Thursday, March 6, 2008

What is bullying?

Last MPH held a bullying seminar for parents. For middle school educators, bullying is as much a part of the conversation as is organizing three ring binders and getting students to complete rough drafts. Last year, while head of middle school at a school in California, I worked closely with an organization called No Bully based in the Bay Area. The first thing we did was to define bullying. What is it? What does it look like? Once this is done by a school, the administrators and teachers can begin to address the students constructively, systematically and clearly, all of which is crucial to the emotional health of middle schoolers. This is the definition we used:

What is Bullying?

School bullying takes four main forms.
Physical bullying, where a student uses physical force to hurt another student by hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking, pinching or holding them down. Physical bullying also includes taking or breaking a student’s belongings or stealing or extorting money.

Verbal bullying is when a student uses words to hurt another student. This includes threatening, taunting, intimidating, insulting, sarcasm, name-calling, teasing, slurs, graffiti, put-downs and ridicule. It also includes hostile gestures such as making faces, staring, giving the evil eye, eye rolling and spitting.

Relational bullying occurs when students disrupt another student’s peer relationships through leaving them out, gossiping, whispering and spreading rumors. It includes when students turn their back on another student, giving them the silent treatment, ostracizing or scape-goating.

Cyberbullying refers to the use of cell-phones, text messages, e-mails, instant messages, web blogs and postings to bully another student in any of the ways described above. Examples of cyberbullying are sending threatening or insulting messages by phone and e-mail, and spreading destructive rumors.

When bullying is also harassment. Bullying is part of a continuum of student violence and may, at times, amount to harassment. Harassment occurs when a student is the recipient of threatening, disturbing or unwelcome behaviors because of a particular characteristic. Many forms of harassment are prohibited by federal and state laws, the most well known being harassment based upon a student’s race or sex.

Students are often bullied for reasons beyond those prohibited by anti-harassment laws. Particularly at risk are students who are perceived as gay or lesbian or who do not conform to stereotypical gender expectations. Students are also targeted for not belonging to the dominant race or class, because they are disabled or obese, for being less (or more) intelligent, athletic, attractive, confident or simply because they dare to be different. If we allow harassment and bullying to continue at our schools, we fail to protect the diversity of our children and ultimately our whole culture.

I urge you check out their website for more info:

1 comment:

Marianne Sandstrom said...

Jim, Well done! People are reading this and taking lots of interest.
Thanks Marianne