What is bullying? Ohio law [Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 3313.666(B)(E)] defines bullying, harassment and intimidation in Ohio schools as any intentional written, verbal, graphic or physical act that a student or group of students exhibits toward another student more than once, and that behavior both:
✦ Causes mental or physical harm to the other student; and ✦ Is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for the other student.
Students have the right to learn in an environment untainted of any form of harassment or discrimination. Offensive conduct which has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the learning atmosphere or creating an intimidating, hostile, discriminatory, or offensive learning environment, or which disrupts the educational process or impedes the legitimate pedagogical concerns of the School, is strictly prohibited.
Facts to know about bullying: ✦ Bullying is disrespectful and can be dangerous, humiliating and life threatening. ✦ “Cyber bullying” occurs when a perpetrator conveys his or her message through the internet or a cell phone, personal digital assistant (PDA) or another wireless hand-held device. ✦ Bullying based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation is a form of bias or hate and should not be dismissed as teasing. ✦ Bullying that continues into adulthood may turn into violence toward strangers, friends and family.
How can parents help prevent bullying? Parents are their children’s first teachers. Whatever parents say and do at home, their children are likely to imitate and repeat in other settings. The most important skills that parents can teach their children are to speak and act in respectful ways and to solve problems fairly and peacefully. Here are tips for teaching by example:
At Home: ✦ Talk with children often and listen carefully to what they have to say. ✦ Discuss bullying behavior and how hurtful it can be to others. ✦ Make behavioral expectations clear and be consistent with discipline when siblings and peers engage in hurtful teasing and bullying. ✦ Help children understand the meaning of friendship by modeling friendly behavior. ✦ Discuss the fact that all people deserve respect, even though their individual characteristics and personalities may differ from the expected. ✦ Urge children to tell an adult when they are being bullied.
At School: ✦ Learn the school rules, expected behavior and consequences of bullying. ✦ Participate at school, offer services and attend school-sponsored activities. ✦ Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher. ✦ Report bullying behavior immediately when you become aware that it is happening. ✦ Ask for and accept the school’s help if your child is a target, a bully or a bystander.
What should parents do if their child is bullied at school or at school-related events? ✦ Be aware of their child’s experiences at school. ✦ Obtain their school district’s written anti-bullying policy; learn about bullying’s consequences. ✦ Report bullying problems to school officials immediately. ✦ Keep accurate records of incidents and be specific about their child’s experiences when discussing resolution of the problem with school staff. ✦ Call local law enforcement if they believe their child is in immediate danger.
If a child has experienced a confrontation with a bully, parents can build the child’s confidence with reassurances that: ✦ The child is not at fault; the bully’s behavior is the problem. ✦ Everyone is entitled to respect; the child does not deserve to be bullied. ✦ You will work with the child’s teacher, principal, school counselor and school staff to ensure that your child will feel safe. ✦ You are committed to helping the school protect your child and other children from bullies.
For more information, please visit the links below for the fact sheets and additional resources located on the Ohio Department of Education’s website.