Bullying Prevention Plan

Seven Hills Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan Student Friendly Version: Why do we have this plan?  Because we are committed to ensuring all of our students come to school every day ready to learn. We expect that all students treat each other with dignity and respect. Every person should be valued for their differences and has the right to come through these doors and feel safe and comfortable . We will not tolerate a violation of anyone’s rights, bullying, harassment, or retaliation against anyone who reports any wrongdoing. Some definitions to get started: Aggressor:  any person who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, relational aggression, civil rights violation, harassment, or retaliation.  Some students like to call this person the “bully.” Target: is a student against whom bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation is perpetrated. Bystander: the person who witnesses the bullying. Has a decision to make (to act or not, to report = YES!) The bystander is THE MOST important role in a bullying situation. Why????? What is an Upstander? Bullying by law is defined as: Bullying: As defined by M.G.L. c. 71, § 370, is the repeated use by one or more students  or by a member of school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, or paraprofessional of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that: (i)      Causes emotional or physical harm to the target or damages the target’s property; (ii)    Places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his or her property (iii)   Creates a hostile environment at school for the target; (iv)  Infringes on the rights of the target at school; or (v)    Materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.   Bullying is a repeated pattern of behavior, it happens more than once to an intended target or victim. Most times the target feels stuck, as if they have been backed into a corner. There is a perceived imbalance of power in these situations where one person exhibits control in the incident(s) over another person. It is different from a conflict, in which both parties contribute in some way to the disagreement and there is not one person exhibiting complete control over the situation. It is important to have all of the facts and be sure that you are dealing with a true bullying situation, or if you are in a conflict.     Some of the behaviors we see at school might look/feel/sound like:
  • Teasing
  • Name calling
  • Exclusion (purposely leaving someone out, or not letting them join you/sit with you)
  • Gossip/Rumors
  • Sucking teeth/eye rolling/sighing loudly/dirty looks/whispering about someone to make them feel uncomfortable (create a hostile environment for them)
  • Hitting/punching/kicking/pinching/spitting/tripping
  • Stealing/vandalizing property
  • Threats/intimidation
  • Cliques
  • Retaliation
What is Retaliation exactly, and why is that considered a bullying behavior? Retaliation: is any form of intimidation, reprisal (revenge) or harassment directed against a student who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying. So….It is against the law to try to get back at someone who reports you, or anyone else for bullying. THEY are doing what is right, YOU are not. So WE will do what is necessary to protect them and YOU will receive some pretty harsh consequences! LEAVE THEM ALONE! Here are some Non-examples of bullying. These are things that can often be MISTAKEN for bullying behaviors but are NOT actually bullying:
  • Cutting in line (it’s not nice, it’s against school rules, but it’s not bullying)
  • Saying “Shut Up” (There are nicer ways to ask someone to ‘Be Quiet’ or ‘Please stop’)
  • Having an argument/fight/conflict back and forth. If you both engage in the argument, and say mean things, you are both at fault, no matter who started it.
  • Annoying behavior/rude/bossy/obnoxious/mean: Guess what? We ALL have annoying behavior! Sometime in our life someone will find something we do, annoying or obnoxious, or rude. It is NOT your job to point out someone else’s flaws! You can let the person know you don’t like the behavior, or ask them to stop the behavior, but you CANNOT call that person names or send a bully alert on the person for having a behavior you don’t like. You can use an I statement (“I feel embarrassed and humiliated when you call me that in front of other people and I need for you to stop.” Or “I get annoyed when you tap your pencil on the desk, it is hard for me to focus.”) We attack the behavior, we do NOT attack the person!
  • Bumping into someone accidentally
  • Good natured teasing back and forth (as long as you are both in on the joke and no one’s feelings are hurt, you are not getting a laugh at anyone else’s expense), be aware that this can go too far, you have to know the other persons threshold and when enough is enough.
Here’s the thing about bullying…. The MINUTE you make someone feel unsafe or uncomfortable you can be ACCUSED of bullying them. Your behavior has created, a HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT for them and that is against the law. EVEN if your intent was not to bully them, IT DOES NOT MATTER. What matters is how they feel. If you have shown a pattern of behaviors, or a behavior that was severe enough to make them feel like you have created a hostile environment for them at school, you have broken the law and WE MUST TAKE ACTION! Cyberbullying by law is defined as: Cyberbullying: As defined by M.G.L. c. 71, § 370, is bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but not limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Cyberbullying shall also include: (i)                  The creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person (ii)                The knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the content, creation, or impersonation creates any of the conditions in clauses (i) to (v) listed above in the definition of bullying.   Cyberbullying shall also include the distribution by any electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions in clauses (i) to (v) listed in the above definition of bullying.   We know cyberbullying looks/feels/sounds like:
  • Hacking into someone’s page
  • Pretending to be someone else online (identity theft/fraud)
  • Posting peoples personal information and thoughts for everyone to read
  • Saying rude things to a person (name calling/swearing) over IM, text, VM, social media, etc.
