Bullying, a behavior that hurts, harms, or humiliates someone physically or emotionally, is a serious issue that impacts thousands of students every day. As damaging as bullying may be, there is hope! With education and awareness, bullying can be prevented at school, in neighborhoods, and online.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of real or perceived power between individuals with the intent to cause harm. Students who are the targets of bullying behavior and those who exhibit bullying behavior toward others may suffer serious, lasting consequences. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must include:
A Deliberate Act: To cause emotional or physical harm to another individual.
An Imbalance of Power: Those 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 vary in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
Repetition: Bullying behaviors that display more than one time or have the potential to happen more than once.
Types of Bullying
Verbal, Social/Psychological/Relational, and Physical are three types of bullying outlined by the federal government and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Cyberbullying can involve all three types of bullying and takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets, as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. This type of bullying is becoming more prevalent every day. Examples include:
- Demeaning or hateful text messages or emails
- Rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites
- Embarrassing pictures, videos, website, or fake profiles posted online
Why is Cyberbullying different than the other types of bullying?
Students who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, students who are cyberbullied have a more difficult time escaping the negative behavior.
- Cyberbullying can occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a student when he or she is alone and/or when in their own home.
- Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
- Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures are extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.
What exactly is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place via electronic communications or digital devices such as cell phones, tablets, or computers. It is deliberate harassing, intimidating, shaming, or otherwise targeting another person via electronic devices. Cyberbullying is a serious act that has lasting consequences.
Cyberbullying commonly occurs on social media like text messaging through devices; instant messaging through devices; email provider services; social media message features; diary sites; interactive games; online profiles; Apps; and more. With easy access and the prevalence of such media and digital forums, personal content can be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. Racism, intolerance, and fear can also play a role.
Cyberbullying has special aspects. It can be persistent, permanent, and/or hard to notice. When it is persistent, it can be difficult for students who experience it to find relief. When cyberbullying is posted online, it becomes publicly available and may lead to a negative online reputation impacting college admissions, employment, and other areas of life. Cyberbullying is harder to recognize since educators and parents may not overhear or see it taking place. Similar to acts of bullying, students may be reluctant to report cyberbullying due to humiliation or embarrassment.
Is Cyberbullying a Crime?
Some types of online or electronic conduct are crimes. The underlying challenge to determining criminal acts is that cyberbullying can take many forms and can violate a number of disparate criminal statues dependent on the underlying content. As examples, but not an exhaustive list, statutory violations can include:
- Identity Theft, Penal Code section 530.5; here the harasser assumes the identity of the victims and creates a social media page or communication that appears to come from the victim. This is also a violation of Penal Code section 529, false personation.
- Unlawful recording, Penal Code section 632; here the harasser records the victim without their knowledge and posts the conversation.
- Cyber exploitation generally. See https://oag.ca.gov/cyberexploitation. A list of crimes can be found at https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/ce/cyber-exploitation-post.pdf.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying is not limited to a specified form of conduct. Its only limit is that of the human imagination to cause harm and perpetrators are consistently adopting new technology and innovative techniques to accomplish their goals.
Social Media Bullying
According to bullyingstatistics.org cyberbullying statistics show most cases are taking place on popular social media sites. Social Media Bullying can take many forms, such as sending mean messages to people or threats to a person's life, aggressive or rude texts, tweets, posts, or messages. It can also be stealing a person's account information to publicize private information by spreading it on social media websites.
If you think a child is being bullied
- Report the bullying to any school employee either verbally or through the STOP!T App.
- Complaints of bullying will be investigated and resolved in accordance with the district's uniform complaint procedures specified in AR 1312.3.
- In order to better investigate an incident of bullying a parent or student may be asked to fill out this Bullying Incident form.
- When a student is reported to be engaging in bullying off-campus, we will investigate and document the activity and identify specific facts or circumstances that explain the impact or potential impact on school activity, school attendance, or the targeted student's educational performance.
- When the circumstances involve cyberbullying, individuals are encouraged to save and print any electronic or digital messages that they feel constitutes cyber-bullying and to report it to a teacher, school administrator so that the matter can be investigated.
STOPit! is an online reporting tool designed to deter and mitigate bullying and cyber abuse, consisting of an app and a back-end incident management system (DOCUMENTit!) for school administrators.
This app will empower students to stand up for themselves and for one another. Students will have the power to help put an end to harmful and inappropriate behavior they see online through social media and other means. STOPit! has been purchased for students in Grade 2 through Grade 12.
WHAT IS STOPIT?
With STOPit, students can submit anonymous reports containing text, photos, or video. Administrators are then able to manage incidents in a backend management system called DOCUMENTit. DOCUMENTit provides efficient and powerful investigative tools to our staff, including the ability to message with the reporter, which will allow us to address issues instantly.
STOPit does more than just help schools address incidents and mitigate risk. STOPit will also help us go beyond reacting to bullying and inappropriate behavior and instead start deterring it. As young people continue to engage more with technology every day, we are taking a proactive step to empower our students to become Upstanders in our community in the way that they feel most comfortable. We believe our adoption of STOPit is an important step in our continued effort to provide a positive school climate and a safe learning environment for our students.