing, choking, burning, and shooting 

Indirect bullying may be more difficult to detect and may include:

  • Rejecting, excluding, or isolating target(s)
  • Humiliating target(s) in front of friends 
  • Manipulating friends and relationships
  • Sending hurtful or threatening e-mail or writing notes
  • Blackmailing, terrorizing, or posing dangerous dares
  • Developing a Web site devoted to taunting, ranking, or degrading a target and inviting others to join in posting humiliating notes or messages.

Do both boys and girls bully?

Yes. Typically, boys are direct and more physical while girls bully in more indirect ways. Some bullies use both direct and indirect strategies. Ultimately, it is important to the bully to be able to choose methods that produce the most success. 

Although bullying among youths involves both bullies and targets of bullying, some students can be both a target and a bully at the same time. School districts must recognize bullying and develop policies that discourage such behavior and establish the consequences for students who bully at school. Everyone at the school, including parents, must understand that bullying is harmful and must take responsibility to recognize and stop bullying when it happens.

Cyber bullying or online bullying is a term used to refer to bullying over electronic media. Cyber bullying is willful and involves recurring or repeated harm inflicted through electronic text. Cyber bullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mail to someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender. Cyber bullies may also include threats, "putdowns" or hate-motivated speech. Cyber bullies may publish the personal contact information of their victims. They may attempt to assume the identity of a victim for the purpose of publishing material in their name that defames or ridicules them.

Who do I contact about bullying concerns?

Students are encouraged to notify school staff when they are being bullied or suspect that another student is being victimized. In addition, the Superintendent or designee shall develop means for students to report threats or incidents confidentially and anonymously.

School staff who witness an act of bullying shall immediately intervene to stop the incident when it is safe to do so. (Education Code 234.1)

When appropriate based on the severity or pervasiveness of the bullying, the Superintendent or designee shall notify the parents/guardians of victims and perpetrators and may contact law enforcement. He/she also may involve school counselors and/or mental health counselors. The Superintendent, principal or principal's designee may refer a victim, witness, perpetrator or other student affected by an act of bullying to a school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, child welfare attendance personnel, school nurse, or other school service personnel for case management, counseling, and/or participation in a restorative justice program as appropriate. (Education Code 48900.9) (cf. 6164.2 – Guidance/Counseling Services)

Reporting and Filing of Complaints

Any student, parent/guardian or other individual who believes that a student has been subjected to bullying or who has witnessed bullying may report the incident to a teacher, the principal, a compliance officer or any other available school employee. Within in one business day of receiving such a report a staff member shall notify the principal of the report, whether or not a uniform complaint is filed. In addition, any school employee who observes an incident of bullying involving a student shall, within one business day, report his/her observation to the principal or a district compliance officer, whether or not the alleged victim files a complaint. Within two business days of receiving a report of bullying, the principal notify the district compliance officer identified in AR 1312.3 – Uniform Complaint Procedures.

For additional questions regarding MDUSD's policies pertaining to bullying and harassment, please call (925) 682-8000 to be connected to one of the following administrators:

Felicia Stuckey-Smith, Director, Student Services, smithf@mdusd.org

Jennifer Sachs, Executive Director, Instructional Support, sachsj@mdusd.org