The following is data from a national level regarding Bullying: 15-20% of all students are victimized by bullies at some point in their career; almost one in three are involved in bullying, either as a bully or victim; 10% of students are afraid during much of the school day; 160,000 children miss school every day in the USA for fear of being bullied; and about 20% of students have reported being victimized by online bullying. The following is information according to what I call the National Definition of Bullying that includes the following elements: stronger against a more vulnerable child; intentional and happens more than once; serious in nature; in short bullying is a one-sided unfair match that happens more than once and has attendant physical, emotional or psychological harm.
Bullying is one of those words that has different meanings to different people. For example, in a survey given to Morgan Middle School (MMS) students in December of 2011, 412 students gave 394 definitions to the question of what bullying was. Some of these definitions were as follows: being put down physically or mentally, hurting someone in any way, hurting someone with words, being rude, being mean or teasing, being unkind, making one feel insecure, disrespect, insults, abuse, making others feel bad, makes fun of one, negatives, harassing, being a jerk, backstabbing, gossiping, unkind, pulling pranks, silent treatments, mean notes, laughing at someone, acting better than everyone else, when anything is done that hurts or makes one feel bad.
The students of MMS are probably in line with other students in the district as they say that no person has the right to hurt or make another student feel bad. The students of Morgan School District (MSD) seem to have a high standard when it comes to many things and their definition of Bullying is more far reaching than what the literature states is the National Definition of Bullying.
There are many forms of Bullying and the literature seems to support the MMS student definition as the following are some of the forms: spreading rumors about others, writing nasty things about classmates, intentionally excluding others, taking or damaging other student’s possessions, and cyber bullying by sending offensive messages to others via technology.
Regardless of which definition of Bullying that one uses, the staff of MSD views the National definition of Bullying or the Morgan School District definition as issues that are serious problems worthy of an immediate response. Number one, MSD does not accept the view that Bullying is a normal part of growing up and those students need this to mature. Number two, the staff of MSD is aware that inappropriate actions by students often take place in areas outside of the presence of adults. Number three, the MSD staff realizes that victims often fail to report bullying to adults. Number four, MSD knows that the bullying triad consists of the bully, the victim and the by-standers; with this concept in place the victim is the most difficult to change and the by-standers can be most easily convinced to not support bullying.
MSD has a district-wide policy that defines, identifies the consequences, describes the acceptable use of technology, and outlines procedures for staff to follow when violations take place.
Schools in MSD provide a wide range of activities to reinforce anti-bullying: assemblies to discuss the problem; display posters about positive behaviors; provide rules to students, parents and staff; hold student meetings to discuss the issues; role play situations to make students aware; present lessons addressing appropriate school behavior; supervise areas where inappropriate behavior is likely; encourage bystanders to act appropriately; catch the bully being kind; inform other school staff; set up a contact box for staff to help students; monitor high risk children; recognize the signs of bullying in victims, bullies and bystanders; take all reports seriously; act quickly; handle the problem privately; support the victim; ask students to help with the problems; and enforce existing rules with positives and consequences.
As we do the following in the school environment, we solicit your help to likewise do the following at home: avoid sarcasm or put-downs of any kind; incorporate activities that promote understanding and acceptance; use cooperative learning projects; reward children for comforting actions; foster a way that children can comment in a risk free environment; reward positive behavior with at least 4 positives to every negative that one uses; have a night weekly where children are rewarded for accomplishments; and remember that relationships are the most important aspect of any student-adult interaction.
MSD does not have the bullying issues as described nationally; however, due to the high standards of our students, parents, staff and community, we have our issues. We invite you as parents and community to support MSD as we concentrate on providing an academic environment that is free of behavior that interferes with learning.