  • Inciting others to join in the teasing/taunting/name calling/etc. online
  • Taking/sending/posting inappropriate pictures or videos
  • Photo shopping someone’s picture to demean/degrade/humiliate them and posting it
  • Polling/rating peoples looks/bodies, who’s tougher, etc…
  • sexting
  Cyberbullying, even when done on your home computer, creates a hostile environment here at school for everyone that reads, posts, or is a target of what you send! Therefore, by law is our responsibility to follow up on and act upon. We will have you access your pages from school, print them, and contact your parents, and possibly the police. Remember, once you hit that send button, YOU DON’T OWN THOSE WORDS ANYMORE! (or those pictures/videos) Here is a good rule of thumb for you to use: Don’t put anything on the internet that you don’t want these people to see:  (Remember the 7 P’s)
  • Parents
  • Principals
  • Professors
  • Prospective employers
  • Preacher
  • Police
  • Predators
Harassment: consists of unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct targeting specific person(s) which is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or offensive school environment, or substantially interfere with the progress of a student’s education. Harassment CAN be a one-time behavior. Civil Rights Violations fall into the harassment category, as does Sexual Harassment. Sexual Harassment: Is any unwanted or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. It can be verbal, visual or physical. This can happen just once.
  • Physical Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome contact: bumping, touching (anywhere on the body not just a private area), hugging, kissing, pinching. Basically it is intruding on another’s personal space.
  • Visual Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome exposure to explicit photos, drawings, cartoons, graffiti, notes, ratings/polls, gestures
  • Verbal sexual Harassment is any unwelcome spoken words or sounds directed toward another person. Examples would be suggestive comments, inappropriate jokes, commenting about a person’s body, whistles, asking a person out repeatedly, calling someone “gay” or other homosexual reference, or spreading rumors about someone’s sexuality.
Remember: THE MINUTE you make another person feel uncomfortable with what you say, you run the risk of being accused of sexual harassment! So if you’re not sure if you should say it or not: DON’T. Let’s Talk Civil Rights: Civil Rights Violations: involve any acts directed at a target that cause emotional or physical harm, due to a person’s protected category under constitutional or statutory rights (actual or perceived race, skin color, religion, ethnicity, age, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or housing status).  Rights protected against interference include non-discrimination in access to advantages and privileges of a public school education.  The term “civil rights violation” also covers bias-related and sexual harassment and bias crimes, so the term is applied generically to any civil or criminal law infractions. What does that mean? It means that all of us, every single person falls under some protected category. We are a male or we are a female, we are one type of religion or another, or not. We all have an ethnicity, we all have a skin color. Maybe we have a disability, maybe we are smarter in one area than another. The point is, we are all protected by what are called CIVIL RIGHTS. That means, you may NOT: point out, make fun of, target, or discriminate (in any way shape or form) against a student who is a different race than you, a different color than you, a different gender than you, a different religion than you, a different sexual orientation than you, has a disability, or may not have a home. If you do, you have broken the law. Let’s talk about Gender identity for a minute… What is this exactly? So, MA just passed another new law in July 2012 called: An Act relative to Gender Identity in which students who are born one gender, but wish to identify themselves as another gender are protected and allowed to do so. They are also offered protections and safeguards in schools. Why do you think this is important and necessary? Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Just because a person identifies as the opposite sex, it does not necessarily mean that they are homosexual (gay). They may be, or not. It just means that they are more comfortable identifying as the other sex. We must treat them as the gender they identify as and respect the choice they have made. We must attempt to have empathy for the many emotions and feelings they may go through as a student during their transition and beyond. Discrimination against these students is never acceptable as any other protected category.   Ok, so we’ve been talking about a HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT, what is that? According to the law, it is defined as: Hostile Environment: As defined by M.G.L. c. 71, § 370, a hostile environment is created when bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the student’s education. What it means is that something you have done has created an atmosphere here at school that is unsafe and uncomfortable for another student(s). This is against the law. Therefore, school personnel must take action against you. You are the aggressor, therefore you must be dealt with and the other student must be kept safe. What does that mean for you? It depends… There are many things the school will do in cases where students are accused of bullying. Our first priority is always to keep you safe. The first thing that happens when we get a report of bullying is an investigation. The investigation is very thorough and all parties are interviewed (separately) and any witnesses are interviewed as well. A determination is made based on the evidence. The code of conduct is followed for consequence determination and/or possibly a disciplinary hearing. Parents are notified. A report may be filed with the guidance office or with local law enforcement. You may be required to take extra classes in addition to your guidance classes on bullying/harassment/civil rights/sexual harassment/cyberbullying topics An apology of action/community service project will be completed   What should you do if you feel you are being bullied/harassed? USE THE BULLY ALERT SYSTEM! That is what we created it for! It’s great! You can go online and be as detailed as possible please!!! That way if you choose to report anonymously, we can have as many details to go on for our investigation as possible. When you hit the ‘submit’ button, Ms. Dirsa will get an e-mail alert right away on her computer that there is a bully alert that she needs to address! She will start investigating as soon as possible and if it is really serious she will investigate it with Mr. Colorio. Ms. Dirsa investigates every single alert she gets, IT’S THE LAW! You can also report it to her, to a teacher, any staff member you trust, your parents, your bus driver, you can write it down and put it in her mailbox or the locked box in the JA by the bathrooms. There are also all sorts of strategies you can use if your being bullied, like using humor to diffuse the situation, and being assertive and standing up for yourself,  Scripting responses that you want to say (assertive, not aggressive) and role playing them with someone or practicing them in a mirror, you and a buddy making a pact to stick together and stand up for each other, drawing attention to yourself and what’s going on (bullies can be sneaky), never being alone in the halls, etc. But you’ll learn more about those in your guidance classes… Just remember YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WALK THROUGH THESE HALLS AND FEEL SAFE! If someone else’s behavior is making you uncomfortable, THEY need to be dealt with! It is NOT OK! THEY don’t have THAT right!   Student Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan Updated 8/14 Lisa Dirsa MA, C.A.G.S.
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