Identifying and Reporting Bullying
Stephenville ISD provides a safe, secure, and healthy learning environment where students are valued and encouraged to treat others with respect. Students, parents, and school staff must work together to recognize and report 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:
- An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
- Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Types of Bullying
There are three types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm
- Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
- Leaving someone out on purpose
- Telling other children not to be friends with someone
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
- Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
- Taking or breaking someone’s things
- Making mean or rude hand gestures
Where and When Bullying Happens
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.
What is Harassment?
Harassment is conduct that meets the definition established in district policies DIA(LOCAL) and FFH(LOCAL); or is conduct that threatens to cause harm or bodily injury to another student, is sexually intimidating, causes physical damage to the property of another student, subjects another student to physical confinement or restraint, or maliciously and substantially harms another student’s physical or emotional health or safety.
What is Hazing?
Hazing is an intentional or reckless act, on or off campus, by one person alone or acting with others, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, initiation into, affiliation with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization.
Warning Signs for Parents
Possible warning signs that a student is being bullied
• Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
• Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
• Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
• Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking
part in organized activities with peers
• Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school
• Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
• Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
• Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
• Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
• Experiences a loss of appetite
• Appears anxious and suffers from low self esteem
What to do if you think your child is being bullied
1. Focus on your child. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying.
• Don’t blame the child who is being bullied.
• Listen carefully to what your child tells you about the bullying.
• Have your child tell you who was involved and when and where each episode happened.
• Learn as much as you can about the bullying tactics used.
• Can he or she name other children or adults who may have witnessed the bullying?
• Empathize with your child and tell them that you are glad they had the courage to tell you
• Ask your child what he or she thinks can be done to help.
• If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don’t criticize him or her.
• Do not encourage physical retaliation (“Just hit them back”) as a solution. Hitting another
student is not likely to end the problem and could result in your child having consequences.
• Check your emotions. A parent’s protective instinct is very strong. Although it is difficult, a
parent is wise to step back and consider the next steps carefully.
2. Contact your child’s teacher or school administrator
• Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop
without the help of adults.
• Keep your emotions in check. Give factual information about your child’s experience of being
bullied including who, what, when, where, and how.
• Emphasize that you want to work with the school staff to find a solution
• Do not contact the parents of the students(s) who bullied your child. This is usually a parent’s
first response but sometimes it makes matters worse.
• Expect the bullying to stop. Talk regularly with your child and with school staff. If the bullying
persists, contact school authorities again.
3. Help your child become more resilient to bullying.
• Help to develop talents or positive attributes of your child. Doing so may help your child be more confident among peers
• Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students in his or her class.
• Help your child meet new friends outside of the school environment. A new environment can provide a “fresh start” for a child who has been bullied repeatedly.
• Teach your child safety strategies.
o How to seek help from an adult when feeling threatened by a bully
o Talk about whom he or she should go to for help
o Role play what to say
o Assure your child that reporting bullying is not the same as tattling
• Ask yourself if your child is being bullied because of a learning difficulty or lack of social skills.
If your child is hyperactive, impulsive, or overly talkative, the child who bullies may be reacting
out of annoyance. This doesn’t make the bullying right, but it may help to explain why your
child is being bullied. If your child easily irritates people, seek help from a counselor so that
your child can better learn the informal social rules of his or her peer group.
• Home is where the heart is. Make sure your child has a safe and loving home environment
where he or she can take shelter, physically and emotionally.
• Always maintain open lines of communication with your child.
What to do if you are being bullied or if you witness bullying
Speak UP! Tell an adult. Remember that both the kids who are bullied and the kids who bully others may have serious and long lasting problems.