CMS Safety
Bullying

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.

  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
 


There are three types of bullying:

  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
    • Teasing
    • Name-calling
    • Inappropriate sexual comments
    • Taunting
    • Threatening to cause harm

  • Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
    • Leaving someone out on purpose
    • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
    • Spreading rumors about someone
    • Embarrassing someone in public

  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
    • Hitting/kicking/pinching
    • Spitting
    • Tripping/pushing
    • Taking or breaking someone’s things
    • Making mean or rude hand gestures
 

Where and When Bullying Happens

  • Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.


What Is Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.

The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter
  • SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices
  • Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)
  • Email

Special Concerns

With the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The content an individual shares online – both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content – creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved – not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying or participating in it. Cyberbullying has unique concerns in that it can be:

Persistent – Digital devices offer an ability to immediately and continuously communicate 24 hours a day, so it can be difficult for children experiencing cyberbullying to find relief.

Permanent – Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed. A negative online reputation, including for those who bully, can impact college admissions, employment, and other areas of life.

Hard to Notice – Because teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it is harder to recognize.

Laws and Sanctions

Although all states have laws requiring schools to respond to bullying, many states do not include cyberbullying under these laws or specify the role schools should play in responding to bullying that takes place outside of school. Schools may take action either as required by law, or with local or school policies that allow them to discipline or take other action. Some states also have provisions to address bullying if it affects school performance. You can learn about the laws and policies in each state, including if they cover cyberbullying.



What Students Can Do

Are you being bullied? Do you see bullying at your school? There are things you can do to keep yourself and the kids you know safe from bullying.

  • Treat Everyone with Respect
  • What to Do If You’re Bullied
  • Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying
  • Stand Up for Others
  • Get Involved
 

Treat Everyone with Respect

Nobody should be mean to others.
  • Stop and think before you say or do something that could hurt someone.
  • If you feel like being mean to someone, find something else to do. Play a game, watch TV, or talk to a friend.
  • Talk to an adult you trust. They can help you find ways to be nicer to others.
  • Keep in mind that everyone is different. Not better or worse. Just different.  
  • If you think you have bullied someone in the past, apologize. Everyone feels better.
 

What to Do If You’re Bullied

There are things you can do if you are being bullied:
  • Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
  • If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.
 

There are things you can do to stay safe in the future, too.

  • Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.
  • Stay away from places where bullying happens.
  • Stay near adults and other kids. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around.
 

Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying

Bullying does not always happen in person. Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that happens online or through text messages or emails. There are things you can do to protect yourself.

  • Always think about what you post. You never know what someone will forward. Being kind to others online will help to keep you safe. Do not share anything that could hurt or embarrass anyone.
  • Keep your password a secret from other kids. Even kids that seem like friends could give your password away or use it in ways you don’t want. Let your parents have your passwords.
  • Think about who sees what you post online. Complete strangers? Friends? Friends of friends? Privacy settings let you control who sees what.
  • Keep your parents in the loop. Tell them what you’re doing online and who you’re doing it with. Let them friend or follow you. Listen to what they have to say about what is and isn’t okay to do. They care about you and want you to be safe.
  • Talk to an adult you trust about any messages you get or things you see online that make you sad or scared. If it is cyberbullying, please report it anonymously to CMS.
 

Stand Up for Others

When you see bullying, there are safe things you can do to make it stop.
  • Talk to a parent, teacher, or another adult you trust. Adults need to know when bad things happen so they can help.
  • Be kind to the kid being bullied. Show them that you care by trying to include them. Sit with them at lunch or on the bus, talk to them at school, or invite them to do something. Just hanging out with them will help them know they aren’t alone.
Not saying anything could make it worse for everyone. The kid who is bullying will think it is ok to keep treating others that way.

 

Get Involved

You can be a leader in preventing bullying in your community.
  • Find out more about where and when bullying happens at your school. Think about what could help. Then, share your ideas. There is a good chance that adults don’t know all of what happens. Your friends can go with you to talk to a teacher, counselor, coach, or parent and can add what they think.
  • Talk to the principal about getting involved at school. Schools sometimes give students a voice in programs to stop bullying. Be on a school safety committee. Create posters for your school about bullying. Be a role model for younger kids.
  • Write a blog, letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or tweet about bullying.