A: Every incident will be evaluated on a case by case basis and treated seriously. That said, it’s important to remember that not every situation is, in fact, bullying. Sometimes misunderstandings and miscommunications will result in one party feeling that they were a target of bullying. Generally, an action is considered bullying if it:
- demonstrates a pattern of repeated behaviors
- causes physical or emotional harm to the target student or damage to his or her property
- is based on an imbalance of power in the relationship between aggressor and victim.
A: It is sometimes hard to know when a behavior crosses the line from “teasing” to bullying. Is eye rolling bullying? What about name-calling? We all need to learn to discern between teasing/joking/talking back kind of behaviors and actual bullying behaviors. Sometimes it's hard to tell and often depends on the situation. However, parents and teachers alike should continue to go back to the points above when evaluating: if there is a power imbalance and repeated acts of aggressive, belittling and/or shunning behavior, it is bullying. It is important to keep in mind age and gender differences as well. Sometimes children are simply experimenting with their own social power. It’s okay, as a parent or educator, to say to a child, “Hey, what was that? I’m not sure I liked that look (that comment, etc.).” Having a discussion about it helps kids learn more about the boundaries of acceptable behavior.
A: In keeping with the Massachusetts Law regarding bullying (including cyberbullying), bullying is prohibited:
- At school-sponsored or school-related functions
- At school and at all school facilities
- On school buses and school bus stops
- Through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, licensed or used by a school; and
- At non-school-related locations and through non-school technology or electronic devices, if the bullying affects the school environment.
Encouraging others to target a student with any of the behaviors listed above may also be considered bullying.