Bullying / Cyber bullying Definition and Prohibition
Bullying occurs where there is, or is perceived to be, an imbalance of power, i.e. social, emotional, cognitive, age, size, gender. Bullying is defined as the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that:
- Causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property.
- Places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property.
- Creates a hostile environment at school for the victim.
- Infringes on the rights of the victim at school.
- Materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Cyber-bullying is bullying through the use of technology or any electronic means. including the distribution by 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, through either the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator impersonates another person or the distribution or posting of information online if these acts create any of the conditions listed above. State law prohibits bullying:
- At school and at all school facilities.
- At school-sponsored or school-related functions, whether on or off school grounds.
- on school buses and school bus stops.
- through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, licensed or used by a school.
- at non-school-related locations and through non-school technology or electronic devices, if the bullying affects the school environment.
Retaliation Related to Bullying
State law prohibits retaliation against a person who reports bullying provides information during an investigation of bullying, or who is a witness to or has reliable information about bullying. Disciplinary action could include in-school intervention, suspension in or out of school, referral to the SMART Boston program, referral to the Counseling and Intervention Center, and/or expulsion.
False Accusations of Bullying
A student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying will be subject to disciplinary action as defined by the BPS Code of conduct. BPS is currently updating the Code of Conduct and will include this is that version.
Procedures for students, staff, parents, guardians and others to report bullying or retaliation include anonymous reporting through the Bully Hotline 617-592-2378, and filing a Bullying Incident Report either through the Hotline or the school directly.
- No disciplinary action shall be taken against a student solely based on an anonymous report but an investigation will ensue.
Upon receipt of the report, within 48 hours the administrator will notify the parent (of the victim) of the complaint. An investigation will be completed and findings and action plan will be developed within 1 school week. During this time parents of the victim and the perpetrator will be notified and consequences for the behavior will be addressed.
Services for the perpetrator could include but are not limited to Sections 5 and 7 of the Code of Conduct: contracting, student support resources, detention, loss of school privileges, long-term adjustment of class schedule, probation, restitution, denial of school-provided transportation, long-term suspension, disciplinary transfer, alternative program placement or expulsion.
Additional bullying specific interventions could include: in-school bullying prevention and intervention training for individuals and classes, referral to the Counseling and Intervention Center, the BPS Saturdays for Success Program or the SMART Boston Program, individual counseling and criminal charges if appropriate.
Services for the victim could include but are not limited to: safety plan, regular check in, identification of adults whom the victim trusts, safety transfer, Operation Homefront referral, referral to the BPS Saturdays for Success Program, in-school counseling as needed or requested.
The District requires annual bullying prevention and intervention training for all school staff, including lunch monitors, bus drivers, teachers, administrators and all other itinerant staff as well as on-going professional development. The professional development requires that each school have at least 2 staff trained as Bullying Intervention Specialists. The training includes (i) developmentally appropriate strategies to prevent bullying incidents; (ii) developmentally appropriate strategies for immediate, effective interventions to stop bullying incidents; (iii) information regarding the complex interaction and power differential that can take place between and among a perpetrator, victim and witnesses to the bullying; (iv) research findings on bullying, including information about specific categories of students who have been shown to be particularly at risk for bullying in the school environment; (v) information on the incidence and nature of cyber-bullying; and (vi) internet safety issues as they relate to cyber-bullying.