Victim Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Inc.
Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion. It may include physical bullying including hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, choking, and sexual assault; verbal bullying including threatening, teasing, “hate” talk, taunting, etc.; online or cyberbullying; and social exclusion.
Many times bullying is not addressed due to the fact that these crimes are not recognized by the true nature and name of the crime: assault in the third; or sexual assault; or assault one. Each community and school system needs to develop a definition of bullying; develop consistent enforcement of effective consequences for verbal and physical aggression; build positive connections at school and in the community; monitor the programs to confirm that consequences are effective; create an effective counseling program for the bullies, and their victims; and create an anti-bullying campaign in each school system, and the community at large.
The New York Dignity for All Students Act
Signed by Governor Patterson on September 8, 2010.
Scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2012.
Specifically bans harassment and discrimination against students based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, color, weight, national origin, ethnicity, religion and/or disability.
Requires New York State school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies.
This law also mandates each district appoint at least one staff member in each school to implement anti-bullying techniques and methods.
Also requires that administrators report incidents of bullying or bias-based harassment to the New York State Department of Education.
The VRC is providing School Districts with an example of what policies should include in their respective anti-bullying policies:
- enabling students to anonymously report acts of bullying to teachers, counselors, and school administrators;
- providing the schools’ description of bullying to students and parents, (i.e., “overt acts by a student or a group of students directed against another student or group of students with the intent to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate while on school grounds or at a school-sponsored activity, in which acts are repeated against the student or group of students over time");
- enabling the parents and guardians of victim students to file written reports of suspected bullying;
- requiring teachers and other school staff who witness acts of bullying or receive student reports of bullying notify school administrators;
- requiring school administrators to investigate any written reports filed, and to review anonymous reports;
- including an intervention strategy for school staff to deal with bullying;
- providing for the inclusion of language in student codes of conduct concerning bullying;
- creating an anti-bullying campaign, including posters, fliers, and anti-bullying programs;
- requiring the parents or guardians of students who commit bullying and the parents of the victims to be notified, with the parents allowed to review the response of school staff;
- requiring each school maintain a list of the number of verified acts of bullying in the school, and make this list available for public inspection;
- providing education in the classroom on peer relationships and bullying;
- providing a comprehensive protocol of supervision during breaks and between class periods in "hot spots" or "danger zones" such as stairwells, cafeteria lines, the perimeters of the school grounds, bathrooms, and locker rooms; and
- providing the "Active Bystander" training for students and staff. The Active-Bystander Techniques are as follows: "Say 'Stop-It!' Loudly to someone who is bullying another. This often surprises the bully and gets the attention of others who may help stop the bullying; Remove The Target from the bully(s). This will help keep the victim safe; Get Help from a trusted adult or peer. Children can get help from a teacher, counselor, parent or an adult friend or a designated peer Active Bystander leader. When children understand that courage is needed to be an active bystander and they learn to use the Active-Bystander Techniques then they feel more empowered to help someone else in a bully situation." The Active Bystander program is one of the most effective tools to stop bullying in schools and on college campuses. We train students to become Active Bystanders as opposed to Passive Bystanders. This program includes the entire school district empowering students to become engaged and involved in stopping the violence. The Victim Resource Center has an effective Active-Bystander Training Program and would be happy to facilitate trainings in your school.
Some Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
- Unexplained bruises, torn clothing, missing school items (needs additional money or school supplies).
- Does not want to attend school.
- Problems sleeping or eating, or eating too much when they arrive home (their food or lunch money is being stolen).
- Sudden problems with grades, homework, letters or calls from schools.
- Secretive behavior, depression, or outbursts of anger.
- Rushing to the bathroom, library or bus after school.
- Frequent trips to the school nurse.
How To Help Your Child
- Teach your child to reach out and speak up to you, their trusted teachers or adviser at school if they are having problems.
- If the bullying is happening on the bus, the school campus, or at school-sponsored activities, meet with your child's school counselor, teachers, coaches, and principal, to find out what their policy is for bullying and how they are helping your child with the problem.
- Encourage friendships (strength in numbers).
- Teach your child social skills, problem-solving, and how to protect themselves in dangerous situations. Teach her/him self-respect, and how to walk and act with confidence.
- Do not encourage a physical response like fighting with the bully.
- Watch your child’s Internet activity, text-messaging, and check his or her room for weapons or threatening notes, etc. Your child may react in a dangerous way, and each parent should intervene. Contact a counselor or therapist to meet with your child, and take other measures to avoid any dangerous reactions to the bullies.
“Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.” B. Belsey
Online bullying, or cyberbullying, is on the rise. Primarily used by teens via the Internet, cell phones, and other devices to hurt or embarrass another person.
"Sexting" is an explicit text message or photo sent from a wireless phone. Most sexting happens from one cell phone to another. Teens are becoming more aggressive in their cell-phone dialog. They are more willing to text something that they would not say face-to-face. The apparent dangers are that a picture or message can be forwarded to hundreds of people and become public knowledge. Texting inappropriate photos can turn into a criminal matter. It is a form of cyberbullying, and any image that depicts a minor in a sexual activity or indecent manner is considered child pornography. Police will prosecute an adult or child who engages in explicit media with a minor, and parents can be prosecuted.
Parents need to become tech-savvy in this digital age. Check your child's computer and cell phone. For sexting, check your child's outgoing text messages to monitor communication. Look for text acronyms that you can find online and compare these with your child's cell phone text. If your child is deleting outgoing texts, s/he may be trying to hide something. Also look in the inbox or trash folders to read texts that they may have tried to delete. Speak with your child and set limits on cell phone and computer use. Become an informed parent by always checking your child's communication online and via his or her cell phone.
“Cyberbullies” are the perpetrators of this crime. They often spread lies and rumors about the victims, send or forward cruel information, post photographs of victims without their consent, pretend to be someone else to trick others online to reveal personal information. A child or teen may be cyberbullying if they quickly close programs or switch to another program; laughs while using the computer; avoids discussions as to what they are doing on the computer; has friends over to view what they are doing, or notifies friends to view a website or chat room; uses the computer at all hours of the night; and is using multiple online accounts, or an account that is not theirs.
“Cyberbully victims” should inform their parents, schools, and the police regarding any threatening or severely negative remarks, photographs, etc.; never post or share personal information online or your friend’s personal information, or share your passwords, except with your parents; never meet anyone in person that you meet online; share with your parents what you are viewing and seeing online; always block the communication with the cyberbully; talk to your parents and friends; and report the cyberbully to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). You may contact http://www.cybertipline.com/ to report cyberbullying.
Your child may be cyberbullied by someone if he or she appears nervous or upset when an Instant Message or Email appears or when they are on the computer looking at a site like Myspace or Facebook; unexpectedly stops using the computer, and when you ask why, makes up a quick excuse; is uneasy about going to school or going to parties, etc.; avoids discussions about the computer; appears angry or depressed after using the computer, or just angry or depressed in general; and/or becomes withdrawn from usual friends or family.
Teens and children can also help others being cyberbullied by refusing to participate in this behavior, tell friends to stop this behavior, and report this behavior to a trusted adult. Schools should develop cyberbullying rules, and raise awareness of this issue by creating an anti-cyberbullying campaign program.