Bullying has become a significant issue with young people nationwide. It affects students at every level, from elementary to high school. To proactively address the issue of bullying the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has created a Bullying Prevention Policy. The policy clearly outlines, the definition of bullying and the steps required by schools to address it.
The definition for bullying in DCPS is:
“Bullying,” means any severe, pervasive, or persistent act or conduct, whether physical, electronic, or verbal that:
- May be based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intellectual ability, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, place of residence or business, or any other distinguishing characteristic, or on a youth’s association with a person, or group with any person, with one or more of the actual or perceived foregoing characteristics; and
- Shall be reasonably predicted to:
- Place a student in reasonable fear of physical harm to his or her person or property;
- Cause a substantial detrimental effect on the student’s physical or mental health;
- Substantially interfere with the student’s academic performance or attendance; or
- Substantially interfere with the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from school activities or services; or
- Materially and disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Bullying also occurs when a student or group of students organize a campaign against another student or when a student or group of students maliciously spread rumors about another student.
DCPS is committed to making every school a safe and welcome space for your child. Families are critical players in these efforts.
One of the most proactive measures families can take to shield their children from bullying is to talk to them early and openly about what it means to bully or to be bullied. Doing so not only ensures open lines of communication, but also reinforces the importance of speaking up about problems at school.
If a parent suspects their child may be experiencing bullying at school, they should ask about it explicitly. Make sure to tell your child that you are there to help and you believe what he or she has to say.
If you think your child is bullying others, it is important to discuss the behavior and make it clear that bullying is taken very seriously. At the same time, you may want to work with your child to understand some of the reasons behind the bullying.
If you witness cyber-bullying (use of the Internet and related technologies to bully) that includes threats of violence, child pornography or sexually explicit materials, and stalking or hate crimes, you should consider reporting the incident to law enforcement. Cyber-bullying also can create classroom disruptions and lead to in-person bullying.
Bullying or suspected bullying should be reported in person or in writing (including anonymously) to any Seaton staff or Administrator. The Seaton Elementary School Bullying Point of Contact is Mr. Mercado, the Bilingual School Counselor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- School staff, coaches, and teachers of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities are required to report alleged incidents of bullying to the one of the Bullying P.O.C. Any other adult working or volunteering in the school will be encouraged to promptly report observed or suspected alleged incidents of bullying to any member of the Marie Reed staff.
- Students who are believed to have been bullied or are aware of incidents of bullying are strongly encouraged to report this behavior to a staff member or school administrator.
- Parents and other adults who believe that an incident of bullying has occurred are encouraged to report this behavior to a staff member or school administrator. Parents can also email or communicate directly to one of the Bullying Point of Contact in regards to any concerns.
- Acts of reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an alleged incident of bullying are prohibited. Any student who is determined to have knowingly falsely accused another of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary consequences.
The Bullying Point of Contact will take action to include the following:
- Promptly investigate and respond to allegations of bullying behavior;
- Keep written documentation of all allegations of bullying behavior and outcomes of the investigations, and report alleged and substantiated incidents to the Head of School;
- Inform parent(s) or guardian(s) of the student(s) who was alleged to have bullied AND of the student(s) who was believed to have been bullied that a report of an alleged incident of bullying has been made;
- Communicate to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a student(s) who was believed to have been bullied the measures being taken to ensure the safety of the student(s) who was believed to have been bullied and to prevent further acts of bullying;
- Inform parent(s) or guardian(s) of the students involved the findings of the investigation and actions to be taken;
- Communicate with local or state stake holders in regards to additional resources or case management
Bullying in DC is currently a Tier 3 infraction, per Chapter 25, and can result in a variety of consequences. Schools are encouraged to determine and implement consequences and progressive discipline actions consistent with DCPS policies and procedures.
The following list of consequences are provided as a guide:
- Verbal redirection/reprimand
- Teacher/student conference
- Administrator/student conference
- Parental contact (written or by phone)
- Parent conference
- Temporary Removal of Student from Classroom
- Behavior contract
- In-School Disciplinary Action
- In school suspension
- Out of school suspension
While school administrators have discretion in applying consequences, the intention of the consequence should be to:
- Appropriately correct the bullying behavior,
- Prevent another occurrence of the bullying or retaliation,
- Protect the target of the bullying, and
- Be flexible so that in application they can be unique to the individual incident and varied in method and severity based on the nature of the incident, developmental age of the person bullying, and any history of problem behavior from the person bullying.
There are activities and conversations you can have with your children about bullies and bullying behaviors. Your children do not have to be targets of bullying. Empower your children to be confident and strong individuals who treat everyone with respect. A bully is no match to someone who has a good support network and a clear view of what is right and wrong. Finally, you can help your children become good friends and classmates who accept and help each other by creating an environment where differences are celebrated, and bullying is not tolerated. For additional information about bullying policies or information please feel free to click on the links below.
If you or your child has been involved in a bullying incident please contact your school to report it.
- DCPS Bullying Prevention Policy
For any questions or concerns please contact Bonita Toorie, Social Worker and Bullying Point of Contact (POC ) for Seaton: email@example.com