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Bullying Prevention

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.

Myths About Bullying

The following is a list of myths about bullying from the StopBullying.gov website.
  • Bullying is the Same Thing as Conflict.
  • Most Bullying is Physical (Involves Hitting, Shoving, Kicking).
  • Bullying isn’t Serious. It’s Just a Matter of “Kids Being Kids.”
  • Bullying Doesn’t Happen at My Child’s School.
  • Bullying is Mostly a Problem in Urban Schools.
  • Bullying is More Likely to Happen on the Bus than at School.
  • Children and Youth Who Are Bullied Will Almost Always Tell an Adult.Children and Youth Who Bully are Mostly Loners with Few Social Skills.
  • Bullied Kids Need to Learn How to Deal with Bullying on Their Own.
  • Most Children and Youth Who Observe Bullying Don’t Want to Get Involved.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: StopBullying.gov

In-School Prevention

Team U.P. (Universal Prevention) partners with elementary schools to offer half-day seminars to 5th and 6th grade students about healthy social relationships.  These seminars consist of break-out sessions which include intentional games, discussions, and activities to proactively help these students navigate their way in social situations.  Topics addressed during this event include the following: respect, diversity, commonalities, leadership, and preteen culture.  In addition, there are sessions that talk about the differences between bullying and normal conflict, being a bystander and an upstander, and what are the sources of support these students turn to when life gets tricky, regardless of the magnitude of the problem.  If you are interested in hosting a seminar at your school, please contact Ann Metz ammetz[at]dcsdk12[dot]org.

 

Additionally, Sources of Strength serves as an anti-bullying and school culture-building tool. Learn more here.

Cyberbullying

Instead of happening face-to-face, Cyberbullying happens through social media and the use of technology such as computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.  Cyberbullying peaks around the end of middle school and the beginning of high school.

There are things students can do to protect themesleves online:

  • 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, report it.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: StopBullying.gov

LGBTQ Bullying and Anti-Discrimination

The following is from OneColorado:

Laws:

1.  FERPA protects all students, including transgender and gender-nonconforming students, from sex discrimination. Title IX encompasses discrimination based on a student’s nonconformity with sex stereotypes and gender identity, including a student’s transgender status.  Once a school is notified that a student will begin asserting a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school must begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. When a school provides sex-segregated activities or facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity. Moreover, schools should be aware of their obligation under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to protect the privacy of their students when maintaining education records. Learn more about FERPA and Title IX

2.  Colorado follows state anti-discrimination and civil rights laws and guidance.  In 2008, Colorado passed a law (S.B. 08-2000) expanding prohibitions against discrimination.  The law calls out the need to protect all regardless of “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry” in all places of public accommodation.  This law defines sexual orientation as “a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender status or another person’s perception thereof.” 

In 2011, Colorado passed House Bill 11-1254, a comprehensive anti-bullying bill that prohibits bullying on the basis of a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission issued rules (3 CCR 708-1) that state “All [public] covered entities shall allow individuals the proper use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity.  Gender-segregated facilities include but are not limited to, restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and dormitories.”  The term “gender identity” is in turn defined by the rules as follows:  “Gender identity” means an innate sense of one’s own gender.” 

A Colorado court case in 2013 supported the right of a 6 year old transgender student in Fountain School district to use the restroom that aligned with her gender identity. Learn more about State of Colorado Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination Laws

3.  DCSD Board Policy: The  DCSD Board  of  Education  is  committed  to  maintaining  a  learning environment for students that is free from harassment based on an individual's disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, or ancestry.  All such harassment, by District employees, students and third parties, is strictly prohibited.

Harassment based on disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, or ancestry will be regarded as a violation of this policy when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student's education; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for educational decisions affecting the student; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of adversely affecting a student's ability to participate in or benefit from District program(s), or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.


LGBTQ Anti-bullying Resources

According to GLSEN research, compared to other students in the LGBTQ community, transgender and genderqueer students face more hostile school climates. So, too, do gender non-conforming (GNC) students, whose gender expression does not align to traditional gender norms.

The below resources can help students and educators learn about gender diversity, pronoun visibility, trans students' rights, and inclusive curriculum and GSA practices.

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.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: StopBullying.gov

For Parents

Get Involved

It’s more important now than ever before for parents, educators and youth advocates to start the conversation early about bullying, especially when it comes to social networking and social media tools. Parents need to know what sites and tools are most popular, so they can monitor their student’s online lives. 

We know that our students are transient online, always on the search for the newest, coolest tools. For that reason, we encourage our community to be ever vigilant regarding bullying and suicidal behavior. Regardless of the platform or whether it’s in the schoolyard, on the bus, on the computer or mobile device, please stay vigilant.

Teaching students how to remain safe, no matter what the tool or site is, is our goal. When students are empowered to make good decisions when using social networking sites and tools, they remain safe.

We encourage parents to be actively involved, monitoring their children’s lives, including their time online. Using software and options from cellular carriers may be helpful.

 


Take Action

If you are concerned about your child’s behavior:

  • Start by reporting to your school: teacher, counselor or principal.
  • Resources are available through our YESS program, an educational partnership with our law enforcement agencies, as well as in the Student Wellness section of the District website.

911
If there is an immediate threat to your child or other students, call local law enforcement at 911.

LIFELINE
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24 hour crisis line for those who are thinking of suicide. They also help those who are feeling hopeless or helpless or know someone that is.

Metro Crisis Line
888-885-1222

Metro Crisis Services offers a hotline for those struggling with a mental or emotional problem, getting into trouble with drugs or alcohol, having family or relationship problems, or problems at work or school. Support and guidance is free and confidential.

Safe2Tell
877-542-SAFE (7233)

SAFE2TELL is designed to help YOU anonymously report any threatening behavior that endangers you, your friends, your family, or your community.


Bullying Prevention & Awareness in DCSD

“At the recent Douglas County Youth Congress event, I worked with a group of DCSD high school students who said ‘our problem is we’re not really sure when we need help,’ ” said Prevention & School Culture Director, Staci McCormack. “They felt they didn’t understand that being a teenager can present small challenges even on a daily basis. They were not sure that being truly depressed for days and feeling hopeless is not just a common teenager feeling. They asked ‘is that normal? Or is that not?’” Read more